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Hallbjörg Bjarnadóttir – „Björt mey og hrein“

The singer Hallbjörg Bjarnadóttir (1915–1997) was born at Hjallabúð in Fróðárhreppur parish on the peninsula Snæfellsnes. Her parents were Geirþrúður Kristjánsdóttir and Bjarni Hallsteinsson. She had a twin sister, Kristbjörg and a younger sister, Steinunn, who both were singers and actresses, living in England. Bjarni, their father, was a sailor who died when Hallbjörg was only 10 years old. She was then put in foster care at Brunnastaðir in Akranes. At fifteen, she went alone abroad to learn opera singing in Copenhagen but soon turned to jazz. Around twenty she came home and gave concerts to a full house, many times. She was the first woman to sing pop songs in Iceland, first female who sang jazz songs, and was bullied as a result. Her vocal range was very extensive and she was sometimes called „the girl with the three voices“, because she sang three octaves, from sopran to bass. Hallbjörg was also a painter and lived and worked for a while in Denmark and The United States where she performed in television. She moved to Iceland in 1992 with her husband, Jens Fischer Nielsen, a pharmacist and artist from Denmark. Stefán Jökulsson wrote her biography, Hallbjörg – eftir sínu hjartans lagi, (Hallbjörg – singing from the heart), which was published in 1989. Among Hallbjörg´s best known songs is „Björt mey og hrein“ (folk song), lyrics by Stefán Ólafsson from Vallanes. This song is in open access in the Sound Library of The National and University Library of Iceland, hljodsafn.landsbokasafn.is. The song was published on a record in 1955 together with „Vorvísa“ (Vorið er komið og grundirnar gróa), lyrics by Jón Thoroddsen (1818-1868), with the accompaniment of the Ole Höyer Orchestra.


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