Mette Kathrine Jensen Stærk was born on the 9th of February 1980
Both of my parents were folk dancers and active in numerous dance organizations so dancing and singing was a part of daily life. And when things like dancing and singing were common as they were for me you do not question them – but still… I tried out children’s folk dancing and piano playing without great successful interest, but as an 11 – 12 year old I was to choose between doing the dishes or playing the accordion. Pretty soon I made friends with some other kids and youngsters and after that I was hooked. I knew I was going to make a living from the music, so as a teenager I was the palest girl in high school because I sat inside for hours all year round playing with either my dad and the neighbor Jens Arne or a folk music cassette tape.
In 1998 the folk music department opened at the Carl Nielsen Academy of Music in Odense and in 2001 after a year of preparation course in Holstebro I was accepted into the Academy. There was only 3 other students in my class: a Russian singer, an Australian fiddler and the boy from the school bus!!! Every morning for 10 years I stood next to Kristian Bugge at the bus stop without talking. And now we were in the same class and had the same interest in Danish traditional music. Then the duo Jensen & Bugge was formed. At the academy I took accordion classes with Carl Erik Lundgaard, Lilian Vammen and Swedish Lars Holm. But studying folk music is as much a study in life as well so the lessons some times lasted for days with talks, dance, music and gigs in the whole country.
Kristian and I traveled around in Jutland and visited Karl Skaarup from Thy and Peter Uhrbrand from Fanø among others. To meet the person and see some of the connections between people, nature and music was so fascinating that I applied for an extra year at the academy just to visit musicians from Thy to Christiania. It resulted in meeting 80 different musicians in their homes.
A couple of months before the final exam at the academy I talked to an old friend, Charlotte that I knew from my childhood music school. She asked me about my own compositions. Hmmm there were quite many compositions but I kept them in the drawer. Charlotte told me to pull them out and give them life, so we decided to ask Charlotte’s sister Louise if we should make a trio for my exam and play some of my songs. After the exam we agreed that this was something special. That was in 2007 and Zenobia has played many concerts since then and we still have great fun.
Jensen & Bugge has been been touring all over the world. Actually I recently counted that I have played in 30 different countries. But the biggest fairytale started in 2008 in USA when Kristian and I met Dwight Lamb whose forebear was an old fiddler, Kræn Jerup from Vendsyssel. A complete Vensyssel-repertoire was studied – and USA and Denmark were toured to the bone. Dwight is a true treasure chest of music and tradition. His family melodies were forgotten in Denmark, but as Dwight says, his family has kept the melodies alive for over 100 years, so now it is good that Jensen & Bugge brings them back and re-teaches the Danish folk musicians a unique repertoire.
I have now for quite a few years lived as a freelance folk musician and my latest addition is narratives. Folk music and narratives work hand in glove – if I am playing a concert, there are a lot of narratives surrounding the melodies – and if I am out speaking there are a lot of melodies surrounding the words.
My story is not over yet at all, but if you want to hear more about the music director Borcher Madsen, Hardy, the son of state fiddler Evald Thomsen, the Fifa World Cup in South Korea, the difference about the waltz from Western Jutland and ballroom waltz, the folk school songbook and my new compositions in the same tradition, then come to a concert, a ball or a talk – or send an e-mail 🙂