Alexander now ‘Artist of the Year’

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Alexander Rybak, the young musician from Nesodden who won last year’s Eurovision Song Contest, has now also won Norway’s highest award within the local recording industry. Rybak was named Årets Spellemann (Artist of the Year) on Saturday, while DonkeyBoy, a young band from Drammen, won two of the four prizes for which it was nominated.

Rybak, age 23, has had a fairy tale year, after his hit song by the same name won Eurovision by the biggest margin ever. Since winning that award last May, Rybak has had an exhaustive schedule of concerts and appearances in Norway and abroad (he’s shown here performing at the Nobel Peace Prize concert in Oslo) and he was clearly tired at the annual Spelleman awards show in the Oslo Spektrum Arena Saturday night.

The Spellemann awards are the local equivalent of the Grammy Awards. Rybakk told newspaper VG after the show that winning the best Spellemann prize of them all would give him a burst of energy. “This is therapy for me,” he told VG.

Rybak thanked his former girlfriend, Ingrid Berg Mehus, and his fans — also “the 15-year-old guys who admit that they like my record.” Rybak. educated as a classical musician, told VG he plans to continue his pop music career for another year but then intends to devote time to composing and film music.

Rybak’s overwhelming victory for Norway at the Eurovision Song Contest means Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) will be hosting this year’s Eurovision in Oslo in late May.

Also doing well at the Spellemann show over the weekend was the Drammen band DonkeyBoy, which emerged just last year and clearly has made its breakthrough. The band was voted “Newcomer of the Year” and won the prize for the best video of the year, with its song Ambitious.

Noora Noor, who put out the well-regarded album Soul Deep last year, won the prize for best female artist of the year. Sivert Høyem was voted best male artist, for his album Moon Landing.

The Tord Gustavsen Ensemble won the prize for best jazz artist, while veteran entertainer Jahn Teigen won the Årets hederspris, the equivalent of a lifetime achievement award.

The Spellemann awards were established nearly 30 years ago, with backing from the recording industry, to make the music branch “more serious” and eligible for public funding like that made available to authors. They’ve been awarded every year since 1973.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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