2016 Norwegian Eurovision representative Agnete Johnsen has been bestowed with the Åpenhetspris, the Openness Prize, for her honesty concerning her mental health problems.
The Åpenhetspris is awarded by the Norwegian mental health organization Mental Helse. This year Agnete, who represented Norway at the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest in Stockholm with the song Icebreaker, won the prize for her openness about her struggle with depression.
Agnete has been suffering from depression and mental health issues for a while. After winning the Norwegian selection for Eurovision, Melodi Grand Prix 2016, the artist had a breakdown, forcing her to avoid all Eurovision events, press conferences and parties. In this difficult time, Agnete showed force by focusing solely on delivering a solid performance during Semi-Final 2 of the Eurovision Song Contest 2016.
Following the ESC, Agnete took the time to work on her recovery, avoiding public appearances. She was not able to receive the award in person at the ceremony in the National Theatre in Oslo, on Monday, October 10 2016. In a letter, Agnete showed her gratitude for receiving this special prize, and she also explained about her struggle:
I really wish I could be there to receive the Åpenhetspris. My thoughts had come completely out of control, I had to pull out of everything other than the music itself, and I had to ask for complete peace and quiet around me. It was a tough but necessary choice. It is still the same situation today.
Norway’s Mental Helse declared Agnete a worthy winner, celebrating her courage and openness, and her willingness to talk about her illness in this difficult time.
Agnete won an artwork and NOK 10.000 for charity, which she donated to the Vadsø Youth Center, an organization that helps the youth in Finnmark, Agnete’s birth region.
Agnete Kristin Johnsen (Varangerbotn, Nesseby, 1994), also known as Aggie, is a Norwegian singer-songwriter. She is an ethnic Sami, and the daughter of children’s author Signe Iversen. Agnete started as the lead singer of teen punk band The BlackSheeps.
In 2008, The BlackSheeps won Melodi Grand Prix Junior in Norway, and went on to win the overall Scandinavian Melodi Grand Prix Nordic 2008, both with the song Oro jeska, beana (Be quiet, dog). The song reached number one on the Norwegian singles chart and won Song of the Year at the Spellemannprisen, the Norwegian music awards.
In 2011 The BlackSheeps competed in the selection for Eurovision, Melodi Grand Prix 2011, where they placed second with the song Dance tonight.
After the band split up, Agnete competed in the music competition Stjernekamp, placing second, and performed the interval act at Melodi Grand Prix Junior 2013. In 2014 the singer won the show Skal Vi Danse? (Shall We Dance?), the Norwegian version of Dancing with the Stars.
While participating in the TV-show 71 Grader Nord in 2015, Agnete had to withdraw due to depression and mental health problems, about which she spoke candidly.
In 2016 Agnete won Melodi Grand Prix and represented Norway at Eurovision 2016 in Stockholm, Sweden. She performed her song Icebreaker in Semi-Final 2, but unfortunately did not go through to the Grand Final, reaching the 13th place out of 18 contestants, with 63 points.
Agnete is working on her debut album, to be titled NATURE.
Please enjoy Agnete performing Icebreaker during Semi-Final 2 of Eurovision 2016: