26-year-old singer Christina Bjordal, hailing from Haugesund, Norway is fast becoming a vocal sensation in her native Nordic land. She's always been into music, always been singing. She entered the limelight in 2003, when Christina Bjordal Band released Where Dreams Begin. "A vocal talent is born", the papers wrote and gave rave reviews, but that was just the start.
Showing huge promise as both a live and commercial concern she soon found herself performing at major jazz festivals and nightclubs. But Christina wanted something more. With her new album Brighter Days she finally emerges as a solo artist of great ability. Intense, beautiful and powerful; she has a voice to match her stunning looks and a strength of personality as a singer possessing both desire and courage to go her own way. A singer who has a lot to say, but who doesn't want to be obvious or overtly mainstream.
She understands the comparison to artists like Solveig Slettahjell or Silje Nergaard. At the same time, she finds this comparison a bit strange." I do my own thing. I can't be anyone but me", she says. Despite her marketable image and potential for niche marketing, her desire for integrity not to mention her overwhelming and genuine talent mark a maturity that will help her progress to the very top. Writer and critic Terje Mosnes from Dagbladet commented, "The seriousness of life has brought a new dimension to her music, and though the album isn't a sad one, the melancholic string never fully stops vibrating," while he also wrote, "Strong and beautiful about life, love and death", as his testimonial to her new album Brighter Days.
So how is an artist born? How does an artist become the artist she is? When it comes to Christina, it's many things. She writes most of her own lyrics, and has many life experiences, thoughts and ideas that she wants to share with the listeners. Not all of the life experiences are good.
"The past sneaks up on me from time to time, and then I can feel my heart beating. But because I can write and sing about it; about journeys, meetings with different cultures, about a tough childhood, about dramatic incidents, well, it has become an inspiration in itself. And the experiences have made me a better writer", says Christina.
She moved around a lot in her childhood. Calls it eventful. Didn't have many friends, and lost her sister when she was 11.Could have become an easy victim for the many temptations and dangers of adolescence. Had it not been for the ten-sing choir Keystone Singers.
"Joining Keystone was like coming home. The day after the weekly practice, I started preparing for the next one. I loved being in a ten-sing choir, Christina says. While growing up, other sources of inspiration surfaced; Radka Toneff, for instance as well as Joni Mitchell. She first heard the seminal album Fairytales by Toneff. When she was 16 and that was to have a profound effect on her.
"I had chills all the way down to my toes. It was big. There was this sad sound in her voice. It was real, without pretense. Both she and Mitchell also have this need to convey something, and I see myself in that." Many times she's been told that she should have music as a hobby, and rather get a decent education. Instead, she's chosen to go her own ways. At times, the price to pay has seemed high. But she has no regrets. And she is happy that she never stopped believing in her own choices. Even though the thought of quitting has been there many times. On stage, she can appear with great confidence and ease.
Though she says of performing; "Every time I go on stage, I wonder why I'm doing it. It has been equally scary every time. But when I'm there, and have started singing, the nerves turn into adrenalin. Which turns into strength. And this strength turns into confidence.
"And when I go off stage, I know very well why I've been there. Music creates deep and intense feelings. Some people just can't live without it. I'm one of those people.But", she adds: "One of the reasons it was so hard, is that I'm also a perfectionist. It's hard, but also a blessing, I think."
There are 12 songs on Brighter Days. They're about wonderment, about joy, death and love, about dusting yourself off and trying again. Christina has a close relationship with every song. But maybe in particular one of them. That song is 'Solitude'.
All through her upbringing, she would listen to the jazz standard 'In My Solitude'. Her grandmother sang in cabarets, and this song was one of the songs she used to sing. When the time eventually came for Christina to make her own 'Solitude', she did so with a far away meeting in the back of her head.
"I was in Asia on a vacation when I was 11. I met a girl my age who was a prostitute. The reality in her story has grown inside me over the years. When I close my eyes and think of her, I see maybe the world's loneliest human being. Bendik Hofseth added a saxophone solo, based on his interpretation of the song. It made me cry. Now it's done, I thought."
So what does she want with her singing, with her songs? "I want the audience to feel what I sing, I want to break down barriers with my music. I want to say things, without saying them literally. I try to always get better at using metaphors. I want to convey something. Life is not easy for anyone. But I know that music can have a healing power."
And maybe these lines, from the opening number of the album, are worth remembering Christina certainly thinks so: "Now is the perfect time to start living freely. Knowing now, we are destined to try"