Our Band

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When we formed our band we had three issues that were important for us –

First of all, we were looking for players with a broad musical interest and a wide experience. We wanted to develop our own style of music and we needed a band that could be part of that development. We needed players with a musical confidence, strong enough to see the music from a Secret Garden perspective and see their role as part of a musical concept.

Secondly, we wanted players who could be part of a long-time musical commitment. Around the time we started, I worked with a lot of the most sought-after players in Norway. In a way it could have been tempting to choose from these top players, but I was hesitant going down that road. I discussed this with Fionnuala, and we agreed that working with a band of popular session players, and players involved in many other popular projects, would only create difficulties for our selves at some point. We wanted to form a band where Secret Garden would be the main priority; musicians who could would regard Secret Garden as an important career opportunity.

Third, and not the least important point: we wanted a group of players that could blend socially, be friends on tour on- and off-stage, and work and travel together without any big egos or friction. When you work with top players, musically and technically, it’s not always easy to find your position inside the group of talented people. There can be a lot of individual concerns upsetting a perfect musical and social balance, especially when all the players are artists in their own right. To have a band without conflicting interests was so important.

We were blessed to find our band members very soon; they fell into place in a very natural way.

Rhtyhm Section

Rolf Kristensen

Rolf Kristensen

band_rolf_kThe most consistent part of the group is our rhythm section. Our guitar player Rolf Kristensen has been there since the very first concert in 1995. Apart from a temporary teaching commitment as an Assistant Professor at the University of Southern California, he has played every concert with us. In fact, when he was gone for 6 months, we chose to tour without replacing him. It would be too complicated to sub for him. When he is not touring with Secret Garden, he’s an Associate Professor at the University of Agder (UIA) in Kristiansand, teaching guitar.

He’s a very versatile player with jazz and contemporary music as his forte. He can also do a great classical acoustic guitar arrangement, but he is more confident on stage when he can strap up his Fender Stratocaster and step on his pedal rack.

It took a few years before he let out his artistic talent. In the beginning, he was very happy taking a back position on stage, almost a little shy. Later, he blossomed and became more confident as an artist, taking a front position whenever it’s needed.

In a funny way, he combines these practical and organized characteristics with an astonishing absent-mindedness. In fact, we always joke when we do our count to check if everybody’s onboard the bus: “Is Roofy here?” If the answer is ‘yes’, we know that everybody else is too.

The logistics of a tour, practical details and information can totally pass him by, but on the stage he’s solid as a rock.

Singers

Tracey Campbell

Tracey Campbell

Tracey was the original singer, along with Brian Kennedy, on our recording of ‘You Raise Me Up’ in 2001. After we brought her back with us, she’s been part of our regular touring group. It was great to have her onboard for the promotion of ‘You Raise Me Up’, but her great talent didn’t really come to fruition before we gave her a bigger role in the concerts by singing songs from Inside I’m Singing in 2007. We discovered Tracey’s divine talent when she stepped down from the bleachers of the London Gospel Community Choir and auditioned for the female verse of ‘You Raise Me Up’. We’d never imagined that our music, paired with a gospel singer, would work so well. When we heard Tracey, we just cried. She was perfect for the song and she made it into something more – something magical we could never plan for or expect.

Whatever song she performs with us she’s turning into a personal statement. She has this God-given talent that she’s doesn’t sing a song; the song sings her. Whether it’s ‘Simply You’, ‘The Things You Are To Me’, ‘Powered By Nature’, ‘Sometimes A Prayer Will Do’ or ‘You Raise Me Up’ she’s making it into a powerful spiritual moment. She says she always thinks about God when she sings. When I’m recording in the studio with her it’s actually hard to produce her because I’m so emotionally receptive to her performance I can’t concentrate on technical issues.

On tour she’s a mess, often late for the bus in the morning and always the last to check out of the hotel room. She’s able to miss flights and lose her tickets. It’s a regular part of the tour leader’s job to give her two wake-up calls in the morning. But she’s worth it! She is a genuine world-class talent, and we feel blessed that we’re able to work with her and regard her part of our Secret Garden ensemble.

Top Lines

Hans Fredrik Jacobsen

Hans Fredrik Jacobsen

band_hans_fredrikOur first regular top line player is the Norwegian whistle player Hans Fredrik Jacobsen. He’s the only original member of the band who was on stage with us in Dublin when we won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1995. He’s done countless concerts with us all over the world, but he’s also been busy with his own musical projects, both touring and recording… which means that he’s been unavailable for us from time to time. One of his strengths as a player is his technical excellence. He has a master degree at the University of Oslo as a traditional recorder player, and he is also a versatile improviser of any whistle, which is a rare combination. This means that he’s as capable playing a classical tune with beautiful phrasing as he is improvising fills and creating effects on his instruments. He’s solid as a rock on stage, and he always delivers pure gold in every concert he’s performing with us.

Hans Fredrik enjoys a good meal, a great glass of wine, a good book or some great music. He can produce the most elegant and funny limericks on the spot. There is a story about him I can’t confirm because I wasn’t there, but Espen Andersen, our monitor-mixing engineer, can. On one of our tours he was watching a movie on the plane to China. A group of formal men in black suits was standing right next to his seat discussing something. Hans Fredrik was eventually annoyed by the disturbance they caused, and basically told them to get lost in his slightly ironic and not the most eloquent manner. It turned out that it was the Belgian Prime Minister he’d verbally annihilated.

Hans Fredrik is considered a leading traditional flute player in Norway. His list of recordings and concert projects is a study of Norwegian music history in itself.

Crew

Dag Stephen Solberg

Dag Stephen Solberg

crew_dag_stephenWe met Dag Stephen by coincidence at one of our first corporate events in Oslo. He was coincidentally assigned by the sound company who was hired to do the gig. He was young and inexperienced, but he had this incredible energy and enthusiasm that Fionnuala and I liked. He was ‘hungry’, at the beginning of his career and talented. We saw, in this combination, a perfect potential for us. By investing in his talent and by giving him professional experience along with our own growth as a group, we were confident that Dag Stephen was the right sound engineer for us. This was in 1996 before we started our international touring. When the opportunity came for international concerts, it was never a question of working with anyone else but Dag Stephen… even if he was a novice to the international market.

He is still with us, doing most of our concerts and tours. Needles to say, he’s embedded in our 20-year history, and we rely heavily on his experience and professionalism. Today, he is one of the most sought-after sound engineers in Norway, doing the biggest concerts and events for Norwegian and international top acts.

The sound is essential to a concert, and and there is nothing we can do to affect the sound other than how we play on stage. It’s all resting in the hands of the sound mixer. It could be a subtle detail in the arrangement or a delicate balance between two instruments, it could be the EQs in a difficult hall or it could be the right reverb on the violin. It’s all the small details that will decide how the audience eventually will perceive the music. Everywhere we go, we hear praise of Dag Stephen’s sound. It’s really a matter of trust. We’re very fortunate to have him with us for all these years. He knows our music back to front and still, after almost 2 decades, has this boyish energy and enthusiasm when we work with him.

During a sound check, I might occasionally walk out into the hall just to have a listen and get a feel for the sound. I might have opinions, but mostly I’ve learned to trust our highly qualified sound crew.

In times when Dag Stephen has been unavailable for us, we’ve worked with David Solheim. During the years, he has toured with us on numerous occasions, in Asia, Australia, USA and Europe. There are minor variations in the way they produce sound but they both possess the same ambition and sincerity in their work ethics. David is the calm rock and lets no stress bite even when there’s a storm around him. They’re different persons, but they both share a common understanding of our musical concept,  and they’ve both earned our full respect and confidence.

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Posted May 12th, 5:39 pm

Secret Garden

‘You raise me up’ is translated into more than 40 different languages. This beautiful Creole lyric version (Kenbem), recorded by Haitian-American singer Malou Beauvoir, is one of the resent ones.
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A wonderful version of a wonderful and unforgettable Sacret Garden song ! ❤

Heard this live in concert when you came to Sydney Australia, oh so many years ago. One of the best concerts my hubby and I have been to.

C'est magnifique ♥️
I follow you from Québec ♥️!

👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻 Belíssima interpretação! 🇧🇷

Brillante!!!

Wonderful sacred voice and spirit. ⚘❤ m.youtube.com/watch?v=txD5rRzSaJ4&feature=youtu.be

10000000000000% BEAUTIFUL!!

Thank you so much for this post which I just discovered now. I am honoured and deeply touched, Rolf, for the beauty and grace of your melody was the inspiration and of course Brendan Graham’s spiritual lyrics. Thank you for this song .. in it’s initial version.. Secret Garden’s.. which opened our hearts in the first place.

It is so touched to listen the songs of “You raise me up” as well as “Strength” that Secret Garden performed together with Espen G. Especially so far there are still many Countries are still suffering from COVID-19 pandemic, we truly need the Strength to rise again! Right now we listen to these songs every day to comfort our mind, appreciated Secret Garden as well as Espen G. to perform these songs so nice, especially we think Espen is the best one to perform You raise me up together with Tracey Campbell, thank you very much!

Hello, regards from Ukraine. I am a fan of your music and just writing to inform you that a shameless person here, in Ukraine, in a city of Mykolayiv, plagiarized your album "Song from a Secret Garden". This woman is called Olga Skvirskaya and she published a book called "Song from a Secret Garden", using the visual concept of your album in the cover of it.

*recent

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Posted May 4th, 10:44 pm

Secret Garden

Brendan Graham and Rolf working on ‘You Raise Me Up’ 20 years ago.
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Brendan Graham and Rolf working on ‘You Raise Me Up’ 20 years ago.

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Such a great song, thank you

My daughter walked down the aisle at her wedding to this amazing song. It was perfect – my son-in-law had recovered from a life threatening accident that put him in ICU followed by weeks of rehabilitation. My eyes always mist over when I hear it – the words evoke so many memories and emotions. ❤

So lovely echoes #Secret #Garden 😘🙏🙏🎹🎻🎶🎤#Stay #Safe

What a song! Amazingly talented songwriters and musicians who chose the best for the original release with Brian Kennedy’s vocals. This original version still remains the best in my opinion. Secret Garden & Brian Kennedy. Pure excellence!

The most beautiful song 🎵I know of

This song can still makes me emotional at special moments, even after 20 years! Thanks guys for giving us such a beautiful song 💖

Thank you for such a beautiful song ❤️

Not a bad combination when you put an Irish person and a Norwegian together lol.

Yes, the original version is the best of all! Thank you so much for this gorgeous song!

Heel mooi, ook om zelf met het koor te zingen

Thank you for sharing your talents with this wonderful song.

Thanks for giving Us such a Great song

Thank you for the most beautiful song ever written ❤️

That hymn is an anthem for me! So thankful you received the inspiration to write it!

The most beautiful song ever written ❤🎶🎶🎶🎶
🇸🇯 🇸🇯 🇸🇯

100% GENIUSES!!

For Beautiful Inspiración
beautiful Song

Fantastiske låten 💖🙏🏼🎶

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Posted May 4th, 8:44 pm

Secret Garden

You Raise Me Up is 20 years today!
We are so proud of our song and Brendan Graham’s lyrics as it has journeyed around the world ! Click on the link below to ‘The Pat Kenny Show’ as they chat about its story and followed by a moving performance by the wonderful Irish artist Paul Harrington

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The song “You raise me up” is always with me!

First tome i ever heard it was Brian Kennedy on your album. Most beautiful song ever ❤

Congratulations! One of the best songs EVER!!!!

Congratulations to the anniversary and to a fabulous song. In my ears one of the best songs ever😍👍

Wow!!! I just got goosebumps,…again, as always when I hear this song! ❤🎶

The Original Secret Garden rendition is still one of my favourite songs.

You raise me up so I can stand on mountain.

Vakreste sangen 🧡

Love it Time For You with Tom Dalton

Gratulerer så mye med dagen og kjempefin låt

I bought this album when it was about a year old. Put on repeat. Fell to sleep with it in my ears for 18 months

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Posted April 19th, 4:48 pm

Secret Garden

Happy birthday to our dear Rolf from all the Secret Garden family and friends!🌹
Wishing you a beautiful day and look forward to celebrating together when we leave Covid behind🙏🏼
(Photo: Finn Rune Christiansen)

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Happy birthday to our dear Rolf from all the Secret Garden family and friends!🌹 Wishing you a beautiful day and look forward to celebrating together when we leave Covid behind🙏🏼 (Photo: Finn Rune Christiansen)

Comment on Facebook

Happy Birthday from Brazil!! <3

Happy Birthday Rolf 🎁🎊🎉🎈🎂

Oh yes, looking so much forward to celebrating your birthday after leaving Covid behind us – with much Secret Garden music and you and Fi and all the other lovely guys on stage🥰 Wish you a great birthday together with your loved ones! My biggest wish for you besides creativity is health for you and your family and, of course, the Secret Garden family. Hope to see you all sooooon😘

Happy Birthday. I'm your fan. Fron Brasil!!

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday. 🎂🎉

Happy Birthday ❤

Gratulerer med dagen 🙂

Happy birthday, Rolf! 💐

Happy Birthday !

Happy birthday from New York

Happy Birthday! 🎼

Happy Birthday Rolf 🤗

Happy Birthday from Blokhus, Denmark 🇧🇻🇩🇰

Happy birthday! 🍀

Best wishes from London 🎉❤ XX

Gratulerar på födelsedagen 🎂🎂

Herzliche Geburtstagsgrüße aus Deutschland💕 Familie Eva Sachs🌼

Gratulerer 🥳🥳🇸🇯

Hipp Hipp 🥳🎉🎈🎂🍾🎶🇳🇴

Happy birthday 🎂🌸

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Posted March 19th, 12:29 pm

Secret Garden

On this day March 19th we celebrate #WorldSleepDay – a global call to action about the importance of sound sleep habits.
We are thrilled to participate in a very special collection of peaceful music with a new piano version of Sleepsong.
We wish you all a peaceful weekend 🌙

Listen here: WorldSleepDay.lnk.to/Playlist
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It's a beautiful world.
It's nature.
Beautiful idea.
I think it's a person's mind.
You're pretty.
World Music Love

Lindo demais! A alma voa …

Very nice .Rolf is a genius.

I have just listenened to Rolf‘s piano-only version of Sleepsong several times. Really beautiful❣️ Any plans to make the sheet music available?

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