Sångarporträtt: Thyra Karlsson

Thyra Karlsson

With the third release in Svenskt visarkiv’s Sångarporträtt (Singer’s Portrait) series, it is now folk singer Thyra Karlsson’s turn.

Märta Ramsten, who made most of the circa three hundred recordings of Thyra, describes the process of creating this compilation: “Painting a singer’s portrait of Thyra Karlsson is not hard with the help of her songs – except for the fact that it’s always difficult to have to select a only few. This selection of folk tunes and ballads hopefully reveals her joy of singing. Her beloved zither is heard on the recordings, often as a very discrete accompaniment.”

Thyra Karlsson was born in 1912 and grew up in Alanäs, in the region of northeastern Jämtland. At home, she came into contact with music at an early age, singing together with her sisters for celebrations at the end of the school year and various other events. Over the years, she learned hundreds of songs and her broad repertoire can be considered fairly typical of the popular songs sung in Swedish homes during the first decades of the 20th century. It includes children’s songs, rhymes, school and chap book songs, love ballads, and religious revival songs – but also popular schlager hits that she heard on the radio and gramophone.

Musicologist and previous director of Svenskt visarkiv (Centre for Swedish Folk Music and Jazz Research) Märta Ramsten, who, together with Ville Roempke, made recordings of Thyra, has written insightful liner notes about the recordings and the songs which were eventually chosen for inclusion on this CD from the Caprice label. It was one of Thyra’s dreams to make a record, which unfortunately was not fulfilled until after her death in 2001. This year, however, Thyra becomes properly acknowledged with the CD release by folk music trio Triakel, which includes a part of Thyra’s repertoire. A taste of Triakel’s very fine interpretation of two of Thyra’s songs can be heard on the last two tracks of this Caprice CD: “Gubben och gumman” (The Old Man and Woman), and “Om jag en gång en man ska ha” (If Ever I Shall Have a Man). Both of these can also be heard on the CD with Thyra’s versions.

Other Singer’s Portraits on CD from Svenskt visarkiv include Martin Martinson from Orust, and Dansar Edvard Jonsson from Malung.

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