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Swedish composer, artist and actress. Born as Gurli Maria Bergström in Sundsvall. Died in Stockholm.-Kai Gullmar was not only famous for her "Little Melody" (i.e. the song "Jag har en liten melodi"), but also for her other earrings that can be heard in a long series of film comedies from the 1940s and 1950s. Her music features in more than 40 films. It was Gullmar who wrote the title song for 'Swing It' Teacher (Swing it, magistern!, Schamyl Bauman, 1940), the film that launched the artist Alice Babs and swing music for a wide audience in Sweden. The...

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Biography

Swedish composer, artist and actress. Born as Gurli Maria Bergström in Sundsvall. Died in Stockholm.

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Kai Gullmar was not only famous for her "Little Melody" (i.e. the song "Jag har en liten melodi"), but also for her other earrings that can be heard in a long series of film comedies from the 1940s and 1950s. Her music features in more than 40 films. It was Gullmar who wrote the title song for 'Swing It' Teacher (Swing it, magistern!, Schamyl Bauman, 1940), the film that launched the artist Alice Babs and swing music for a wide audience in Sweden. The same film also features the melancholy "Regntunga skyar" ('Rain-heavy Skies'), also a Gullmar composition, with lyrics by Hasse Ekman.

Gurli Maria Bergström came to Stockholm from Sundsvall via London, beginning her career as a revue artist in the late 1920s. Yet it was under her pseudonym that she became a popular composer of swing pieces, waltzes and sailor songs. Gullmar made her stage debut in 1929 in an Ernst Rolf revue. But after her parents forbade her from following this profession she took a job in the gramophone department of a piano shop where she would amuse herself by singing along to records by British dance bands, a sort of proto-karaoke that could be heard via a loudspeaker in the street. Nils Grevillius, head of the Royal Swedish Opera, was passing by one day and Gullmar was discovered, after which she signed a recording contract with HMV. Gradually she began to record her own compositions, and a new songwriter was born.

In the early 1940s Gullmar wrote songs that were launched in popular films such as Melodin från Gamla Stan ('The Melody from the Old Town,' Ragnar Frisk, 1939), With You in My Arms (Med dej i mina armar, Hasse Ekman, 1940), Fröken Kyrkråtta ('Miss Church Mouse,' Schamyl Bauman, 1941) with the Danish comedienne Marguerite Viby and, of course, 'Swing It' Teacher. Guss Morris (Gösta Wahlenius) frequently wrote the lyrics to these songs.

Many popular artists such as Sven-Olof Sandberg, Ulla Billquist, Karin Juel and Harry Brandelius had hits with her songs. Some of her tunes were rather difficult to sing, such as the popular "Vart tar alla vackra flickor vägen" ('Where Do All the Beautiful Girls Go?') which Karl Gerhard recorded so brilliantly. Another example is "Bussvisan" ('The Bus Song') which Inga Gill, Ulla-Britt and Solveig Svensson sing in Hasse Ekman's Sjunde himlen ('Seventh Heaven,' Hasse Ekman, 1956), a song which slows to a delightful ending.

Kai Gullmar also wrote original music for films without popular hits, such as the dramas Sonja (Erik "Hampe" Faustman, 1943) and Sjätte skottet ('The Sixth Shot,' Hasse Ekman, 1943). She could also be seen in minor roles in a handful of Åsa-Nisse films, and she played the mother of the famous boisterous family in Mrs. Andersson's Kalle (Anderssonskans Kalle, Rolf Husberg, 1950).

Mikaela Kindblom (2012)

(translated by Derek Jones)

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