Bjork Gudmundsdottir, born 21 November 1965 is an Icelandic singer, songwriter, composer, record producer, and actress. Noted for her distinct three-octave vocal range and eccentric persona, she has developed an eclectic musical style over her four-decade career that has drawn on electronic, pop, experimental, trip hop, classical, and avant-garde music.
Born and raised in Reykjavik, Bjork began her music career at the age of 11 and gained international recognition as the lead singer of the alternative rock band the Sugarcubes, by the age of 21. After the band’s breakup in 1992, Bjork embarked on a solo career, coming to prominence with albums such as Debut (1993), Post (1995), and Homogenic (1997), while collaborating with a range of artists and exploring a variety of multimedia projects. Her other albums include Vespertine (2001), Medúlla (2004), Volta (2007), Biophilia (2011), Vulnicura (2015), Utopia (2017) and Fossora (2022).
Several of Bjork’s albums have reached the top 20 on the US Billboard 200 chart. As of 2015, she had sold millions of records worldwide. Thirty one of her singles have reached the top 40 on pop charts around the world, with 22 top 40 hits in the UK, including the top-10 singles “It’s Oh So Quiet”, “Army of Me”, and “Hyperballad” and the top-20 singles “Play Dead”, “Big Time Sensuality”, and “Violently Happy”. Her accolades and awards include the Order of the Falcon, five BRIT Awards, and 15 Grammy nominations. In 2015, Time named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world. Rolling Stone named her the 60th greatest singer and the 81st greatest songwriter.
Bjork starred in the 2000 Lars von Trier film Dancer in the Dark, for which she won the Best Actress Award at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival, and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song for “I’ve Seen It All”. Biophilia was marketed as an interactive app album with its own education program. Bjork has also been an advocate for environmental causes in Iceland. A retrospective exhibition dedicated to Björk was held at the New York Museum of Modern Art in 2015.
Following her short-lived marriage to Thór Eldon, Björk was romantically involved with several other members of the music industry, including U.K. artists Goldie and Tricky (of Massive Attack). Then, in 2000, she met Matthew Barney—the artist responsible for the Cremaster project—in New York while promoting Dancer in the Dark. The two soon began dating and remain together today. The couple had a child, daughter Isadora Bjarkardottir Barney, on October 3, 2002, and later worked together on the film Drawing Restraint 9 (2005). They reside in New York City.
Famed singer-songwriter and actress Björk was born Björk Guðmundsdóttir on November 21, 1965, in Reykjavik, Iceland. Having grown up in a highly musical household, Björk released her first album, a compilation of traditional Icelandic folk songs, when she was only 11 years old.
Throughout her teen years, Bjork sang with a series of anarchist punk bands, among them KUKL, with other members including Einar Orn, Siggi Baldursson and Einar Melax. With several of her fellow KUKL bandmates, in 1986, Björk formed the pop group the Sugarcubes, joined by Magga Ornolfsdottir, Bragi Olafsson and guitarist Thor Eldon. That same year, Bjork and Eldon married and (on June 8, 1986) welcomed their first child, son Síndri Eldon Thorsson. The couple divorced in 1987.
The Sugarcubes released their full-length debut, Life’s Too Good, in 1988, winning a cult following in both the United States and United Kingdom. The group’s final album, 1992’s It’s It, was a collection of dance remixes of earlier material a result of Björk’s fascination with the genre.
Successful Solo Career
In 1993, Bjork released her first solo album as an adult, aptly named Debut, which featured two Top 20 singles, Human Behaviour and Big Time Sensuality, and sold nearly 3 million copies worldwide. After relocating to London, England, Bjork released 1995’s Post, which outsold her first album thanks to innovative collaborations with techno gurus Graham Massey, Howie B and Tricky.
Bjork garnered further acclaim in early 2001, when she and von Trier were nominated for an Academy Award (best song) for “I’ve Seen It All.” She made fashion history when she wore her infamous “swan dress” while performing the song at the Academy Awards that same year. It was also in 2001 that Björk released her first album in four years, Vespertine.
Bjork went on to build her career as a solo artist with the release of Medúlla (2004), Volta (2007) and Biophilia (2011), each album including its own unique aesthetic and message. In 2004, Björk performed “Oceania,” a single from Medúlla, at the Summer Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. At the 55th Annual Grammy Awards in 2013, Biophilia—featuring songs like “Moon,” “Dark Matter” and “Hollow”—took home the award for best recording package, also receiving a nomination for best alternative album.
Around this same time, Björk was added to the lineup of the 2013 Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, Tennessee, alongside the likes of d Billy Idol.
In 2000, the diminutive Icelandic pop star appeared on the big screen, in the critically acclaimed film Dancer in the Dark by Danish director Lars von Trier. Though it was rumored that tension had grown between the director and his star, who also scored the film, Björk went on to win the prize for best actress at the Cannes Film Festival and a Golden Globe nomination (best actress) for her performance.