Finishing fifth in Belgrade has had consequences for Maria Haukaas Storeng. Her entry Hold On, Be Strong became a hit in several countries and she has been busy ever since. For this year’s Eurovision Song Contest season she has been the host of the Norsk Melodi Grand Prix together with Per Sundnes. But she will also take part of the Swedish counterpart Melodifestivalen.
Now that the Norwegian contest is decided and Alexander Rybak is packing for Moscow with his Fairytale, Maria goes to Malmö in the south of Sweden to compete herself. Her entry Killing Me Tenderly is a duet performed with Anna Sahlene. Swedish Sahlene, also a former participant in Europe's favorite TV-show, finished third with Runaway back in 2002 in Talinn – singing for Estonia.
To be an artist and host in the same year has been a challenge for Maria, but she doesn't regret taking it on. “You get to see all the sides of this, I like it. I also get a better insight in the whole thing for the future, when I will watch it as a bystander”, Maria says to Eurovision.tv.
The mission for Norsk Melodi Grand Prix was the very first time for Maria as a TV host. She found the change from working as an artist considerable. “It’s not just to switch over. But I’ve learned acting since I was a kid, and as a host I’ve tried to pick up all that I’ve learnt and seen,” Maria says. “Plus that I’ve tried to perform as natural as possible, so that people see that it’s a person standing there.”
Which part of the job has been your favourite?
“Everything, really. But it’s been really good to be in the green room asking questions. I’ve usually been the one answering the questions, so it’s been the other way round!"
More popular than ever
Maria feels that the musical standards have been improving for each year in the Norwegian contest. As in Sweden, the organizers have worked to make way for artists from different genres. This have contributed to the positive development, in Maria’s view. This year the interest in Norway has been higher than ever.
Would you consider being a host for Eurovision Song Contest as well, if Norway wins?
“Oh! I would be so nervous, so I would have to think about it carefully. I think that you need someone with a heavy experience of the part.”
Maria is open to compete again in Norway, however, as well as in other countries, if the time is right. “We’ll see,” she says, smiling.