Bernhoft wins Statoil stipend

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Jarle Bernhoft, a singer and songwriter from Nittedal just north of Oslo, is having a great year so far after winning yet another major prize at the annual by:Larm music festival over the weekend.

Singer and songwriter Jarle Bernhoft is this year's winner of the Statoil stipend, worth NOK 1 million. PHOTO: By:Larm 2012

Bernhoft was named Årets Spelleman (Artist of the Year) and best male artist of the year last month. Now he’s won the annual Statoil stipend, good for NOK 1 million (USD 166,000).

“I’m a bit weak in the knees right now,” Bernhoft said after the winner was announced on Saturday. “There were so many deserving recipients. “I’m very happy.”

The stipend is presented to Norwegian musicians believed to have international potential, and the money is to be used towards gaining international exposure. Bernhoft, who started playing with the rock band Span but went solo in 2008, already is planning an album launch in France and is due to perform in Denmark and Germany later this spring.

“After seeing the candidates perform, there was no doubt,” Espen Lind, head of the stipend jury, told newspaper Aftenposten. “As a live artist, the winner has talent and radiance that’s world-class. You’d have to be unusually blasé not be be both fascinated and engaged when you see him on stage.”

Asked about his own ambitions, the 35-year-old Bernhoft said they were the same as before: “I want to play for people and communicate in a way that will touch them.”

Ten performers were nominated for the prize including Jonas Alaska, Mayhem and Sondre Lerche, who already has gained some fame outside Norway. It was the fifth year Statoil has awarded the prize, with earlier winners including Ingrid Olava, Ida Maria, Mahthias Eick and Kvelertak.

Some artists have criticized the prize because it’s backed by oil money, and Bernhoft himself said he was more fond of wave- and wind energy that Statoil’s oil sands. “But I also understand that the welfare we have already is lubricated by oil,” he said. And he said he had no intention to suddenly “start flying Business Class. I think this money will go a long way.”

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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