Gershwin’s “Summertime” (in Norway)

Angelina Jordan Astar’s first public rendition of Gershwin’s song, when she was eight years old, won Norway’s talent contest. She has sung it often, usually wearing those customary flower garlands in her hair. That must be a Norwegian thing, given how short the season is there.

This version is from 2014. There are other, later ones, but this has the best of all the various elements required to pull this off, Norwegian-style. Just look at the wonderful light. Besides, it’s the most jazz-like rendition I could find. [I started it at 30 seconds in, to leave out the Norwegian bumpf. I’m sure the announcer is very nice, but my Norwegian is non-existent.]

Angelina Jordan captures Gershwin well, especially considering her age; by the time she’s an adult she’ll have all the complexity and nuance this song from Porgy and Bess requires. Or maybe she’ll be sick of it by then.

“Porgy and Bess” remains a perennial favorite, but it must be difficult to perform now, give the hollow “Black Lives Matter” screeching.

14 thoughts on “Gershwin’s “Summertime” (in Norway)

  1. Sensational! Thank you. Readers may wish to acquire on a Sony cd a 1946 recording of a symphonic suite of Porgy conducted by the great classical conductor Fritz Reiner leading the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Good mono sound. One of the greatest recordings of anything you will ever hear. I don’t recall the name of the two-cd set but it’s a compilation of original Gershwin recordings, including some by the composer at the piano, going back to Al Jolson singing Swanee about 1920.

    • Thanks. I’ll look on ebay.

      I didn’t know Gershwin wrote “Suwanee” – the river isn’t far from where I grew up and I visited it many times. It seems too ‘folksy’ for Gershwin, whom I think of as an urban composer. I also didn’t know it was that ‘new’ as it seems to be in the same vein as a lot of post-Civil War ditties.

      Wiki’s info is interesting – e.g., while I knew the Suwanee came south out of Georgia and traversed the Panhandle before eventually dumping into the Gulf of Mexico, I didn’t know its headwaters were in the Okefenokee Swamp.

    • I occasionally post videos of this girl, who won a singing contest in Norway when she was eight…

      At the age of seven, she won her place in the audition by singing Billie Holiday’s “Gloomy Sunday” for the judges.

      I’m so glad she grew into her teeth.

      [Couldn’t find the earlier acapella version]

  2. Å, det er sommer, og lving er lett; fisk hopper, og bomullen er høy …

    [Machine translation:

    “Oh, it’s summer, and lving is easy; fish jumps and the cotton is high …”

    Please provide translations with foreign-language quotes. — BB]

    • Kepha, *who* sings Gershwin in anything but English??

      It wouldn’t make sense to portray a black couple from Charleston singing this in anything but English. I would imagine as this girl gets older her ear for idiomatic English will get even better.

  3. Pity Norwegian children aren’t interested in singing their own music in their own language. They’re too far gone now, I guess.

    Does she cover Beyonce or Miley Cyrus tunes?

    • She loves old standards, for which she acquired a taste when she was two by asking to see them on You Tube…

      But her tastes are eclectic and she has covered many, many old tunes. Her voice has been compared to Ella Fitzgerald’s:

      A Cole Porter tune, pefectly done by a ten year-old. There are 1,400,000+ views. (A sizeable number of which are mine.)

      Have you even listened to her, or is this just a “the-world-is-ugly-and-the-people-are-bad” comment?


      • Sheesh, she is gloomy in Billy Holliday song.
        Weird girl.Deep scratchy voice .
        And how dare we to have a different opinion

    • Besides, jazz and Elvis are internationally played and sung by many in the West. Norwegian songs? Not so much.

      This singer is of Iranian and Norwegian parentage (at least I think her last name is Norwegian). Perhaps she should stick to Persian/Norwegian ditties?? There must be one song somewhere.

  4. My comments reflect strictly my own perspective.

    For me, the performance would be much enhanced by just listening and not looking at the video. Her appearance just doesn’t evoke the milieu of the song.

    Mozart wrote his first concerto at the age of 3. Music talent is genetic. You have it or you don’t. Like intelligence and character. I don’t, by the way.

    As far as Black Lives Matter, simply tell them that Gershwin was black, and they’ll leave you alone, not having enough knowledge to contradict your assertion.

  5. I think seeing this very charming young girl enhances enjoyment of her heavenly performance . By the way I think the cd set I mentioned above is entitled In Gershwin ‘s Time. Listening to vy early recordings of his piano concerto and more it is interesting how the performances were jazzier and faster than current practice.

    • I’ve noticed a speedier tempo in many early jazz recordings. “Jazzier”? Do you mean more horns? More complexity? More syncopated?

      Thanks for the title. I couldn’t find it on ebay. Will look again.

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