About the artist(s)
Swedish-born Eva Marta Camilla Griehsel Vearncombe won a place in the prestigious Adolf Frederik Musik School in Stockholm at the age of ten. Her late teens saw her singing in a Baptist church choir in Virginia, USA, busking in a Sweet Adeline group in Stockholm’s Old Town, and entertaining holidaymakers in Gran Canaria and skiers in Switzerland. Camilla was in chart-topping Norwegian pop group ‘One 2 Many’ in her early twenties, but became disillusioned with the pop music business. She left the band to further her vocal education by working with voice coaches from the opera world, including a spell at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
Highlights from Camilla’s conversation with The Enormity of Now are below.
Who are you and what do you do?
I’m Camilla Grieshel. I’m 55 years old, I have three children. I’ve lived in Ireland for 18 years and I love it. I’m a widow – that’s been quite formative in the last five years. I’m a mother, grandmother, and then I’m a singer. When I’m with my grandchildren, the whole world disappears, it’s just them.
I would say that I’ve been a singer since…forever. At the age of five was the first time I remember singing in front of people and that having an effect on them. It made me happy and made them happy. Since then, I’ve been a singer in some shape or form. I know I feel well when I sing. I hope it makes others feel well, too. It’s a great connector.
How did you get here?
It feels like I’ve been through many different lives. I’ve traveled with my voice all around the place, having met loads of different people everywhere.
I had a time where I felt very sure of my voice, from an early age. But then I came to London and did a stint as a pop star, and lost a lot of confidence as a singer. Sounds very dramatic, but I felt like I’d sold my soul as well. I wasn’t singing what I liked and I wasn’t heard the way I wanted to be. So I stopped doing that and started to commit to training my voice. Again, I was very lost. I couldn’t find my own voice with the teachers I was working with. I found it difficult to sing high, and the battle with it went on for a while.
I was, on the sly, singing with my husband. I was told not to tell people I was singing pop at the same time. I enjoyed it but didn’t inhabit it. I started singing then here, in the place where I felt comfortable and it was here (Ireland) that I decided to do my Masters when I was 49. That’s when I could finally give myself time to think my thoughts to the end. I had a teacher who helped me find my voice and I finally felt grown up enough to take myself on. A new environment, very liberating.
How has the journey of your art/career engaged your voice – personally, artistically, politically?
My voice has always helped me through difficult times. I’ve sung at funerals in the knowledge that I can facilitate something for other people. Artistically, my voice is coming into its own more and more. I’m singing from a different place. I only ever sing things now that I adore.
Not so much politically, but more spiritually, I have felt the power of the human voice. I’ve seen grown men cry because of it. There’s a veil that disappears. The voice opens up a huge motorway into their hearts. It’s so, so important. The human voice can create so much more harmony in the world.
What is the voice that you found while finding your voice?
It’s my voice, it’s my essence. The voice that I have found now… I can put it out there without any shame.
Swedish born Eva Marta Camilla Griehsel Vearncombe won a place in the prestigious Adolf Frederik Musik School in Stockholm at the age of ten. Her late teens saw her singing in a Baptist church choir in Virginia, USA, busking in a Sweet Adeline group in Stockholm’s Old Town, and entertaining holiday makers in Gran Canaria and skiers in Switzerland.
Camilla was in chart-topping Norwegian pop group ‘One 2 Many’ in her early twenties, but became disillusioned with the pop music business. She left the band to further her vocal education by working with voice coaches from the opera world, including a spell at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. She has performed in a variety of soprano roles including Pamina, Countess Almaviva, Donna Elvira with Opera Box and Almaviva Opera. She also originated the leading role of Leah in The Dybbuk, the first ever opera in Yiddish, which was performed in Tel Aviv by Opera Nodedet.
In 2003 she went to Lima, Peru to record an album, ‘Rum and Chocolate’ with legendary percussionist Julio ‘Chocolaté’ Algendones and guitarist Andres Prado. Following the release of the album, Camilla who was by now a mother of three and living with her professional musician husband, Colin Vearncombe (pka Black), moved the family from London to West Cork.
In 2013 Camilla performed the lead in Astor Piazzola’s Maria de Buenos Aires opera, at Cork Opera House. 2018 saw the launch of Mamasongue, Camilla’s two-hour stage show featuring songs from across the world. To date, the show has been performed at the Everyman, Cork and the Tallacht Civic Theatre, Dublin as part of the Mother Tongues festival in 2020. Also, in that year, she sang the role of Antigone in Roger Doyle’s electronic opera iGirl with libretto by Marina Carr.