The years of Gospel The Church of Sweden in New York. February, 1980. This dress was so beautiful with its brilliant nuance of magenta, but buttons had been more reliable than metal press snaps. When I threw my hands in the air during one of the concerts, the snaps instantly unsnapped to reveal my ample torso packaged into my faded bra and cotton panties. Whoa! Yeah. On cue and strangely in sync with the snaps, the audience awakened with a fresh, spirited alertness. A helpful passerby snapped the photo of our little group in New York City. Esbjörn is on my left, my husband Lennart is behind me and Esbjörn’s wife is to my right. An Arctic chill with icy winds held Manhattan hostage during our entire stay. An older jazz horn player, Sumpen, had made a career change and become a minister. When I came to his church, the trumpet materialized and Sumpen played a swinging jazz rendition of ”When The Saints Go Marching In”. It set the church swinging. I put together a short tour, set out for the States and performed a few Gospel concerts at the Church of Sweden in New York, as well as other local churches. I was accompanied by a young, promising piano player, the late Esbjörn Svensson. Working with this sweet, fantastic guy was so much fun. He would later become world famous when he founded his jazz group, the Esbjörn Svensson Trio. Getting the audience on their feet and clapping to the backbeat, while they were keeping time by rocking back and forth to the first and third, turned out to be a learning curve for many in the audience. Yet, more often than not, with the help of the choir, they managed. Any rendition issues that the choir had, they more than made up for in their enthusiasm. Energy is an important ingredient in a successful Gospel concert. Saint James's Church (Sankt Jacobs kyrka) Stockholm 1984. Singing Gospel at that particular time was awkward and cumbersome. A member of the audience whispered to another: “Ugh. Look how fat she is!” Sitting right in front of these two ladies, my friend turned around and hissed at them: “Can’t you tell that she is in her last weeks of pregnancy?” Oops! It was my final concert at the church before welcoming my first baby into the world. Gospel. I really, really, really wanted to come across as innocent, pleasant, sweet, nice and gentle. Sometimes I even succeeded. This was my first poster. I had started so cautiously. Both when it came to my wardrobe and my performance. I had never done concerts with different choirs. Never toured churches. And here I was, suddenly meeting a totally different gallery of opinionated, obstinate recluses and remarkable personalities. I, who came from the peculiar world of cabaret, snuck in to a different cosmos of theological beliefs. Culture Shock! As soon as I had started feeling at ease with my new environment, concert bookings began pouring in. My parade of costumes could also proceed – like this atypical, inconceivable and most difficult to transport creation that I wore during that first year. And, I had sooooo much fun- loved singing Gospel! Floda Church. Letting the energy flow, I sang, received, and let go. Klara Church 1986. Touring Sweden and singing Gospel became my education of higher learning. I met many fantastic, wonderful people, but also the occasional eccentric, peculiar and odd personalities, reminiscent of cloned soap opera characters. Klara Church 1984. Keeping my hands to myself was impossible, which the dress was designed to reinforce. Klara Church 1984-2. In June of 1984, I got married. From the start, I knew that my wedding dress would come to good use when singing Gospel. I suspect that I have one of the most utilized wedding dresses in the world. Though the cornflower blue disappears in the black and white photo, the dress has a few other redeeming qualities. Besides its stunning look, it is comfortable to wear and is conveniently flexible, in that the width could be instantly changed. Like when you happen to go through nine months of everchanging pregnancy sizes. A full view of my wedding dress at a Gospel performance in the very north of Sweden, in 1985. My new, little baby had just popped out. Thus, the beautiful dress was back to being loose and free. Really gorgeous and unbelievably comfortable to wear. What joy it was putting the pedal to the metal, opening my throat and voice and give it my all. I was able to reset while driving and, set free and express all of my feelings. My attire looked ridiculous. It was really difficult to put on and wrinkled instantly if it was not hung. And, there was the rub. It refused to stay on the hanger and had to be continuously ironed, which in itself was challenging. This dress was not a hit. It fought me every step of the way, but it was, and will always be, my first. The annual Song Festival in Västervik, 1985. How the known musician and festival arranger Hansi Schwarz found me will forever remain a riddle. Yet, there I was, standing on the wall of a medieval castle ruin, singing old favorites as well as my own Gospel compositions with a small local choir. I had to work at introspection. Again and again. To experience the force with which my heart responded and sang through me, was incredibly touching. This photo is just wonderful. Such a proud mama! First time parents have a special look about them; that of having had something of a cataclysmal experience. Ella looks straight into the camera. In the earlier photos, she was the one camouflaged within my body. My arms were always on their way somewhere. Up, down, to the side. My arms lived their own lives. Gospel combines so much passion, with an equal dose of genuine sincerity. A perfect fit for me, after the unwieldy cabaret years, where everything had to be intense and performed ‘outside the box’.