Silje Nergaard is an award-winning Norwegian jazz-pop singer/songwriter who peaked in popularity after the turn of the century with the chart-topping albums At First Light (2001) and Nightwatch (2003).
Born on June 19, 1966, in Steinkjer, Norway, she cites influences that include Al Jarreau
and Joni Mitchell
. As a teenager she became something of a national sensation when she joined an impromptu jam session at the 1983 Molde Internasjonal Jazz Festival. In 1984 she made her solo recording debut with a 7" single, "One of These Mornings"/"My Funny Valentine," released on PolyGram. Several years later she signed a recording deal with Lifetime Records and made her full-length album debut with Tell Me Where You're Going (1990), the first of three English-language jazz-pop albums produced and co-written by Richard Niles. The highlights of these early albums, the others being Silje (1991) and Cow on the Highway (1995), were later compiled on the best-of collection The Lifetime Years (2005). After parting ways with Lifetime Records, Nergaard released a couple Norwegian-language albums on the label Kirkelig Kulturverksted: Brevet (1995) and Hjemmefra (1996). Upon signing a major-label recording deal with Universal Music, Nergaard broke through to mainstream success in 2000 with Port of Call, a full-length English-language effort comprised largely of cover material. Port of Call was a Top Ten hit on the Norwegian albums chart and set the stage for her chart-topping follow-up albums, At First Light (2001) and Nightwatch (2003). Like Port of Call, these two albums feature a quartet comprised of Tord Gustavsen
(piano, Rhodes), Harald Johnsen (acoustic bass), and Jarle Vespestad
(drums), in addition to Nergaard (vocals). Almost entirely self-composed, Nightwatch was especially successful, earning Nergaard a Spellemannprisen award for Musician of the Year. In the wake of this success, Be Still My Heart: The Essential (2005), a best-of collection also featuring some new material, was released, along with the aforementioned Lifetime compilation. Subsequent albums Darkness out of Blue (2007) and A Thousand True Stories (2009), both Top Five hits, feature an expanded band and arrangements by Vince Mendoza
. ~ Jason Birchmeier, Rovi