Meet Måns Zelmerlöw – Sweden’s Eurovision winner
My parents always encouraged me to sing and play guitar, long before I started taking music seriously. As a kid, I wanted to be an athlete, but wasn’t good enough to make it to the top.
I chose a high school program with a focus on natural science and music. My parents are both academics and wanted me to keep my options open at that young age, knowing that show business would be tough to get into.
My father was a doctor on a ship and always traveling. I spent my holidays going to exotic places like Africa and Asia. It sparked a love of traveling in me, but it also made me want to help people in developing countries.
I run a charity together with the former tennis pro Jonas Björkman to raise funds for schools in Africa. We now sponsor three schools in South Africa and one in Kenya, and we’re building another in Ethiopia.
When I left the show Allsång på Skansen to go and hang out in Barcelona, focus on my own music and write an album, everyone told me I was crazy. I didn’t even have a record deal at the time, and I was back to square one as an artist, but I knew I was doing the right thing – even though Barcelona Sessions didn’t do as well as I’d hoped.
The Z&B Foundation works with the non-profit school program Star for Life to educate children about HIV prevention. Our goal is to strengthen their self-esteem and help them realize their dreams. In 2014, we raised more than SEK1.5 million.
Every year, I go on a song-writing trip to Africa, and the music I write there tends to have a slightly different feel.
I wrote one album in Barcelona, hence the name Barcelona Sessions. I first fell in love with the city when I ended up there by accident in 2010.
The Icelandic ash cloud stopped me from going to see the US Open in 2010, so my friends and I hopped on a plane to Barcelona and watched a football match instead.
After that first trip, I was hooked. I went back the following year and in 2013, I bought an apartment there.
This is Måns Zelmerlöw
Born: 1986 in Lund, Sweden
Career to date: Entered the 2005 edition of Swedish Idol. In 2006, he won another reality TV show, Let’s Dance. Since then, Zelmerlöw has co-hosted Melodifestivalen (in 2010), competed in Melodifestivalen (2007, 2009 and 2015) and presented Allsång på Skansen (2011–2013), among other things. In 2015, he won the Eurovision Song Contest with his song “Heroes”.
I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life after high school and I only went to the audition for Swedish Idol in 2005 because a friend of mine said he’d pay me SEK100 if I went. I was selected and went on to finish fifth.
I love Barcelona’s rhythm of life. The fact that you can go out for an amazing meal at midnight and just sit and talk until 3am.
It’s been a rocky road since then, with lots of ups and downs. But now, having won Melodifestivalen and the Eurovision Song Contest and gone on my very own European tour, I’m absolutely certain I made the right decision.
All I can say is that I’m proud of myself for having dared to risk it.
I knew I didn’t want to wake up one day at the age of 50 and regret never having tried.
My objectives for the future are to establish myself as a European artist. The best concert I’ve ever been to was Robbie Williams at Ullevi in 2006.
My dream is to one day to have stage presence like Williams – then I’ll be complete as a performer.
Text: Isabelle Kliger
Published: February 10, 2016