Swedish singer and occasional songwriter, Carola Häggkvist — better known as simply Carola — has been among Sweden’s most popular performers since the early 1980s, and has released albums ranging from pop and disco to hymns and folk music. Her debut album, Främling (Stranger), sold around one million copies and remains the biggest selling album in Swedish music history. During her career, she recorded many top selling albums and singles and is referred to as Sweden’s most prominent female singer.
Carola represented Sweden at the Eurovision Song contest on several occasions, finishing in first, third and fifth place, which makes her one of the artists with the best track record in Eurovision history. No wonder we were rejoicing when Carola finally accepted our invitation to visit us. Carola has been on top of our wish list for a few years.

Intimate and wonderful...
On Friday, Jan. 11 we hosted a fundraiser that included a VIP reception, mini concert and a conversation between Carola and Louise Linder, the new minister of South Florida's Swedish Church. The Scandinavian Center, built with funds contributed mainly by the Norwegian Seamen's Church headquarters in Bergen, Norway required a commitment of support from the Scandinavian community in South Florida to help cover costs. Benefit events like this help work toward the goal of honoring this financial commitment.
It was a very intimate and wonderful event. Carola sang a few songs before and after the interview together with her band: Eleonor Ågeryd (backup vocals), Jimmy Källkvist (bass) and Johan Röhr (director).
Saturday's concerts were magical. Carola told stories from when she sang with the Bee Gees in Miami, and about the time her mom passed away but the next day a song come to her: “Allt kommer bli bra mamma” (Everything is going to be okay mama). I don’t think there was a dry eye in the audience. And of course we got to hear “Främling” (”Stranger”) and “Fångad av en stormvind” (“Captured by a lovestorm”) and a few gospel songs, which is music very dear to Carola’s heart.
On Sunday morning guests were invited to the Swedish-Norwegian church service. Carola was participating with the Swedish Choir, led by her friend and prominent Swedish choir director Gabriel Forss. The choir lifted the roof with their gospel song and Carola's own “Så länge jag lever” (”For as long as I live”). More on Gabriel Forss: Anyone can sing gospel

A huge thank you to Carola and her band for entertaining us!

Filippa Leijonhufvud-Reading