American wins stardom in Norway

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Adam Douglas, a 36-year-old singer from Oklahoma, soared to stardom in Norway Saturday night when he won the annual nationally televised competition called “Stjernekamp.” It’s billed as selecting the country’s “ultimate entertainer,” and marked the first time the Norwegian public chose an artist who arrived in the country just 10 years ago.

Adam Douglas (right) was stunned when he won Norway’s annual singing compeition again nine other artists Saturday night. At left, runner-up Didrik Solli-Tangen concedes defeat and joins in the applause. PHOTO: NRK screen grab

“This is completely insane,” exclaimed Douglas, who otherwise spoke impressive Norwegian live on national TV throughout the 90-minute show aired nationwide by Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK).

Stjernekamp has been running on NRK every Saturday night for the past nine weeks. It started out with 10 participants, most of them already well-known performers in Norway, with the public voting on their favorites each week. The artist with the least votes is literally voted out, and this year they included popular Norwegian singers such as Benedicte Adrian, Ida Maria and Aleksander Walmann, who won Norway’s qualifier to the Eurovision Song Contest earlier this year.

Only two candidates were left in Saturday night’s prime-time final, with Douglas facing tough competition from Didrik Solli-Tangen, another former Eurovision candidate who specializes in opera. They sang three songs each, and it was Douglas who won the hearts and minds of the television audience with his performances of False Alarm, his own song I used to be an honest guy and Try a little tenderness.

Adam Douglas wore his trademark hat and glasses during his performances Saturday night, as fans in the audience waved signs featuring drawing of him and urging viewers to “Vote for Adam.” PHOTO: NRK screen grab

“He conquered all of Norway,” said a gracious Solli-Tangen in conceding to his rival after an intensive autumn. Douglas literally stole the show with his powerful voice and soul on stage. He’d been favoured to win, and he pulled it off with proud parents sitting in the audience.

Newspaper Dagsavisen had reported earlier in the week how Douglas came to Norway when he’d been asked to step in as singer for a band that was making the rounds of summer music festivals in 2007. He met and fell in love with young Norwegian woman standing before the stage, flew back to Oklahoma to sell most of his belongings and headed back to Norway. He’s been performing ever since, “paying his dues,” as he told Dagsavisen, by singing at weddings, funerals, in the kitchen and on stage. “I really prefer to sing soul,” he said, adding that he’s also comfortable with big band and country.

He now lives in rural Hadeland north of Oslo, where a Member of Parliament and former government minister was among those cheering him on at a Stjernekamp party in is adopted hometown. He has a busy concert schedule ahead of him, with sold-out performances through Christmas.

“I’m an American living the Norwegian dream,” he said on stage Saturday night. His father, who’d expected him to finish medical school in the US, delivered a taped message of encouragement during the show, generously claiming that “you’re exactly where you should be, doing what you were born to do.” The Norwegians seem to agree. Berglund