black and white photograph, Monica Zetterlund singing by a mic stand.

Monica Zetterlund

Jazz singer and Swedish Sensation

Swedish singer and actress had a long career which lasted for decades

Adrian Murphy (abre numa nova janela) (Europeana Foundation)

Swedish singer and actress Monica Zetterlund's long career lasted for several decades, bringing acclaim for her Swedish jazz singing and worldwide cinematic fame.

Zetterlund's musical career began in her teenage years, singing with her father's orchestra in her hometown Hagfors, in western Sweden.

black and white photograph, a woman on stage with a band.

Even though she didn't know the language well at that stage, she learnt the lyrics to English songs by listening.

What was Monica Zetterlund's first album?

When she was 21, in 1958, her debut album Swedish Sensation was released, one of more than twenty albums she released throughout her career.

black and white photograph, a woman singing on stage while the audience watch.

After taking the jazz scene by storm in Stockholm, she performed in London and New York with well-known jazz musicians and artists.

Was Monica Zetterlund in Eurovision?

In 1963, she represented Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest, held in London.

black and white photograph, a group of performers line up for a photograph under a large scoreboard.

Her song was En gång i Stockholm, a slow jazz ballad. This style of music was not very suited to Eurovision, nor popular with the juries. Zetterlund, sadly, did not score any points (the dreaded nul points) and came joint-last in the competition.

black and white photograph of the 1963 Eurovision Song Contest scoreboard.

However, this placing did not unduly affect her career. The 1963 Eurovision Song Contest saw three performers take part, each of whom continued to enjoy successful musical careers despite not winning: Françoise Hardy (who came fifth), Nana Mouskouri (who came eighth) and Monica Zetterlund.

black and white portrait photograph of Monica Zetterlund.

In 1964, she recorded the jazz album Waltz for Debby which was a critical success. Through the preceding decades, as recorded music became more widespread, songs in English from the USA and UK in particular were popular.

Zetterlund had, of course, learned the words to many of these songs.

From then on, Zetterlund sang jazz songs in Swedish, often singing Swedish language covers of popular English language songs. She worked with many popular and successful song-writers and composers.

black and white photograph, Monica Zetterlund on stage.

From the mid-1960s onwards, she began acting in films, television shows and plays.

Her most memorable role was in The Emigrants, a 1971 film which was nominated for five Academy Awards. It tells the story of emigration from Sweden to the USA in the 1850s. In the film, Zetterlund played Ulrika, a former prostitute who travels to Minnesota with the main characters.

Later in life, she suffered from scoliosis which had developed following a childhood accident, as well as problems with alcohol. In 2005, Monica Zetterlund, aged 67, died tragically in a house fire in Stockholm.