Mari Boine

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Mari Boine
Mari Boine performing in 2018
Mari Boine performing in 2018
Background information
Birth nameMari Boine
Born (1956-11-08) 8 November 1956 (age 65)
Karasjok, Norway
GenresJoik, folk rock
Years active1980s–present
LabelsReal World, Lean AS

Mari Boine (born Mari Brit Randi Boine, 8 November 1956) is a Norwegian Sámi singer. She combined traditional Sámi joik singing with rock.[1] In 2008, she became a professor of musicology at Nesna University College.[2]


At Kongsberg Jazz Festival 2007
In Warsaw, September 2007

Mari Boine was born and raised in Gámehisnjárga, a village on the river Anarjohka in Karasjok municipality, Troms og Finnmark county, Norway.[3]

Boine's parents were Sámi who made their living from salmon fishing and farming. She grew up steeped in the natural environment of Sápmi, but also amidst the strict Laestadian Christian movement with discrimination against her people: for example, singing in the traditional Sami joik style was considered "the devil's work". The local school Boine attended reflected a very different world from her family's. All the teaching was in Norwegian.[4]


As Boine grew up, she started to rebel against the prejudiced attitude of being an inferior "Lappish" woman in Norwegian society. For instance, the booklet accompanying the CD Leahkastin (Unfolding) is illustrated with photographs with racist captions like "Lapps report for anthropological measurement", "Typical female Lapp", "A well-nourished Lapp"; and it ends with a photo of Boine herself as a girl, captioned "Mari, one of the rugged Lapp-girl types" and attributed "(Photo: Unidentified priest)".[5]

When Boine's album Gula Gula, originally released on her Iđut label in 1989 and rereleased on Peter Gabriel's RealWorld label in July 1990, its front cover showed an iconic image of the tundra of the far north, the eye of a snowy owl. The front cover curiously did not show the name of the album, or the name or face of Mari Boine herself; the back cover printed the name 'Mari Boine Persen', the Persen surname identifying her as a Norwegian rather than a Sámi.[6][7] On the 2007 release on her own Lean label,[8] the album cover explicitly names Mari Boine with her Sámi surname, and shows her in traditional robes as a shamanistic dancer of her own people, while the white background, like the snowy owl of the original release, hints at the snows of the north.

Boine was asked to perform at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, but refused because she perceived the invitation as an attempt to bring a token minority to the ceremonies.[9]

Musical style[edit]

Boine's songs are strongly rooted in her experience of being in a despised minority. For example, the song "Oppskrift for Herrefolk" ("Recipe for a Master Race") on her breakthrough CD Gula Gula, sung in Norwegian unlike the rest of the songs which are in Northern Sámi, speaks directly of "discrimination and hate", and recommends ways of oppressing a minority: "Use bible and booze and bayonet"; "Use articles of law against ancient rights".[10]

Boine's other songs are more positive, often singing of the beauty and wildness of Sápmi, the Sámi lands of northern Scandinavia. The title track of Gula Gula asks the listener to remember "that the earth is our mother".[11]

Boine sings in an adaptation of traditional Sámi style,[12] using the "joik" voice, with a range of accompanying instruments and percussion from indigenous traditions from around the world.[13][14] For example, on Gula Gula the instruments used include drum, guitar, electric bass clarinet, dozo n'koni, gangan, udu, darbuka, tambourine, seed rattles, cymbal, clarinet, piano, frame drum, saz, drone drum, hammered dulcimer, bouzouki, overtone flute, bells, bass, quena, charango and antara.[15]

In 2017, she released See the Woman, her first English-language album.[16]


In Oslo, 2003

Rootsworld, interviewing Boine in 2002, described her as "an unofficial Sámi cultural ambassador".[17]

The Guardian, in its 2010 F&M playlist of songs "they just can't turn off", describes "Mu Ustit, Eŋgeliid Sogalaš (My Friend of Angel Tribe)" with the words "Norwegian Sami singer Boine, with this soft, melancholy and utterly mesmerising song."[18]

Johnny Loftus, reviewing Boine's Eight Seasons/Gávcci Jahkejuogu, wrote that "Boine seems to have been inspired, collaborating with producer Bugge Wesseltoft for a collection of pieces weaving her alternately supple and intimate, angry and otherworldly vocals into moody arrangements tinged with jazz influence and electronic programming."[19] While there was a degree of cliché in that, wrote Loftus, it worked well, concluding: "Boine's voice, filtered at first behind the halting notes of a guitar, builds in strength over the brooding electronic rhythm, until her Joik overtakes the electronics completely, becoming fully responsible for the song's deep, chilly atmosphere. Let's see a keyboard's hard drive do that."[19]


In 1993, Boine became the first recipient of the Áillohaš Music Award, a Sámi music award conferred by the municipality of Kautokeino and the Kautokeino Sámi Association to honor the significant contributions the recipient or recipients has made to the diverse world of Sámi music.[20][21]

In 2003, Boine was awarded the Nordic Council Music Prize. She was appointed knight, first class in the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav for her artistic diversity on 18 September 2009.[22] On 7 October 2012, Boine was appointed as a "statsstipendiat", an artist with national funding, the highest honour that can be bestowed upon any artist in Norway.[23]

Boine has received other awards as follows:

Preceded by
first recipient
Recipient of the Áillohaš Music Award
Succeeded by
Preceded by Recipient of the Open class Spellemannprisen
Succeeded by
No Open class award
Preceded by Recipient of the Open class Spellemannprisen
Succeeded by
No Open class award
Preceded by Recipient of the Open class Gammleng-prisen
Succeeded by
Preceded by Recipient of the Nordlysprisen
Succeeded by
Preceded by Recipient of the Open class Spellemannprisen
Succeeded by
Preceded by Recipient of the Norsk kulturråds ærespris
Succeeded by
Preceded by Recipient of the Spellemannprisen honorary award
Succeeded by


  • Jaskatvuođa Maŋŋá/Etter Stillheten as Mari Boine Persen (Hot Club, 1985)
  • Gula Gula (Hør Stammødrenes Stemme) (Iđut, 1989)
  • Salmer på Veien Hjem as Mari Boine Persen with Ole Paus and Kari Bremnes (Kirkelig Kulturverksted, 1991)
  • Møte i Moskva with Alyans (BMG Ariola, 1992)
  • Goaskinviellja/Eagle Brother (Lean, 1993)
  • Leahkastin/Unfolding with Roger Ludvigsen, Helge A. Norbakken, Hege Rimestad, Gjermund Silset, and Carlos Z. Quispe (Sonet/Lean, 1994)
  • Eallin — Live (Antilles/Lean, 1996)
  • Radiant Warmth (Antilles 1996)
  • Bálvvoslatjna/Room of Worship as Mari Boine Band (Antilles/Lean, 1998)
  • Remixed/Ođđa Hámis, (Jazzland/Lean, 2001)
  • Eight Seasons/Gávcci Jahkejuogu (Lean/EmArcy/Universal, 2002)
  • Idjagieđas/In the Hand of the Night (Lean/Universal, 2006)
  • Kautokeino-Opprøret (Music from the Movie The Kautokeino Rebellion) with Svein Schultz and Herman Rundberg (Sony/ATV Music, 2008)
  • It Ain't Necessarily Evil/Bodeš Bat Gal Buot Biros: Mari Boine Remixed Vol. II (EmArcy/Universal, 2008)
  • Čuovgga Áirras/Sterna Paradisea (Lean/EmArcy/Universal, 2009)
  • Áiggi Askiis – An introduction to Mari Boine (Lean, 2011)
  • Gilvve Gollát/Sow Your Gold featuring the Norwegian Radio Orchestra (Universal, 2013)
  • See the Woman (MPS, 2017)

Also appears on[edit]

With Jan Garbarek


  1. ^ Donelson, Marcy. "Mari Boine". AllMusic. Retrieved 3 May 2020.
  2. ^ "Mari Boine blir musikkprofessor" [Mari Boine becomes music professor]. (in Norwegian). 6 December 2008.
  3. ^ "Unofficial Biography of Mari Boine". 1996. Archived from the original on 5 June 2011. Retrieved 2 September 2011.
  4. ^ "Biography". Archived from the original on 3 October 2011. Retrieved 2 September 2011.
  5. ^ Booklet accompanying CD 'Leahkastin', Mari Boine, Verve World (523889-2), 1994.
  6. ^ DuBois, Thomas A.; Cocq, Coppélie (2019). Sámi Media and Indigenous Agency in the Arctic North. Seattle, Washington: University of Washington Press. p. 111. ISBN 978-0-295-74661-6. Retrieved 19 February 2021.
  7. ^ "RealWorld". July 1990. Retrieved 11 November 2011.
  8. ^ Erdal, Silje F. (23 March 2011). "Lean Record Label". Archived from the original on 25 April 2012. Retrieved 11 November 2011.
  9. ^ "Mari Boine Biography". Artist Direct. Archived from the original on 4 June 2010.
  10. ^ "lyrics".
  11. ^ "Gula Gula". Archived from the original on 31 March 2012. Retrieved 2 September 2011.
  12. ^ Edström, Olle (2003). "From Jojk to Rock & Jojk: Some Remarks on the Process of Change and of the Socially Constructed Meaning of Sami Music". Studia Musicologica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae. T44 (Fasc. 1/2): 269–289. JSTOR 902650.
  13. ^ Kraft, S.E. (2015). "Shamanism and Indigenous Soundscapes: The Case of Mari Boine". In Kraft, S.E.; Fonneland, T.; Lewis, J.R. (eds.). Nordic Neoshamanisms. New York, New York: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 235–262. doi:10.1057/9781137461407_13. ISBN 978-1-137-46140-7. Retrieved 19 February 2021.
  14. ^ Aubinet, Stéphane (2020). The Craft of Yoiking: Philosophical Variations on Sámi Chants (PhD). Oslo, Norway: University of Oslo. pp. 272–274. hdl:10852/77489.
  15. ^ Booklet accompanying CD, Gula Gula, Mari Boine Persen, Real World Records (CDRW13), 1990.
  16. ^ "Mari Boine on tour in North America". The Norwegian American. Seattle, Washington. 6 September 2019. Retrieved 19 February 2021.
  17. ^ Lipp, Marty (2002). "RootsWorld Recording Review". Retrieved 11 November 2011.
  18. ^ Salmon, Chris (20 May 2010). "The Guardian: Playlist". Retrieved 11 November 2011.
  19. ^ a b Loftus, Johnny. "Review". AllMusic. Retrieved 24 January 2012.
  20. ^ Hætta, Wenche Marie (29 March 2007). "Hvem-Hva-Når om Sámi Grand Prix" (in Norwegian). NRK. Retrieved 2 August 2021.
  21. ^ Skancke-Knutsen, Arvid (28 March 2011). "Mari Boine jubilerer" (in Norwegian Bokmål). Retrieved 7 August 2021.
  22. ^ "Utnevnelse til St. Olavs Orden". (in Norwegian).
  23. ^ Nordseth, Pål (7 October 2012). "Hadia overrasket med statsstipend på døra Nå får Mari Boine 416 000 statlige kroner i året til hun blir pensjonist". (in Norwegian). Retrieved 23 February 2013.

External links[edit]