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Carola Häggkvist

Carola (2009)
Background information
Birth name Carola Maria Häggkvist
Born September 8, 1966 (1966-09-08) (age 43)
Origin Stockholm, Sweden
Genres Pop, Gospel
Occupations Singer, songwriter
Years active 1983–present
Labels Sonet
Associated acts Andreas Johnson

Carola Maria Häggkvist (born 8 September 1966), better known as simply Carola, is a Swedish singer and occasional songwriter. She has been among Sweden's most popular performers since the early 1980s, and has released albums ranging from pop and disco to hymns and folk music.[1] Her debut album, Främling, sold around one million copies and remains the biggest-selling album in Swedish music history.[2] She has also worked as a songwriter. During her 25-year long career, she has recorded many top-selling albums and singles and is referred to as Sweden's most prominent female singer. Some of her biggest hits include Främling from 1983, Tommy tycker om mig from 1984, Fångad av en stormvind from 1991, All the Reasons to Live from 1992, I Believe in Love from 2001, Genom allt from 2005 and Evighet from 2006.

Häggkvist has represented Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest on three occasions: in 1983, finishing third; in 1991, winning the contest outright; and in 2006, finishing fifth.

Carola has released records in various languages: Swedish, Dutch, German, English, Norwegian and Japanese.


Early life

Carola Maria Häggkvist was born on 8 September 1966 at Södersjukhuset in Stockholm. She grew up in Norsborg, south of the Swedish capital. At the age of eight, she began to perform at Stockholm's Miniteatern; she also attended Adolf Fredriks' stage school.[3] In 1977, Häggkvist won a talent competition and appeared on television for the first time, on Sveriges magasin, performing "Krokodilbarnets klagan".[4]

1981–1989: Early career and Främling

Carola and John Travolta in 1983

In 1981, Swedish music promoter Bert Karlsson met Häggkvist after she performed on television series Hylands hörna, and offered her the chance to take part in Melodifestivalen, the Swedish selection for the Eurovision Song Contest in 1982. She turned down the offer. Songwriter Lasse Holm offered Häggkvist two of his songs for Melodifestivalen 1983, "Mona Lisa" and "Främling" ("Stranger"). "Främling" was chosen, and with it Häggkvist won the right to represent Sweden at that year's Eurovision Song Contest, in Munich. The song scored eight points, the highest possible mark, from all eleven juries. Häggkvist represented Sweden at Eurovision Song Contest 1983 on 23 April. She finished third in front of 6.1 million Swedish television viewers, 84% of the country's population. This is still a record in Sweden.[4]

"Främling" became the title track to Häggkvist's debut album, which sold over one million copies, making it the biggest selling album in Swedish history.[5] After Eurovision, Häggkvist embarked on a tour of European television programmes, promoting "Främling", and performing in it several languages: in English as "Love Isn't Love", in German as "Fremder", and in Dutch as "Je ogen hebben geen geheimen". The album contained hits like Mickey, Liv, Gloria and Tokyo. In December 1983, she released her first Christmas album: Julefrid med Carola.[4] which sold in 200,000 copies. In 1984, Häggkvist release two top-selling pop/rock albums which together sold over 1 million copies. Tommy tycker om mig became a huge hit in Sweden, together with Hunger. She later travelled to Japan and recorded a single in Japanese.[1] In 1985, Bee Gees collaborated with her on the album Runaway, which was written by the Gibb brothers and produced by Maurice Gibb. The record sold double platinum when released in Sweden the following year.[1] The Runaway, Brand New Heart, Spread your wings and Radiate became massive hits in Scandinavia. In 1987, Häggkvist embarked on a church tour with pianist Per-Erik Hallin. After this followed a career hiatus for the singer.[4]

1990–1991: New image and independence: Eurovision victory

In 1990, she returned to Melodifestivalen, with "Mitt i ett äventyr" ("In the middle of an adventure"). The song finished second in the festival, failing to earn Häggkvist the right to represent Sweden at Eurovision. Edin-Ådahl won the event.[6] Her comeback album was released titled Much More, which earned a gold certificate in Sweden.[1] However, Häggkvist and songwriter Stephan Berg had already begun planning another attempt at Eurovision.

In 1991, she returned to Melodifestivalen with "Fångad av en stormvind" ("Captured by a lovestorm"). The song won the festival by thirty-two points and became the Swedish entry for the Eurovision Song Contest in Rome.[6] British bookmakers considered Häggkvist second favourite to win the contest.[7] On the night, with one voting jury left to announce their scores, three countries remained in contention to win the contest: Sweden, with 146 points; Israel, with 139; and France, with 134. Neither Israel nor Sweden won any points from the Italian jury, but France won twelve, leaving Sweden and France tied for first place with 146 at the conclusion of the voting. Sweden won the contest after a count-back, having received five ten-point scores during the voting, versus France's two.[8] "Fångad av en stormvind" became a huge hit in Europe,[1] and was followed by a compilation album, Hits, and a Christmas album, Jul.[4] After her victory she released an international version of Much More and went on an enormous promotion tour throughout Europe. Her album spawned several hits, among them I'll live and All the reasons to live.

1992–2004: Albums, tours and musicals: Establishment as a singer

Carola in concert

Häggkvist was the first Scandinavian pop artist to perform in China—in front of an estimated 600 million television viewers; she also released an album in China in 1992.[1] In 1992 and 1993, Rival International, released Carola's earlier albums on CD. She was originally signed to Mariann Records in Scandinavia.

After the tenth anniversary of her breakthrough in 1993, she recorded a gospel album, My Tribute, which was released in sixteen countries, making her gospel artist of the year in the Netherlands in 1994.[2] The album contains the hit-single My Tribute, one of Häggkvists most well-known songs. In 1994, Häggkvist released a rock-themed album, Personligt ("Personally"), marking her debut as a songwriter and sold gold.[4] Så länge jag lever, Sanna Vänner and Guld i dina ögon became hits and received a great amount of radio airplay.

In 1995, Häggkvist made her debut as a musical actress, playing Maria in The Sound of Music; Tommy Körberg was the male lead. She played the role in 325 performances and won the prestigious Guldmasken ("Golden Mask") award.[1] Three years later, she sang the theme song in the Norwegian musical Sophie's World which was released on the album Songs from Sophie's World.[4] Also in 1998, Häggkvist played the voice of Mirjam, in the Swedish version of The Prince of Egypt.[1] In 2002, she made a short appearance as Fantine in Les Misérables in London and five Scandinavian cities.[4]

In November 1997, Häggkvist released another compilation album, De bästa av Carola ("The Best of Carola"), and with it several new singles like "Dreamer".[9] Following this came an album of tracks penned by Lina Sandell: Blott en dag ("Just One Day").[4] The album received excellent reviews and revealed Carola's passion for hymns. In 1999, another Christmas album was released: Jul i Betlehem ("Christmas in Bethlehem"). The album sold 600,000 units throughout Scandinavia, including 350,000 in Sweden.[1]. and became the biggest selling album of 1999. She also co-wrote the ballad Himlen i min famn which remains a popular Christmas song, often performed at different Christmas concerts. In the summer of 1999, she toured in the Rhapsody in Rock.

In 2001, she released Sov på min arm, an album based on Christian hymns, gospel melodies and intimate ballads. It became one of the most sold albums in Scandinavia that year. In 2002, she release the pop/country album My Show which received great reviews. The album, which marked Häggkvist's return to the pop scene, contained several hits such as The Light, I believe in love, which also topped the Estonian and Brazilian charts, and A Kiss Goodbye. Even though the album only peaked at number 6 on the Swedish album chart, it sold in 100,000 copies by the end of the year. In the summer, Häggkvist embarked on a huge and luxurious Scandinavien tour.

In 2003, Häggkvist submitted a song, "Autumn Leaf", for Melodifestivalen 2003. Having performed the demo, she was required to perform the song when it qualified for the competition. Häggkvist decided against, and the song was disqualified from the competition.[10] "Autumn Leaf" appeared on Häggkvist's next album, Guld, platina & passion, in Swedish as "När löven faller" ("When the leaves fall"). The ballad became an enormous hit. Guld, platina & passion topped the Swedish charts for over a year and sold in over 300,000 copies. She also recorded her favorite Elvis Presly songs, Walk a mile in my shoes and If I can dream. The following year, Häggkvist released a religious album, Credo, which she described as "an expression of my love for God".[11]. The album peaked at spot 2 on the Swedish album chart. This was followed by Störst av allt, which Dan Backman of Svenska Dagbladet wrote featured "spiritually aimed music…revolving around belonging, love, death and eternity".[12] Genom Allt became a huge radio hit in Sweden and the soul ballad Allt kommer bli bra mamma, a dedication to her deceased mother, became popular within religious events.

2005–present: Return to contest

Carola in 2006

Having performed as part of the interval act at Melodifestivalen 2005,[13] Häggkvist confirmed that she would return to the competition in 2006. She performed "Evighet" ("Eternity"), written by Bobby Ljunggren, Henrik Wikström and Thomas G:son, which she described as a "true winning song".The song qualified from the semifinal in Gothenburg on 11 March 2006,[14] and was widely tipped to win the festival outright as the final at the Stockholm Globe Arena approached.[15] Despite finishing second with the regional juries to Andreas Johnson, "Evighet" won the competition with 232 points.[16]. Prior to the contest, Carola visited 12 countries where she promoted her song. Invincible received a large amount of air play on the radios in these countries. The song qualified from the semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest in Athens, in English as "Invincible". Häggkvist in the end finished fifth out of twenty-four with 170 points.[17]. This placing also made her the second most atist in the history of Eurovision, counting by total points earned in her performances, with her three songs scoring a total of 442 points. She's only behind Dima Bilan, the 2006 runner up and 2008 winner.

Following Melodifestivalen, Häggkvist released a pop album, Från nu till evighet ("From Now to Eternity"). Lennart Wrigholm reviewed the album for Musiklandet; he criticised the amount of new material on the album: "Has this old lady really got such a workload that she cannot put more than ten new tracks on her album?" and wrote that the inclusion of the English version of "Evighet" as a bonus track was "an insult to the potential buyer".[18] On the other hand, Expressen's Anders Nunstedt wrote that on "Jag ger allt" ("I Give It All") "the title does not lie" and that "Vem kan älska mig" ("Who Can Love Me") features a "brilliant refrain".[19] The album topped the Swedish sales chart, and sold in approximately 100,000 copies by the end of the year. Stanna eller gå, a Latin-inspired pop song, became a radio hit during the summer. Following the album's release, Häggkvist toured Sweden and received outstanding reviews.[20] During the autumn, Häggkvist had problems with her voice but nonetheless recorded a duet with Andrea Boccelli titled Because We Believe.

In late 2007, Häggkvist released another Christmas album, I denna natt blir världen ny ("There is a New World This Night"), a sequel to Jul i Betlehem. The album featured songs in Swedish and English, and was recorded in Jerusalem in June 2007.[21] Stefan Malmqvist of Svenska Dagbladet wrote that, like in previous Christmas albums, Häggkvist is "a saccharine version of herself" when singing Christmas carols.[22] The album was reported to have sold in 90,000 copies. Included on the album was the gospel song Go and Tell It on the Mountain. After the release she toured Scandinavia.

Carola entered Melodifestivalen 2008 as part of the duo Johnson & Häggkvist with Andreas Johnson. Their first single was called Lucky Star which became popular on the radio. In the melodifestival in February, they sang "One Love", written by Carola, Johnson and Peter Kvint.[23] They were the early favourites to win the whole show, taking part in the second qualifier. They qualified for the Second Chance round, missing out on an automatic final spot. Though widely tipped to qualify for the final after all, they did not even proceed from the first voting round in the Second Chance programme. Although One Love did not become an enormous success, the song Lucky Star which they released a few months prior to the contest did sell well, and topped the Swedish charts for weeks. Carola decided to take it easy the rest of the year, but did embark on a small Christmas tour at the end of the year. In 2009, Carola was reportedly working on her upcoming album, and other projects. She went to the United States to record some new material. She departed from her recording company and signed a contract with X5 Music Group, in which she aims to transfer her music abroad through the internet. In June, she hosted Carola Camp, a camp designed to help talented young singers and entertainers. In May, she performed at the Eurovision Song Contest held in Moscow at the kick-off ceremony, performing her 3 Eurovision songs. In July, she performed, together with the Eurovision winner Alexander Rybak in Norway and sang "Fairytale" and "Främling" and The Jackson 5's "I'll Be There". At the end of 2009, she released the album Christmas in Bethlehem, which contained duets with artists like Paul Potts. She embarked on yet another Christmas tour, visiting Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland. She also launched her new website.

Personal life and media attention

Her status as one of the most popular national celebrities of her country made her more or less constantly followed by the tabloid press. She has often talked about her Christian faith and much of the focus has been around her membership in the church Livets Ord. Some people have criticized her for objecting to giving homosexuals more rights in Sweden, something she has denied saying.

She has been a member of the evangelical congregation Livets Ord. She was married to Runar Søgaard, a Norwegian Christian preacher, with whom she has a son, Amadeus, which means "Loves God". Her parents both passed away in 2004.


In an interview in 2002 for the Swedish gay magazine QX, she alienated many gay and some heterosexual fans by alleging that she knows homosexual persons who have become heterosexual through prayers. She also said that homosexuality would always remain "unnatural" to her.[24]

Four years later, her comment was brought up when she participated in the Swedish national selection for the Eurovision Song Contest in March 2006. During a press conference a journalist tried to ask her if she still had the same opinion. According to the Swedish newspaper Expressen, Carola did not answer the question because her advisors told her to keep quiet because answering questions about her stance on homosexuality could cost her the trip to Athens and could also cause a lot of embarrassment and negative media attention.[25]

On March 15, 2006, Rickard Engfors, who is gay and Carola's cooperating partner during the Melodifestivalen and Eurovision Song Contest 2006, said "Carola doesn't hate gays. If she did, I wouldn't work for her. She is a fantastic person."[26]

During an exclusive interview for one of the Eurovision-related websites before the 2006 contest, Carola was also questioned about this, and stated that she "would love for every gay person to feel that she loves them" and that she does not think that "being gay is a sickness". She went on to criticize the tabloids for misinterpreting her original words and making an issue out of it. Later in the interview, she also commented on one of her supporting dancers being gay and his boyfriend being "great".[27]



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Carola will represent Sweden again. Retrieved on 29 February 2008.
  2. ^ a b Carola International. History - Biography. Retrieved on 29 February 2008.
  3. ^ Åsa Hagenblad (7 September 2006). Carola: "Känns som att fylla kvinna". Sydsvenskan. Retrieved on 29 February 2008.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Carola vi älskar dig - Heja Sverige!. Retrieved on 29 February 2008.
  5. ^ Tara Moshizi (26 February 2008). Carola hyllades av kändiseliten. Malmö Lund City. Retrieved on 29 February 2008.
  6. ^ a b Leif Thorsson. Melodifestivalen genom tiderna (1999, second edition 2006). Stockholm: Premium Publishing AB. ISBN 91-89136-29-2.
  7. ^ Terry Wogan. Eurovision Song Contest 1991, BBC One commentary feed. Originally broadcast on 4 May 1991.
  8. ^ Eurovision Song Contest 1991. Retrieved on 1 March 2008.
  9. ^ Carola International. 1993 and Just the way you are, which topped the charts for several weeks. Retrieved on 1 March 2008.
  10. ^ Sietse Bakker (17 December 2002). Carola's Autumn Leaf exits. Retrieved on 18 March 2008.
  11. ^ Lisa Jannerling (27 July 2005). Gud fick mig att kasta blomman. Retrieved on 18 March 2008.
  12. ^ Dan Backman (13 May 2005). Störst av allt. Retrieved on 18 March 2008.
  13. ^ Martin showade hem segern. Sundsvalls Tidning (13 May 2005). Retrieved on 18 March 2008.
  14. ^ Carola och Kjellman till Globen. Retrieved on 18 March 2008.
  15. ^ Sietse Bakker (18 March 2006). Carola will not sing in dress rehearsal. Retrieved on 18 March 2008.
  16. ^ Peter Tai Christiansen (18 March 2006). Carola härifrån till evigheten - och Aten. Retrieved on 18 March 2008.
  17. ^ BBC News (21 May 2006). Finnish monsters rock Eurovision. Retrieved on 19 March 2008.
  18. ^ Lennart Wrigholm (11 June 2006). Från Nu Till Evighet: Mycket Väsen För Lite Ull...... Retrieved on 19 March 2008.
  19. ^ Anders Nunstedt (27 April 2006). Anders Nunstedt betygsätter "Från nu till evighet" - låt för låt. Retrieved on 19 March 2008.
  20. ^ Alexander Borodin (13 June 2006). Det här är Carolas stora sommarturné. Retrieved on 19 March 2008.
  21. ^ Leif Råberg (12 November 2007). Carola releases new Christmas album. Retrieved on 19 March 2008.
  22. ^ Stefan Malmqvist (14 November 2007). I denna natt blev världen ny – Jul i Betlehem II. Retrieved on 19 March 2008.
  23. ^ (15 January 2008). Carola & Andreas unite. Retrieved on 16 January 2008.
  24. ^ - Info
  25. ^ eurosong,Homophobic,Homophobia,music,sweden - - Homophobic Carola to Eurosong in Athens - Sweden - Stockholm
  26. ^ "Carola är feg och falsk" - Expressen 15 March 2006
  27. ^ Eurovision Song Contest Serbia 2008 | News - Exclusive: Carola (Sweden) speaks out!

External links

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
with "Dag efter dag"
Sweden in the Eurovision Song Contest
Succeeded by
with "Diggi-Loo Diggi-Ley"
Preceded by
Toto Cutugno
with "Insieme: 1992"
Winner of the Eurovision Song Contest
Succeeded by
Linda Martin
with "Why Me?"
Preceded by
with "Som en vind"
Sweden in the Eurovision Song Contest
Succeeded by
Christer Björkman
with "I morgon är en annan dag"
Preceded by
Martin Stenmarck
with "Las Vegas"
Sweden in the Eurovision Song Contest
Succeeded by
The Ark
with "The Worrying Kind"

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