Artist Profiles: Mari Boine

Mari Boin Ohoto by Ola Røe

Mari Boine (aka Mari Boine Persen) was born November 8, 1956 in Karasjok, Norway. She is feasibly the most famous Sami artist in the world. This remarkable singer has been an effective spokeswoman for Sami culture, both in her music and in interviews. As she explained: “I used to think men oppressing women or governments oppressing people realized what they were doing and were just cynical. But then I realized that often they are unaware and are filled with fear. I feel I have to find my way to their hearts to let them know what they are doing. It’s the only way to change things. That’s why I feel my music is important.”

Our first relationship is to nature. You are part of nature, not the master of nature. This also gives us a strong sense of solidarity – you are about other people. Money is not important and power is not important. It’s more your personality, the human being that is important.”

Mari Boine’s music is directed by her robust and passionate voice, plus a few carefully selected instruments from people all over the world, notably the native South Americans. Most characteristic is her drum. She uses an African drum, but the combination of drum and voice goes back to ancient Sami culture and pre-Christian shamanism.

The colonizers brought Christianity and told the Sami they had to forget their primitive religion – and music was part of that religion. A lot of people of my parent’s generation don’t accept the music, they say it’s devil’s music and what you sing when you’re drunk – the colonizers also brought alcohol. When I started to use a drum some people got worried and said, ‘Is she a Shaman?’ So I decided I couldn’t use a Sami drum.”

I think your voice is a mirror of your soul and how you feel inside. When I began I was singing pop songs and ballads and didn’t sing from the heart. Over the last ten years I’ve been fighting this feeling of being inferior to Norwegian or western people and my voice got stronger as I decided I wouldn’t let anyone oppress me and that I have a value as S?mi. Western culture makes a distance between you and your body or heart. In Sami culture you think of everything as a whole.”

Her debut album Jaskatvuoda manna was released in 1985, although her breakthrough came in 1989 with Gula Gula.

Mari also collaborated with various international artists, among them Peter Gabriel on One World One Voice (1990) and Jan Garbarek in 1991/1992.

She has written commissioned works for both Vossajazz (1994) and Telemarksfestivalen (2005).

She composed the music to, and had the only role in, Mona J. Hoels short film Vuolgge mu mielde bassivárrái (Bli med meg til det hellige fjell) (1995).

Mari also wrote the music for the German film adaptation of the Hans and Greta fairytale (2005).

In 2003, Mari Boine was presented the Nordic Council Music Prize.

Discography:

* Jaskatvuoa maá Etter Stillheten (1985)
* Gula Gula Hør stammødrenes stemme (1989)
* Salmer på veien hjem, with Ole Paus and Kari Bremnes (1991)
* Møte i Moskva, with the band Allians (1992)
* Goaskinviellja Ørnebror(1993)
* Leahkastin Unfolding (1994)
* Eallin Live (1996)
* Bálvvoslatnja Room of worship (1998)
* Odda hamis Remixed (NorthSide, 2001)
* Gávcci jahkejuogu Eight Seasons (2002/NorthSide, 2003)
* Idjagieas In the hand of the night (2006)
* Kautokeino-opprøret (2008)
* Čuovgga Áirras / Sterna Paradisea (2009)
* Gilve gollát – Sow Your Gold (2013)

web site: http://www.mariboine.no

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music and progressive music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music and electronic music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World, Lektronic Soundscapes, and Mindchild Records. Angel is currently based in Durham, North Carolina.

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