Wenche Myhre has been singing and performing since she was 13 years old. Right after turning 70 last week, she filled the Oslo Spektrum Arena for a birthday bash with an orchestra conducted by her partner Anders Eljas, and made it clear she has no plans for leaving the limelight.
“A dinner at home with the family, that was my little plan,” Myhre told newspaper Aftenposten just before her 70th birthday celebration broke loose. “But then came more and more inquiries about my birthday and I found out that I would celebrate with family, good musical friends and the public. The whole package! With exclamation marks!”
Among those performing with her and honouring her last weekend were Oslo’s popular brass band known as Kampen Janitsjar, a gospel choir and Norwegian singers Bettan, Johnny Logan and Jan Eggum. Her actual birthday was February 15, with the party taking place on the 18th.
The woman who had a smash hit in the 1960 called La meg være ung (Let me be young) still sends off youthful vibes and but just released a new collection of hits entitled Da jeg var ung (When I was young). She was Norway’s sweetheart for decades, and many will argue she still is.
Wenche Myhre (roughly pronounced “Venka Mirra”), born in 1947, was discovered in a talent contest in 1960 and signed her first record contract at the age of 13. She had a string of pop hits in the 1960s and ’70s, her own show on German TV, has won many of Norway’s biggest music prizes and been knighted by the king. Newspaper Dagsavisen recalled last week that in 1963, Myhre had four singles on Norway’s pop list at the same time.
Her next big success came when she appeared in Melodi Grand Prix, Norway’s qualifier for the Eurovision Song Contest. She only won fourth place, but her song La meg være ung soared to the top of the charts. More than 50 years later, it’s still her trademark.
She also became Norway’s first solo artist with an international career, winning thousands of fans in German-speaking countries on the continent and having her own TV show where the spelling of her name was changed slightly to “Wencke.” From there she launched into theater, more television appearances and concerts that continue to this day.
Her personal life has been rocky, despite her near ever-present smile. Married and divorced three times, she has four children and 10 grandchildren and still lives in her house on the island of Nesøya, west of Oslo. She has no plans for retiring.
“Age is just a number,” Myhre told Aftenposten. “My job is more fun now than it’s ever been. I’m on holiday when I’m on the job. Being on stage is the only place where I really relax, with no telephones, no disturbances. On the stage is where I get my energy.”