You may recall my recent series of posts where I rediscovered favourite albums of mine that I had not listened to in a couple of years. One of them was “Storybook” by Peter Jöback. Listening to the album again, reminded me of the mystery of Isa Norberg.
Back in 2004, Isa sang a duet with Peter called “Summer Wine”, a cover of the old Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood hit. It’s one of my favourite songs on the album, partly due to the stunning vocals of Isa Norberg according to the album credits. Later in 2004, I saw Peter in concert and Isa joined him on stage for “Summer Wine”. I fell in love with Isa, her voice and stage presence totally transfixed me.
Well, I thought, someone that talented had to have more of a career than singing one duet but I couldn’t find anything with an Isa Norberg. I kept trying for a while but eventually gave up, thinking the mystery would never be solved.
Listening to the album again recently, reignited my love for Isa so once again, I went hunting and this time I turned up trumps. My internet research skills must be a lot better these days. As I discovered, the difficulty I had in the past was partly due to the fact that Isa had been known by different names and her music had covered different styles from schlager to pop to folk to jazz.
So here, for anyone interested is a potted history of the career of Isa Norberg aka Jessica Pilnäs.
Isa was born Jessica G. Pilnäs and it was under that name that she appeared in Melodifestivalen 1995 (Swedish heats for the Eurovision Song Contest) at the tender age of 16. Her song “Jag ger dig allt” (I give you everything) came third and was a hit for the young singer but, rather than commit to a career straight away, Jessica decided to finish school.
Five years later in 2000, Jessica signed with Sony Records. The record company dubbed her Isa, thinking that were too many Jessicas on the market. As Isa, she released an album called “Pretender” and two singles – the title track and “Everything I Do”. Isa toured with the likes of Robyn and sold well in Japan of all places. This album was very much contemporary pop/R&B.
Here is Isa performing an acoustic version of “Pretender” during a promotional tour of Japan.
Pop wasn’t really Jessica’s thing and she didn’t like being told what to do by the record company so there was no follow up. Jessica got married and started a family. She also studied medicine. Although she was spending her time bringing up her children and studying, Jessica still kept her hand in, guesting on records by Peter Jöback, Bengan Janson, Vacuum and Nils Landgren.
Thanks to Elin, here is Jessica as Isa Norberg (Norberg being her married name) performing “Summer Wine” with Peter Jöback.
And this is “Love Earth Cry” by Vacuum featuring the stunning vocals of Jessica Pilnäs.
Nils Landgren released a Christmas album in 2008 and Jessica provided the vocals for “A Child Is Born” performed here on a Swedish TV show.
Stepping back a moment to 2005, as Jessica Norberg, Jessica joined the group Mormors Visor as lead vocalist and released a Swedish language album “Sådan är kärleken” (Such is love), a mixture of folk and jazz. A really quite beautiful album. Click on the image below to go to the group’s MySpace page and listen to some of their songs.
Now lets flash forward to 2011. Jessica has finished studying and is now a qualified doctor. She feels ready to get back into music and has recently released a brand new album called “Bitter and Sweet”. Jessica’s first love is jazz and this album highlights her jazz voice. A mixture of original songs and covers done in her own inimitable style. Here is her jazz version of the Eurythmics hit “There Must Be An Angel” which is truly brilliant, as is the rest of the album.
The best thing is that almost everything that Jessica has done is still readily available. All three albums (as Isa, Mormors Visor and Jessica Pilnäs) are up on international iTunes as are the Peter Jöback, Vacuum and Nils Landgren collaborations. I was able to order Jessica’s latest from Bengans and my friend, the Best Judge, was able to pick up a copy of the Isa album for me on a recent trip to Sweden.
Jessica’s official site: http://www.jessicapilnas.com
As far as I can ascertain, that is a run down of the career of Isa Norberg / Jessica Pilnäs. Please let me know if I have missed anything.