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'I just love Swedish blonds'

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16:16 CEST+02:00
LaGaylia FrazierSince arriving in Sweden from Florida in 2001, LaGaylia Frazier has become one of the best-known faces on the Swedish music scene. She has competed twice in Melodifestivalen and is a stalwart of Robert Wells' legendary Rhapsody in Rock concerts. The American soul diva's voice was described by one journalist as a cross between Shirley Bassey and Tina Turner.

How would you have reacted if somebody had told you ten years ago that you would soon be big in Sweden?

Am I big in Sweden? I am not so sure about that, but I guess I would never really expect to be in Sweden period! I am not someone who projects vary far into the future in my head, so I don't really think so much about where I'll be in 10 years.

But I never thought I would be here in this beautiful country making my living playing for so many people at the same time – that part is the biggest surprise. When I think of the sizes of the audiences that I have been in front of, I can actually get butterflies all over again.

When you first got here you moved to Sundsvall. That was a big step - did you have doubts? And what did you make of the place when you arrived?

I had absolutely no doubts when I decided to move, because I was in love and wanted to be with my boyfriend, and he lived in Sundsvall. It was the biggest decision I have ever made in my life, but I have never looked back.

I had already been to Sundsvall before I moved, so I knew sort of what it was like, but I didn't really get the "vibe" of Sweden until I moved. Living in another country is definitely a different experience no matter how you look at it.

I have traveled a lot in my life and I have learned that every country has its pluses and minuses. It's a matter of what you prefer. I happen to like a cooler climate, blonds, clean air and water, forests and space, fish, and challenges. Sweden happens to offer all of those things and more.

What was your first impression of Rhapsody in Rock?

Surprise. I had no idea what to expect when I came and we don't have anything like Robert in the States. I was pleasantly surprised to see so many loyal fans cheering him on!

Your Swedish seems to have come on in leaps and bounds. How did you learn?

Tack så mycket! I did a show in Malmö called West Side Story and I played Anita – a pretty meaty part. She had a speaking role and the show was in Swedish so that was a big learning experience for me.

I didn't learn much grammar, but I had a diction coach that taught me the basic principles of pronunciation in this language. I didn't really start speaking in a social way until I met my present boyfriend. He has encouraged me greatly over the past year and as we all know, the more you speak, the more you learn and can speak. I surprise myself sometimes!

Any other plans to sing in Swedish?

I have sung a song called Cecilia Lind in Swedish, it was the first song I learned in this language and I intend to do more.

Which Swedish artists have impressed you most?

I really love Helen Sjöholm, Jerry Williams, Håkan Hellström, Eric Gadd, Lisa Nilsson, Esbjörn Svensson, Nisse Landgren, Janne Lundgren, and that group that sings "We're not living in America" with that cool blonde front girl [The Sounds – ed].

Any plans to perform outside Sweden?

Sure. I travel to Finland and Norway a couple of times a year and do some gigs there, but I plan to do more in the future. I also do some private things here and there in Spain and Germany, but I will probably do a comeback gig in Florida soon – just to say hi again.

Quick Fire

Have you ever eaten Surströmming?

NO

Carola or Lena Philipsson?

Carola's voice, Lena's attitude

What do you like most about living here?

The challenge

What do you like least about living here?

The fear in people

What's your favourite Swedish word?

“detärsomdetär”

LaGaylia in concert

The next chance to see LaGaylia live will be at Luleåkalaset in Luleå on August 5th. She will be performing in Mjölby on August 9th, and in Överkalix with Robert Wells on August 25th. Her next performance in Stockholm is at Nalen on September 19th.

More details at LaGaylia's website.

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