I am a Norwegian jazz singer and I live in the town of Tromsoe up in the high north of Norway.
I started playing the guitar at the age of ten. I remember hurrying home after school, eager to listen to records, if necessary at a low speed, to be able to pick up what the guitar player was doing. I also sang, and my early inspirations were artists like Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Paul Simon and Neil Young. I would sing along with them for hours! For several years I performed in shows, parties, venues and charity events in my hometown Harstad.
From the start I liked to sing the melody a little different every time, and little by little I started to improvise in my singing. My brother had bought an album by Keith Jarrett, "Facing you". I played it several times a day for at least a year, while I sang along both on melodies and improvisations. I listened to Billie Holiday, Karin Krog, Sarah Vaughan, Sheila Jordan and Betty Carter, and was rapt by their phrasing and expression. In short, my musical training has been learning from listening to singers as well as instrumentalists. I have no formal music training.
In 1995 I released my first CD ”Song, Fall Soft” with a Norwegian jazz quartet. The Penguin Guide To Jazz gave it full score and called it ”a quite marvelous record" and the editor of the American jazz magazine Cadence picked the CD as one of his choices that year. ”A thoughtful, haunting session”, they wrote.
In 1998 I started my own jazz quintet, Marit Sandvik Band, and I also started writing music. I passed ten great years with this band, doing tours in Norway, Canada and Russia. Our release ”Even Then (Mother Song)” named after a song to my mother, moved the critics. Jazz Podium in Germany wrote: „She is perfectly at home in the world of various musical genres, colors her voice occasionally with happiness, but never sweetness; at other times as transparent as glass, or dark with a warm edge, always tasteful and suitable to the piece. She has found fellow musicians who are on the same wave length as herself ... ... a highly recommendable CD!“ Norwegian Puls wrote: ” ... we are in the presence of a mature and strong woman and musician. ... a class interpreter of ballads ... she knows better than most vocalists how to use pauses and air.”
From 2001 I have been guest artist on a number of releases with jazz, folk and even rap music. Being invited to take part in other musicians´ projects is of great inspiration. Lately I have written and arranged music for choirs, and in 2014 I had cooperation with Tromso Chamber Orchestra, where I wrote and arranged the concert ”Painted Lady – Marit Sandvik With Strings”. My co-arranger was Stein Medby.
In 2014 I met and played with Italian drummer Maurizio Picchiò. We are releasing our first album in 2016.
As a child I would hear Brazilian music on the radio, and I can still capture the sensations of the rhythms and how they touched me. In 1993, together with fellow musicians, I started the sextet “Bossa Nordpaa” (meaning “bossa in the north”). We lasted for twelve years and one release, ”Uma Onda No Mar”. From 2013 I have a new band playing bossa nova and samba music, Marit Sandvik & Nova Onda. I write some of the music for this band and I sing both in Portuguese and Norwegian.
I love the dynamics of a small combo and have an ongoing duo with jazz guitarist Oystein Norvoll. We played at Molde International Jazz Festival in 2003, and have played on other festivals and on radio- and TV-shows. The transparency in the duo format is fun and challenging. Sometimes we invite guest musicians to join us in concert or on tour.
During the years I have been a soloist with bands and choirs under the leadership of Tore Johansen, Erlend Skomsvoll, Henning Gravrok and Nisse Sandstrom, among others. I also sang West-African music for five years.
As a member of Roger Johansen Group I sing originals from Johansen with lyrics from the American poet Emily Dickinson. We have three releases, the last one ”On The Up” from 2014.
I am fortunate to have received two music prizes; Thorgeir Stubo Memorial Price in 1993 and The Northern Light Prize in 2011.
I have likewise received scholarships and grants both from public grants and private contributors.
I´ve taught vocal improvisation at the Music Conservatory of Tromso since 2006.