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Sissel Kyrkjebø

Current Location:: Oslo, Oslo, Norway
Birthplace: Bergen, Hordaland, Norge (Norway)
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Erling Johan Kyrkjebø and Private
Wife of Private
Ex-wife of Eddie Skoller
Mother of Private and Private
Sister of Private and Bjørn Kyrkjebø

Occupation: Singer
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Sissel Kyrkjebø

Sissel Kyrkjebø (English pronunciation: /sɪsəl ʃʏrʃəbə/, Norwegian pronounciation [s%C9%AAs%C9%99l çʏrçəbø]; born 24 June 1969 in Bergen), also simply known as Sissel, is a Norwegian soprano.

She is best known for singing the Olympic Hymn (Hymne Olympique) at the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 1994 Winter Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway, for duets with Plácido Domingo, Charles Aznavour, José Carreras, Neil Sedaka, Warren G, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Josh Groban, Diana Krall, Russell Watson and The Chieftains, and her participation on the Titanic film soundtrack.

Sissel received her first U.S. Grammy nominations on Dec 6th, 2007 for a collaboration with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Spirit of the Season, a collection of songs from the choir’s 2006 Christmas concert featuring Norwegian recording artist Sissel and the Orchestra at Temple Square, was nominated for the Best Classical Crossover Album of the Year, as well as Best Engineered Classical Album.[1]

Sissel is considered as one of the world's top crossover sopranos. Sissel's musical style runs the gamut from pop recordings and folk songs, to classical vocals and operatic arias. She possesses a "crystalline" voice[2] and wide vocal range, sweeping down from mezzo-soprano notes, in arias such as Mon cœur s'ouvre à ta voix from Saint-Saëns's opera Samson et Dalila, to the F natural above soprano C.[3] She sings mainly in English and Norwegian, but has also sung songs in Swedish, Danish, Gaelic, Italian, French, Russian, Icelandic, Faeroese, German, Māori, Japanese and Latin.

Sissel's combined solo record sales (not including soundtracks and other albums to which she contributed) amount to 10 million albums sold, most of them in Norway—a country with 4.7 million people. Quite a number of albums have been sold in Sweden and Denmark also. Coupled with her contribution to the Titanic soundtrack, Christmas in Vienna, and other collaborations, her record sales approach 35 million albums.

A rose developed by Poulsen Roser is named after Sissel and she baptized the rose in Baroniet Rosendal on 4 Aug 2009.[4][5]

Sissel's music on YouTube:


When Sissel was nine, she sang in a children's choir, under a New Zealand-born conductor Felicity Laurence, and Sissel stayed with them for seven years. She said, “That was my musical education. We sang everything ‐ classical and jazz, folk and even Maori songs. People said we sounded like an angel choir because we had this very clean pure sound, almost like an English boys’ choir.” [6] Sissel won her first local talent competition when she was eleven. She was influenced by various musical genres; her parents were interested in country music and classical music, and her brothers' interest in rock influenced her also. Later, Sissel said Barbra Streisand was a huge inspiration.

In 1983, she appeared for the first time on Norwegian TV with the song Evergreen in the children's program Halvsju.[7] In 1984 Sissel appeared in the sing-along program Syng med Oss ('Sing with us') together with a children's choir. The first Norwegian song she sang with this choir was the Norwegian folktune Ung Åslaug.

Sissel sang solo on TV several times in 1984. She also appeared in several TV programs, and met Rune Larsen, who later became her first manager.

1986–1994: Rise to prominence at home

In May 1986, Sissel performed during the intermission of the Eurovision Song Contest, which was arranged in Grieg Hall in her hometown of Bergen.[8] That same year, her first album, Sissel, was released and sold more than 400,000 copies, making it the best selling album in Norway at that time.[9]

In 1987, her Christmas album Glade Jul was released. It contained several traditional Christmas carols and it broke her previous record for best-selling album in Norway. This album still holds the record for being the best-selling album in Norway. Upon its release, it sold more than 600,000 copies in a country with less than five million population and has since been sold approximately a million copies.[10][11] In Sweden, a Swedish language version was released, called Stilla Natt.

In the fall of 1988, Sissel moved to Oslo for a short period to play the role of Maria von Trapp in the Norwegian version of The Sound of Music. This production set box office records and was seen by over 110,000 people.

Sissel recorded the audio dub of the character Princess Ariel for the Danish, Norwegian and Swedish versions of the 1989 Disney movie The Little Mermaid.

In 1989, she released her third album, Soria Moria, and met the man whom she would later marry, Danish comedian and singer Eddie Skoller. The couple were engaged during the Christmas season of 1991 and married on 21 August 1993. They had two daughters, Ingrid and Sarah, before they divorced in 2004.[12]

Sissel and Charles Aznavour performing in Vienna

In February 1994 Sissel performed during the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 1994 Winter Olympic Games in Lillehammer.[13] Legendary Spanish tenor Plácido Domingo visited Norway during the Olympics, where he came across one of her earlier albums. He contacted Sissel and the next day they recorded Fire In Your Heart, an English version of Se ilden lyse, the official theme song of the Lillehammer Olympics. These two versions of the song were released in February 1994 on Sissel's solo album Innerst i sjelen (Deep Within My Soul) a collection of Nordic folk songs. Plácido Domingo invited Sissel, along with world-renowned French singer Charles Aznavour to partake in his annual Christmas in Vienna concert later that year. The concert was broadcast around the world as well as released as an album internationally.[14]

1995–2001: Climb to international recognition

In 1995, Sissel was invited to perform at the annual Royal Variety show in London. There she performed the renowned aria O Mio Babbino Caro from the opera Gianni Schicchi by Giacomo Puccini and the Norwegian classic Vitae Lux with the choir Gli Scapoli.

In 1997 Sissel toured the USA with the Irish group The Chieftains. They appeared, among other places, on the Late Show with David Letterman and in Carnegie Hall.

Later that summer Sissel was involved in recording the soundtrack to the film Titanic, which reached #1 on the Billboard charts and sold more than 24 million copies worldwide. James Horner, the composer of the music in the movie Titanic, knew Sissel from her album Innerst I Sjelen and he particularly liked how she sang Eg Veit I Himmerik Ei Borg (I Know in Heaven There Is a Castle). Horner had tried 25 or 30 singers and he chose Sissel in the end.[15]

Sissel had a #1 hit across Europe in 1998 with Prince Igor, a duet with an American rapper Warren G on the concept album The Rapsody Overture which combined American rappers with European opera singers. Sissel sang an aria from Borodin's opera Prince Igor during the chorus, while Warren G rapped. When the song was recorded, Sissel had just a half-hour to learn the Russian lyrics and she got help from a Russian, who drove a cab in the New York City and the driver's name, incidentally, was Igor.[15]

In 1999, she sang the Gaelic song Siuil A Run on The Chieftains' 1999 album Tears of Stone.

In November 2000, Sissel released (in Norway only) her solo album, All Good Things, which was her first solo album in nearly seven years. In 2001, Sissel released All Good Things throughout Europe and Asia. All Good Things also contained the duet "Where the Lost Ones Go" with fellow Norwegian singer Espen Lind which was released on his album This is Pop Music in 2001.

In December 2000 she was invited to represent Norway at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert, where she sang "One Day" and "Weightless", both songs from her latest release "All Good Things". She was presented by Jane Seymour as "the Norwegian star Sissel."

In 2000 she also released a greatest hits collection in Japan that included two new songs from the Japanese TV show "Summer Snow", one of which was the show's theme song. Sissel is enormously popular in Japan and has released several Japanese versions of her albums there.

In 2001 she was asked to sing a duet with the Danish goth rockers Sort Sol. Sissel sang with them on the track Elia Rising from their album Snakecharmer, released in May 2001. They also performed together at the Roskilde Festival that year.

2002 to present: Global stardom

On October 1, 2002 Sissel released her first album in the USA, which sold over 100,000 copies in its first three months of release with almost no advertisement or marketing.[16] The album sold better than Decca record execs expected. Their initial goal was to sell 100,000 copies in the first 9 months. Her USA album, self-titled Sissel, is largely a re-recording of songs from her Norwegian album, All Good Things with a couple of other songs such as Solitaire and Shenandoah added.

On May 24, 2002 dressed in traditional Norwegian costume, Sissel performed her hit Lær Meg Å Kjenne at the wedding of Princess Märtha Louise of Norway and Ari Behn.

In late 2002 one of Sissel's concerts was filmed at the Oslo Spectrum and later broadcast in March 2003 on PBS in the United States. The British Singer Russell Watson was one of her guests. It was subsequently released as the DVD Sissel in Concert.

In December 2002 Sissel again was invited to represent Norway at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert. Here she sang Somewhere over the Rainbow from The Wizard of Oz, and a duet with Josh Groban. They sang The Prayer.[14]

My Heart

Sissel released her second USA album My Heart, in March 2004, a classical crossover album, which also included two pop songs written by Richard Marx and one ballad Wait A While written by Jon Lord of Deep Purple.

In the summer and fall of 2004 Sissel went on tour with The Lord of the Rings Symphony Tour.[17] Sissel was a featured soloist on an orchestral performance dedicated to the music from the The Lord of the Rings films. At each performance, Sissel performed with a symphony orchestra and choirs with 200 musicians on stage. Howard Shore stated, "Ancient Norwegian mythology and culture had a great influence on Tolkien's work. It is very thrilling to have the Norwegian singer Sissel perform as a soloist in The Lord of the Rings Symphony. Sissel's radiant voice illuminates this work." When asked about the tour in an interview, Sissel raved "I love the music. It's such a wonderful feeling to be sitting in the middle of a symphony orchestra, surrounded by the beautiful voices of the choir and all those gorgeous melodies".

In May 2005 Sissel performed with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in Salt Lake City, Utah on their radio and TV broadcast Music and the Spoken Word, which is featured on nearly 2,000 stations across the USA and around the world. Sissel joined the choir to commemorate the Centennial of Norwegian Independence from Sweden, which was being celebrated that year. Sissel sang the ABBA song Like An Angel Passing Through My Room, Vitae Lux, the traditional Norwegian hymn Herre gud, ditt dyre navn og ære, and the Norwegian national anthem Ja, vi elsker dette landet (Yes, we love this country!), with the choir.

In October 2005 Sissel was invited to perform on the well known temple-concert, Ninna-ji Otobutai, in Osaka, Japan.[18] She sang Pie Jesu, Sancta Maria (intermezzo from Pietro Mascagni's opera Cavalleria Rusticana), You Raise Me Up, and several other songs. The year before, Sarah Brightman was their guest on this concert. This concert was aired on television in Japan.

In December 2006 Sissel again joined the Mormon Tabernacle Choir for their annual Christmas concerts as the featured soloist. In four performances, she sang for more than 80,000 people in the 21,000-seat Conference Center in Salt Lake City. The concerts were videotaped for PBS television, and aired in December 2007.

Sissel has celebrated more than 20 years in the music industry with the release of a greatest hits album containing 40 of her best and most well-known songs.

And in March 2007, a statistically representative sample of the Norwegian population chose her as the best female Norwegian musical artist, in competition with 15 other big names, including Lene Marlin, Wenche Myhre, Kari Bremnes, and Bertine Zetlitz. In the summer of 2007 Sissel toured Norway, Sweden, France and the USA with a band. According to Sissel this is a new concert format without a choir.

For the 2007 holiday season, PBS stations aired two concerts starring Sissel as part of the December pledge drive, one with the aforementioned Mormon Tabernacle Choir titled Spirit of the Season, released on CD and DVD in late September 2007, the other with operatic legend and good friend José Carreras titled Northern Lights, released on CD and DVD in early November 2007. The albums of these concerts have proven to be extremely popular, with Northern Lights reaching #10 in the Billboard Classical Crossover list,[19] and Spirit of the Season staying firmly planted at #1 on the Billboard Classical charts[20] for nine consecutive weeks.[21]

Sissel concluded an eight-city US tour in February 2008, singing selections from Northern Lights.[22] This was the first wing of a US tour that lasted all year. The second wing covered the central and southern United States, and lasted through April.[22]


Awards and recognition

   * 1986 - Årets navn (Person of the Year) by a Norwegian national newspaper VG.[23]
   * 1986 - Årets spellemann (Musician of the Year) in the Spellemannprisen (Norwegian Grammy).[24]
   * 2005 - UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador[25]
   * 2006 - Knight of the 1st Class in the Order of St. Olav. On 2 Feb 2006, The King of Norway knighted Sissel for her contributions to music and as an ambassador for Norway and she was the youngest recipient of this honor.[26][27]
   * 2006 - Juryens hederspris (Most Distinguished Artist) in Spellemannprisen 2006. She is the youngest Norwegian performer ever to receive this award.[28]

Sissel Kyrkjebø, født 24. juni 1969, fødested Bergen. Sanger. Gift 21.8.1993 med dansk sanger og entertainer Eddie Skoller (4.6.1944–), sønn av grosserer Arne Ralf Skoller og Ingrid Paskel, ekteskapet oppløst 2004. To døtre: Ingrid (16.2.1996-) og Sarah (17.8.1999-).

Sissel Kyrkjebø har vært et sentralt navn innen norsk populærmusikk siden hun som 16-åring dukket opp i den internasjonale Melodi Grand Prix-finalen i Bergen og bergtok publikum med sin klare stemme og sin hvite bunad.

Sissel Kyrkjebø vokste opp i Bergen, begynte allerede som 9-åring å synge i kor og vant sin første talentkonkurrranse som 11-åring. 15 år gammel debuterte hun på fjernsyn som medlem av “huskoret” i programserien Syng med oss, og 1985 sang hun Barbra Streisand-sangen You Don't Bring Me Flowers Anymore i fjernsynsprogrammet Kanal 1.

Det store gjennombruddet kom i mai 1986, da hun opptrådte som “pauseunderholder” i den internasjonale finalen i Melodi Grand Prix, som ble arrangert i Grieghallen i Bergen. Hennes versjon av “Jeg tok min nystemte sitar i hende” vakte berettiget oppsikt både i Norge og internasjonalt. Bare 16 år gammel fremstod hun som et usedvanlig sangtalent med en sjeldent uttrykksfull stemme og et stort toneregister. I oktober samme år utkom hennes debutalbum Sissel. Det solgte i 300 000 eksemplarer, som da var ny rekord i Norge, og hun ble kåret til “Årets artist” i avisen VG. I januar året etter fikk hun Spellemannprisen som “Årets spellemann”, og i november gav hun ut juleplaten Glade jul, som til nå er blitt solgt i over 900 000 eksemplarer i Norge. Det er nettopp kombinasjonen av det stuerene, det kristelige og det vakre, både i utseende og sang, som har gjort Kyrkjebø til en så folkekjær artist.

1988 tok Sissel Kyrkjebø skrittet inn i teaterverdenen, da hun hadde hovedrollen som Maria von Trapp i oppsetningen av musikalen Sound of Music på Chateau Neuf i Oslo. Det ble en enorm kunstnerisk og publikumsmessig suksess. 1989 møtte hun den langt eldre danske entertaineren og musikeren Eddie Skoller og overrasket sitt norske kjernepublikum med å gifte seg med ham 1993, etter å ha vært forlovet i to år. Dermed ble hun stemor til Skollers tre voksne døtre. Senere har de fått to døtre sammen.

12. februar 1994 sang Sissel Kyrkjebø OL-hymnen under åpningsseremonien for De olympiske leker i Lillehammer og nådde ut til et stort internasjonalt publikum med sin skjønnsang. Samme år sang hun med Placido Domingo og Charles Aznavour på konserten “Christmas in Vienna”. Hun har ellers bl.a. opptrådt flere ganger sammen med den internasjonalt anerkjente irske folkemusikkgruppen The Chieftains. Videre medvirket hun på “soundtracket” med musikk til storfilmen Titanic, men ble snytt for å synge hovedtemaet. Det ble fremført av kanadiske Céline Dion, som gjorde sangen til en internasjonal hit.

Det har lenge ligget i kortene at Kyrkjebø selv, hennes management og hennes plateselskap kunne tenkt seg en større internasjonal karriere for henne utenfor Skandinavia. Hun har prøvd flere ganger, uten helt å få det til, senest sammen med popartisten Espen Lind i duetten Where The Lost Ones Go (2001). Grunnene til at den internasjonale popkarrieren har uteblitt, er flere. En er at Kyrkjebø velger å prioritere sitt familieliv fremfor å reise på krevende turneer. En annen er hennes litt uklare kunstneriske profil. Hun insisterer på å være den skjønnsyngende familieartisten som har sine julekonserter som årets høydepunkter. Det er ikke like lett å få øye på den internasjonale, “tøffe” popartisten. Men hun har gjort det bra, også økonomisk. Og hun har etablert seg som den desidert største sangerinnen innenfor populærkulturen i Norge i 1990-årene.

Sissel Kyrkjebø ble utnevnt til ridder av 1. klasse av St. Olavs Orden 2006. Hun fikk Spellemannprisens hederspris for 2006.


     Plateinnspillinger (album) i eget navn
   * Sissel, 1986
   * Glade jul, 1987
   * Soria Moria, 1989
   * Innerst i sjelen, 1994
   * All Good Things, 2000
     Andre plateinnspillinger
   * Med Placido Domingo og Charles Aznavour: Christmas in Vienna III, 1995
  • Spirit of the Season 2007, with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir
  • Strålande Jul 2009, med Odd Nordstoga
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Sissel Kyrkjebø's Timeline

June 24, 1969
Bergen, Hordaland, Norge (Norway)