The winner of Melodi Grand Prix 1980 and Norwegian Eurovision representative Mattis Hætta passed away at the age of 63, as a result of a disease. Mattis became a star in Norway overnight, after winning Melodi Grand Prix alongside Sverre Kjelsberg (†2016) with the song “Sámiid Ædnan”. He was remembered for being the first singer in Eurovision history to represent Sámi culture and their traditional music form of joiking. At the Eurovision Song Contest 1980 in The Hague, the duo ended up in 16th place.
Mattis was active in the protest for Sámi rights and was among the demonstrators for the Alta cause, a political conflict where Sámi people went against the building of a dam in Inner Finnmark. The protest resulted in a hunger strike and marks a significant point in Sámi history, as it led to the establishment of the Sámi parliament. Sámiid Ædnan was created in connection with this case and is dedicated to all Sámi people, who suffered discrimination as an ethnic minority.
Per Sundnes, the former program leader of Melodi Grand Prix explained the impact of Mattis’ story:
Mattis was an outcast in the MGP context and suddenly left the Sámi in Norway. Unique in relation to setting a political agenda. Sámiid Ædnan was a breath of fresh air in a solid program. Joik has greater power than gunpowder!
We are very sad to see another Eurovision star leaving this world and we would like to express our love and condolences to Mattis’ family and friends!