Frida is a Scandinavian vocalist best known as a member of the massively successful Swedish pop outfit ABBA. With her warm mezzo-soprano vocal range and striking auburn hair, Frida often worked in beautiful counterpoint to her blonde soprano ABBA bandmate Agnetha Faltskog. Though she began her career as a traditional folk-inflected singer in the 1960s, by the 1980s she had matured into a sophisticated and environmentally conscious pop icon. Though she has kept a discreet public profile since the late '90s, with her legendary status as a member of ABBA firmly intact, Frida remains an influential presence on the international music scene.
Born Anni-Frid Synni Lyngstad in Bjørkåsen, Ballangen, Norway in 1945, "Frida," as she was known, was the daughter of a German soldier father and Norwegian civilian mother. Fearing retribution by Norwegian locals for her father's association with the German army during WWII, Lyngstad's grandmother took her to Sweden, where she would remain for the rest of her childhood. Although Lyngstad's mother eventually reunited with her daughter in Sweden, she died at age 21 from kidney failure, leaving young Frida in the care of her grandmother.
Growing up, Frida gained a love of singing from her grandmother, who purportedly sang traditional Norwegian folk songs to her. By her teens, Lyngstad was performing regularly, dancing and singing popular American standards and "schlager" tunes with the Evald Eks Orchestra. It was also around this time that she began taking vocal lessons and in 1963 she formed her first band, the Anni-Frid Four.
In 1967, Frida won the Swedish national talent competition, an accolade that garnered her a recording contract with EMI Sweden and a widely viewed spot singing on the television show Hylands Hörna. She then toured and recorded several singles before releasing her full-length debut album, 1971's Frida. Featuring production from her then fiancé (and future ABBA bandmate) Benny Andersson, the album sold well and earned Frida her first number one hit with "Min Egen Stad" (My Own Town), a song that also happened to feature backup singing by all three of the other future ABBA members: Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus, and Ulvaeus' then wife, Agnetha Fältskog.
Although reluctant at first to form a group with her husband, Frida eventually joined Andersson, Ulvaeus, and Fältskog to form the group Festfolk. Somewhat ill-fated, the group failed to make an impact and Frida briefly returned to solo work. However, by 1972, she had rejoined the group, this time performing under the moniker ABBA, an acronym of the first letters of each member's first name. From 1972 to 1982, ABBA would become one of the most successful pop groups in history, scoring multiple chart-topping hits with songs like "Dancing Queen," "Mamma Mia," "Waterloo," "Super Trouper," and more, selling well over 300 million albums worldwide.
During her time with ABBA, Frida released her sophomore solo album with 1975's Frida Ensam (Frida Alone). Produced by Andersson, Frida Ensam featured a solo version of the ABBA song "Fernando," and sold well, staying on top of the Swedish album charts for six weeks. However, despite their musical partnership and ABBA's success, Frida and Andersson ultimately divorced in 1981, with ABBA disbanding the following year.
With ABBA set aside, Frida returned to her solo work, releasing the Phil Collins-produced Something's Going On in 1982. Showcasing a more rock-oriented approach than her work with ABBA, the album was also her first sung completely in English. The album performed well, with the Russ Ballard-composed title track, "I Know There's Something Going On," receiving heavy rotation on MTV and peaking at number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.
Beginning in the '90s, Lyngstad became increasingly interested in environmental issues, a passion that found her working with several environmental groups such as Det Naturliga Steget-Artister För Miljön" (the Natural Step-Artists for the Environment), and saw the release of her 1992 charity single cover of Julian Lennon's "Saltwater." It was while in this more serious mindset that she recorded her fifth studio album, 1996's Djupa Andetag. Produced by Anders Glenmark, the album also marked Frida's return to singing entirely in Swedish.
A third solo album was planned, but in the the wake of the tragic death of her daughter in a car accident in 1998, the album never materialized. Since that time, Frida has appeared on several one-off singles, including the Kirsty MacColl co-penned song "Chemistry Tonight," which she dedicated to her daughter in 2000. In 2002, she duetted with opera singer Filippa Giordano on Jacques Offenbach's "Barcarolle" for Giordano's album Il Rosso Amore. Two years later, Frida sang on "The Sun Will Shine Again," a track on former Deep Purple keyboardist Jon Lord's album Beyond the Notes. Though she has remained an elusive presence both on album and as a live performer, Frida still makes occasional public appearances along with other members of ABBA at various events. ~ Matt Collar