A songbird’s julegave

No Christmas without Sissel!

With a career spanning over four decades, Sissel Krykjebø—commonly known simply as Sissel—has been called Norway’s “Queen of Christmas.”

Lori Ann Reinhall
The Norwegian American

No Christmas without Sissel! Ever since the release of her first holiday CD, Glade jul—the best-selling Norwegian CD of all time—that has been the general consensus. Sissel Kyrkjebø was only 18 years old when it climbed to the top of the charts, and since then, she has attained a worldwide following that almost feels more like a cult than a fan club—so adored is this artist. People travel far and wide to hear her perform, and judging from my own experience and from the comments I see posted on social media, it is always well worth it.

Now a mature artist with a career that spans over four decades, Norway’s songbird is still going strong. Throughout the month, the Norwegian “Queen of Christmas” will be out on her usual holiday tour that will take her through Norway, Sweden, and Denmark.

But for those farther away and all of her fans, Sissel has created a special Christmas present this year: a new CD release she calls 5. It is a collection of songs from the five trilogies she released during 2022 and 2023.They are songs you won’t hear anywhere else, as Sissel wrote and produced all the trilogy songs with her husband, Ernst Ravnaas.

The first trilogy is a love story in three parts. The next four trilogies have different themes that link the songs together­—“No Farewell,” “Big Questions,” “Colors of Life,” and “Summer Moods.”

These original songs are also available on all major streaming services. If that is how you choose to enjoy them, the best way to access them is from Sissel’s website at sisselmusic.com/discography-release/5.

Here you will also gain access to videos where Sissel talks about the songs, what they mean, and what they mean to her.

One of my favorites on the new release is the song “Free,” which describes Sissel’s personal definition of freedom, how certain things need to be in place in life to feel free.

Sissel’s latest CD, 5, is now available for purchase, just in time for Christmas.

In a recent Facebook posting, Sissel talks about the relevance of the song for us today: “As many terrible things take place around the world, the lyrics of the song are not less relevant. What most of us take for granted—to be free­—is not the reality for many others,” she writes.

“As human beings we need to be loved, we need to be respected and have freedom to think and live as who we are—no matter beliefs, gender, culture or nationality.”

“I am so privileged to have the freedom to speak, to believe what I want and to be who I am. But we must never forget: Freedom is not a reality for everyone.

“I believe that we will not be totally free until we are all … free.”

Sissel’s new CD 5 was released in October to be ready for the holidays. Everyone who orders it before Dec. 31, 2023, will get it signed by Sissel. It is her hope it will be a nice Christmas present—a Norwegian julegave—for loved ones or perhaps a pre-Christmas gift to one’s self. To place your order, visit Sissel’s online webshop at sisselmusic.com/product-category/webshop.

Photos: Kristin Saastad / Early Bird Music

This article originally appeared in the December 2023 issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE.

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Lori Ann Reinhall

Lori Ann Reinhall, editor-in-chief of The Norwegian American, is a multilingual journalist and cultural ambassador based in Seattle. She is the president of the Seattle-Bergen Sister City Association, and she serves on the boards of several Nordic organizations.