Jenny Berggren, lead singer of the internationally renowned Swedish pop group Ace of Base and now solo artist, looked into the face of success rather suddenly at the age of 19.
The group’s first two released songs ‘All That She Wants’ and ‘Wheel of Fortune’ coupled in the number one and number two spots on the Danish charts before a single publicity photo had ever been snapped of Ace of Base.
The band’s album The Sign skyrocketed to the top of worldwide music charts in the early nineties, selling over 21 million copies and making it the all-time most selling debut album ever—a title unsurpassed to this day. The album’s success even raked in more revenue for Sweden that year than the country’s signature auto company, Volvo.
“Meeting the top of the world in music is very challenging in a good way,” Jenny says.
The group, originally comprising of siblings Jenny, Linn, and Jonas Berggren and later their friend Ulf Ekberg, started their music from the basement of the Berggrens’ house in their hometown of Gothenburg, Sweden.
The shock of Ace of Base’s success was one that delighted their listeners worldwide, but also one that caught the young Swedes off guard. The rise to fame was swift and especially had an impact on Jenny. In April 1994, she was awakened in her parents’ home with a knife held to her throat by an intruder that wanted to meet the rest of the band.
The event was enough to stop Jenny and her family still that night, and yet there was no pause button for the sensation that Ace of Base had become.
Only one month after the attack, Jenny and her fellow band members hit number one on the Billboard charts both with their single, ‘The Sign,’ and with their album of the same title. The prestigious chart positions held for six consecutive weeks.
The band continued making music, and Jenny found a strength within her Christian faith to press forward. She wrote a song about the attack on the group’s following album, The Bridge, which was released a mere 18 months after the intruder woke Jenny in her parents’ home that fateful night.
Jenny and her fellow band members gave hundreds of performances through their concerts and promotions from 1992-2009, their largest audience being 55,000 in Tel Aviv.
Overall, Ace of Base released four albums plus a greatest hits record in less than a decade. Jenny, along with her fellow band members, stand out as four of very few Swedish artists to have earned two American Music Awards and two Billboard Awards. Ace of Base sold more than 30 million copies with their four totaled albums.
It was because of their record-breaking debut success that Jenny and her fellow band members have become a well-known musical icon of the nineties, though their albums went on into the early 2000s.
After the promotion of their last album, Da Capo, in 2002, they finally took a well-deserved break. During this period, Jenny married long-time boyfriend and classical pianist Jakob PetrÉn in 2004 and they had their first child in 2005.
A few months after Jenny’s son was born, she, Jonas and Ulf performed Ace of Base classics in the notable European summer concert series, Night of the Proms, in Antwerp, Belgium.
The following year, Jenny was invited to perform in a concert series with the Original ABBA Orchestra, performing many of the ABBA classics heard in Mamma Mia! the movie and Broadway play. (Ace of Base had frequently been compared to ABBA due to the fact that Jenny, brunette, and Linn, blond, served as co-lead singers alongside two male musicians.) The concerts took place only months after Jenny and Jakob’s second child, a daughter, was born.
Jenny’s performances of the ABBA songs ‘Fernando,’ ‘Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!,’ ‘Money, Money, Money,’ ‘I’m a Marionette,’ ‘Voulez Vous’ and ‘Summer Night City’ at this concert series turned many heads, as the ABBA classics showed off Jenny’s wide vocal range far more than most Ace of Base songs had to that point.
In Summer 2009, Jenny, Jonas and Ulf—again as a trio—held their Ace of Base Redefined world tour.
Now, Jenny has produced her first solo album entitled My Story, sidekicked by her autobiography, To Win the World. The book title is based off of the Bible verse Mathew 16:26, “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world yet forfeits his soul?” Jenny says both the book and the album depict her life experience as an international pop artist and how through her faith, she survived the trials that come along with stardom.
“Music is my first language, and it is in the music my friends in my fan base can recognize me,” Jenny says. “I want to reveal my story in both music and in words. I can’t think of a better way of doing it than using both ways, but in my own fashion. Here I am.”
Born the youngest of three children on May 19, 1972 in Sweden’s second largest city of Gothenburg, Jenny grew up in a Christian-based suburban home with her brother Jonas, sister Linn, father Göran, an x-ray technician, and mother Birgitta.
The Berggrens were a family that made the combination of faith and music their focus and pastime. Jenny recalls one of her earliest memories being her father playing the flute in their home. In her autobiography, To Win the World, Jenny’s first chapter describes her first experience (at four-years-old) on her family’s annual vacations to a church retreat.
Christianity and music remained a constant throughout Jenny’s childhood and adult life. Jenny and Linn were both part of their church choir and took lessons to play the violin. Jenny was chosen to play several parts in school plays as a young child, largely because of her vocal talents.
She was confirmed at 15, which proved to be a trying time as her family faced the potential loss of her mother to cancer. Birgitta survived, and Jenny’s confirmation experience through this ordeal left a deep impression on her about God’s purpose in her life.
Before Jenny took the world by storm in Ace of Base, she was studying to become a teacher. Her temporary jobs included working in restaurants and also as a croupier at a local casino.
Every summer since she was a teenager, Jenny served as a “confirmation mom,” or a counselor, to the teens going through confirmation camp at her church. This was a role that Jenny managed to continue every summer—even through the height of Ace of Base’s success—until she had children of her own.
Jenny continues to reside in her hometown of Gothenburg, Sweden with her family. Her husband, Jakob PetrÉn, is a well-known pianist and music director in Sweden. In recent years, he has participated in two operas, performing as lead pianist in Rigoletto and Forever Young. Jakob and Jenny have a son and daughter together.
Jenny has recently accepted a request to become an official ambassador for the Voi Project, a Swedish-based mission for an orphanage in Kenya for which Jenny has been advocating for several years.