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Monica Zetterlund
Background information
Birth nameEva Monica Nilsson
Born(1937-09-20)20 September 1937
Hagfors, Sweden
Died12 May 2005(2005-05-12) (aged 67)
Stockholm, Sweden
GenresVocal jazz
Occupation(s)Singer, actress
Years active1958–1999

Monica Zetterlund (born Eva Monica Nilsson; 20 September 1937 – 12 May 2005) was a Swedish jazz singer and actress.[1] Through her lifetime, she starred in over 10 Swedish film productions and recorded over 20 studio albums. She gained international fame through her collaborative album with Bill Evans, Waltz for Debby.



Zetterlund began by learning the classic jazz songs from radio and records, initially not knowing the language and what they sang about in English. Her hit songs included "Sakta vi gå genom stan" (Swedish cover of "Walking My Baby Back Home"; in Swedish a tribute to Stockholm town), "Visa från Utanmyra", "Sista jäntan", "Trubbel", "Gröna små äpplen" ("Little Green Apples"), "Monicas vals" ("Waltz for Debby"), "Stick iväg, Jack!" ("Hit the Road Jack"), "Att angöra en brygga", "Var blev ni av", "Måne över Stureplan" (cover of Sting's "Moon Over Bourbon Street") and "Under vinrankan!", among many others.

She also interpreted the works of such Swedish singer-songwriters as Evert Taube, Olle Adolphson and Povel Ramel, as well as international jazz musicians/songwriters. She worked with leading American players including Louis Armstrong, Bill Evans, Stan Getz, Steve Kuhn and Quincy Jones, and in the Scandinavian jazz world with people like Georg Riedel, Egil Johansen, Arne Domnérus, Svend Asmussen and Jan Johansson.[2]

Zetterlund and Hagge Geigert in 1967

In 1964, she recorded the jazz album Waltz for Debby, featuring Bill Evans, a record she herself described as "the best I've done"[citation needed] and was the most proud of. Her professional skill was amply demonstrated in this album in performing the challenging Harold Arlen song, "So Long, Big Time".

Her long career also included the song "En gång i Stockholm" ("Once Upon a Time in Stockholm"); a jazz ballad with which she represented Sweden in the 1963 Eurovision Song Contest. She finished last, however (mainly because the song genre was not suitable for the competition)[citation needed] and scored nul points, but remained successful in Sweden.


Her collaboration with the comic duo Hasse & Tage (in the 1960s and 1970s) eventually led to a stage career in revues and films. Memorable are her parts in the films Att angöra en brygga and Äppelkriget, with her most memorable role being in Jan Troell's Utvandrarna (aka The Emigrants; with Liv Ullmann and Max von Sydow in the leads) as Ulrika, a former prostitute who together with her teenage daughter Elin (portrayed by Zetterlund's daughter, Eva Lena Zetterlund) join the main characters in their emigration to America in the 1850s, a role for which Zetterlund received a Guldbagge Award for Best Supporting Actress.[3] She appeared in more than 20 films and television series.[2]


Zetterlund was awarded the Illis quorum by the government of Sweden in 2002.[4]

Health and death

She suffered from severe scoliosis which began after a childhood accident, and as a result was forced to retire from performing in 1999.[citation needed]

On 12 May 2005, she died following an accidental fire in her apartment in Stockholm, probably due to her habit of smoking in bed.[5][6]



Notable songs



  1. ^ Bergh, Johs (2020-12-07), "Monica Zetterlund", Store norske leksikon (in Norwegian Bokmål), retrieved 2021-05-02
  2. ^ a b "Monica Zetterlund, 67, Singer and Actress, Dies". The New York Times. 14 May 2005.
  3. ^ "Äppelkriget (1971)". Swedish Film Institute. 2 March 2014.
  4. ^ "Regeringens belöningsmedaljer och regeringens utmärkelse: Professors namn". Regeringskansliet (in Swedish). January 2006. Archived from the original on 2021-11-02. Retrieved 2022-05-18.
  5. ^ "Sångerskan Monica Zetterlund död".
  6. ^ "Monica Zetterlund dog isolerad i sitt hem".

Further reading