The legendary voice of the Sami culture

Mari Boine is the most famous Sami singer and chanter Norway has produced. Her powerful voice and vivid and strong personality has enchanted Norwegians as well as Samis for years. She recently released her latest album, Eight Seasons, and as per usual received raving reviews.

Mari Boine

Mari Boine was born in 1965. She grew up in Finnmark, Norway’s northernmost region, where many Samis reside. When she was a little girl, the society she lived in was heavily influenced by Christian evangelical churches, and the ancient culture of the Sami was suppressed. Although Mari soon adopted an opposing stance, fighting for Sami culture, and women’s liberation, the hymns followed her further.

Boine was taught from a very early age that her cultural heritage was something to be ashamed of. This is something she has never forgotten and to this day she continues to fight for and be proud of her roots. But she has also shown a great insight to Norwegian culture and often tries to link the two cultures together.

Mari Boine’s music is naturally heavily influenced by her Sami cultural heritage. Joik (sami chant) is an important part of her repertoire, but she also uses elements of jazz, rock, and native music from all over the world. Her first album, ”Gula Gula”, was released in 1989. Only in Norway at first, but then a little later, it was released world wide through Peter Gabriel’s label ”Real World Music”. With her success followed many tours around Europe and the States. But that is far from all, she has also won Norwegian Grammies, played with numerous musicians, sung at royal weddings, and released seven albums, to name a few things.

With her latest production Eight Seasons (Gávcci Jahkejuogu in the Sami language), Mari Boine’s music continues to evolve. She now combines her own music, developed over a long period with new elements from the urban sounds of the turn of the millennium. Joining in – and surely responsible for many of the new impulses – is the Norwegian pianist Bugge Wesseltoft, who along with trumpeter Nils Petter Molvaer, has decisively helped to tear down the barriers between the jazz scene and other musical styles, opening up jazz to a new, younger audience. Wesseltoft was already a force behind a Boine remix album, which appeared last year, and seems to have made Mari Boine abandon her reservations regarding electronic rhythms.

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