A stellar new singer breathes life into the South Sami tradition
Few artists have surprised Norwegian music listeners in the same way as the joik artist Marja Mortensson. Her music represents an original take on the South Sami tradition,fresh and ambitious, but also familiar. She is also one of the most interesting singers to emerge on the Norwegian scene in a while. Together with co-composer Daniel Herskedal and Trondheimsolistene, she will visit Oslo World with new works that center around the balance between choosing one’s own path in life at the same time as belonging to a tradition.
Mortensson comes from Engerdal in Østerdalen, the southernmost part of the South Sami area. She grew up in a family who has herded reindeer and preserved the Sami traditions. Her mother taught her the language, which is spoken by approximately 500 people today. The last few years, Mortensson’s career has skyrocketed and in 2014, the Riddu Riddu festival named her “Young artist of the year”. This year she won a Spellemann, the Norwegian Grammy equivalent, for her debut album Mojhtestasse – Cultural Heirlooms. The award didn’t really come as a big surprise – Mortensson’s first album made many people take notice – it was a confident and playful piece of music, fueled by Mortenssons unique voice and a handful of creative compositions.
Tuba player and composer Daniel Herskedal, who has composed commissioned works for BBC Concert Orchestra and Brad Pitts Plan B Entertainment, was Mortenssons collaborator on Mojhtestasse. Now, they have composed new music, spanning from the duo format to elaborate string arrangements, existing somewhere in between contemporary music and joik. They will perform these new works at Cosmopolite during Oslo World, together with Trondheimsolistene, one of Norway’s most active and accomplished string ensembles the last 30 years. It will be a chance to experience this emerging young star in yet another new context.