Sami Grand Prix

The 18th annual Sami Grand Prix took place at this year's Sami Easter Festival in Guovdageainnu earlier this month. The Sami Grand Prix is Sápmi's answer to the Eurovision song contest and takes its name from the Scandinavian semi-finals called Melodi Grand Prix. Each year the contestants compete in two categories, yoik and song. The songs can and do include some yoik, but within the context of modern music. While the yoik category is reserved for traditional yoik (accapella.)

The festival began in 1990, and since 2001, a highlights CD of live performances has been released by Rieban records. We will review each of the five Sami Grand Prix CDs (the 2002 is currently unavailable.) You may order the CDs here.

Each CD starts out with the song category, and presents the three winners plus other highlights. The second part of the CD is the yoik portion. There are typically 4-6 contemporary songs and 10-12 traditional yoiks on each CD. While the traditional yoiks are generally strong throughout, the song portion can be hit or miss. The top three choices for overall best CD are 2001, 2004, and 2006.
Highlights below.

-Sofia & Anna "Meahccii mánná (Children of the Forest.)" The duo also released a CD single which included a music video. Sofia is Sofia Jannok, who now has a solo career and a new CD, look for more about her on the blog and in an upcoming issue of Árran.
-2x Oskal (Berit and Inger Johanne Oskal)
"In dieđe vel ( I still don't know.)" Berit also now has a solo CD, released this spring. Look for more on Berit soon.
- Wenche Hætta and Annbjørg Hætta "Girdilan (I'll fly away)" A catchy tune that seems to stay in your head.
-Marit Susanne Utsi sings a pretty ballad, "Du haga (Without you.)" Marit's brother is the well known Sami rapper Slincraze. This family made history at the 2007 Sami Grand Prix when Marit, Slincraze, and for the first time, their mother Marit Inga Utsi
were all finalists in the contest. Marit won the contest in 2000.
Standout yoik:
Anna Biret Peltopera (photo left) yoiks her nephew, "Tor Morten."
A gorgeous yoik. This was Anna Biret's first year at the Sami Grand Prix, and she has won two times since, including 2007.

This CD leans more toward miss than hit as far as the contemporary music side, but there are a few jewels in the mix. A plus is that this is the only CD of the series to have English liner notes.
-Sara Marielle Gaup, now of Adjágas fame, is featured here as a bonus track. This was an intermission performance with her then band Jakumbé, a "multinational Samba group." In a traditional samba form, Sara Marielle yoiks faster and faster to the samba rhythms until your head spins and you wonder how she does it.
-Sofia Jannok is in top form on the track "Liekkas," demonstrating the lovely voice and skillful yoiking that shone through
in her earlier work as part of Sofia & Anna.
-Annbjørg Hætta returns with, "Cumma (Kiss,)" this time in a duet with DjAnte on this memorable pop song.
Standout yoik:
-Lill-Therese Holm Varsi (photo right) "Máret Elle." The then fourteen year old beautifully yoiks her friend Máret Elle.

-Annbjørg H
ætta "Mun dárbbašan du (I need you.)" Another catchy song.
-Johan Kitti "Eŋglelat lávllodit (When the angels sing.)" This fellow knows how to craft a pop tune, and appears on several of the Grand Prix CDs. Recently released his first CD. Look for more on Johan Kitti coming soon.
- Tiita Rasmus and Mihkkal Rasmus Logje "
Geassái fárrestan." Tiita and Mihkkal were 13 and 12 respectively at the time, and have a fun dance song here.
Standout yoik:
-Sara Marielle Gaup's lovely yoik of her sister "Lena Sun
á" highlights the gorgeous voice and technical yoik prowess that is her own.

This may be the weakest choice in both contemporary and yoik departments, with a few standouts.
-Tiina Sanila plays hard rock on"Kiurral." The track is most notable for the fact that she is the only person who records rock music in the Skolt Sami language.
-Johan Kitti appears once again with another catchy tune, this time with Siv Hermansen for the duet Násttážan (My golden star.)"
-Slincraze "Givssideapmi." Nils Rune Utsi aka Slincraze is the Sami rap sensation out of Máze, Norway. For 2007 he rapped with his sister Marit (below photo,) and the pair took second place in the song category. Slincraze has been rapping since he was 14. Now 17, he already has an appearance on Norway's version of American Idol, plus a performance for the King of Norway at his 70th birthday celebration under his belt.

-Ola Stinnerbom, known for his theatrical performances, must have really wowed 'em with his modern yoik song of the bear last year - two versions of the track appear on this CD. He is the winner of the song contest 2007, and is the first South Sami to win the event.
-Johan Kitti returns with Sara Ellen Bähr on the track "Ludiin muitalan (With the song I am telling you.)" The duo won not only the 2006 Sami Grand Prix, but in the same year and with the same song won Liet-Lavlut, the annual European minority language song competition.
-Yat Kha is a Tuva band that mixes traditional throat singing with all manner of modern influences. This is the first time a non-Sami group appears on a Grand Prix CD.
-Sami Children's Choir (photo top) comes out with a sweet and charming medley of some of the best loved contemporary Sami music, including the above mentioned "Mun dárbbašan du" by Annbjørg Hætta and Sofia & Anna's "Meahcci mánná."

Standout yoik:
-Simon Issát Marainen (above photo) "Juoiggan ustitvuoda." Simon placed second in 2006 and 2007, and is currently working on his debut album.

Watch video of this year's Grand Prix here. This is a short program on Sami TV about the event which includes full length performances by the 2007 winners in each category, plus a few other highlights.