The "American Idol" phenomenon has managed to stretch itself all over the world, even to Iceland. In its recently completed fourth season, the field of nearly 1,000 hopefuls narrowed down to one winner. But as past "American Idol" and "Pop Idol" (the United Kingdom version) competitions have proven, it’s not always the winner who achieves stardom.

The "American Idol" phenomenon has managed to stretch itself all over the world, even to Iceland. In its recently completed fourth season, the field of nearly 1,000 hopefuls narrowed down to one winner. But as past "American Idol" and "Pop Idol" (the United Kingdom version) competitions have proven, it’s not always the winner who achieves stardom.


Earlier this year, a stunning 19-year-old former model, Magga Edda, went in front of the Randy, Paula and Simon of "Idol Stjörnulei" ("Idol Starsearch") and wowed the three judges with her rendition of Carrie Underwood’s “Jesus Takes the Wheel.”


“My main goal was to face my fears,” Edda said. “I’m very stage-frightened, and the 'Idol' seemed like a good way to face my fears. It was nerve-racking and hard, but I learned a lot. It was a lot of fun.”


Edda said that of the several hundred people who auditioned, only 100 got through to the next round. She was one of them. Edda made it into the final 20, a few spots away from reaching the semifinal round. In the round of the final 100, she performed “Run” by Leona Lewis, and then in the round of the final 40, she sang “When You're Gone,” by Avril Lavigne.


“It was hard getting eliminated, but I know I don’t need 'Idol' to make it in the music industry,” Edda said. “The first minutes (after my elimination) were hard, but the next day I was OK.”


Edda, was born and still lives in Iceland’s capital, Reykjavík, in the residential suburb of Grafarholt. Her singing history dates back almost as long as she’s been alive.


“I have videos of me singing when I was 1 year old,” Edda said, noting that she’s the first singer in her family. “There are no musicians in my family, but my father is a comedian in Iceland.”


Edda and her father came to the U.S. twice, but not to sing, although she hopes to make it here one day to wow audiences with her pure vocal prowess.


“I’ve been to Boston and Baltimore once,” she said. “I went to Boston in 2000 with my father when I was 11. He was working there for two weeks. I loved the city. It was my first visit to America. I thought it was so funny – the last day (it) was snowing a lot and all schools were closed and people where told to stay inside because of a ‘storm,’ but we in Iceland are used to much worse weather. At the airport all flights where canceled accept the flight to Reykjavík.”


Edda visited Baltimore three years ago for taekwondo training. She’s trained since 2003 and won numerous competitions. She said she still trains once or twice a week. She’s also a former model, having competed in a Hawaiian Tropic event when she was 17. Edda’s list of hobbies doesn’t end there.


“I love to ice skate, rollerblade, watch movies, hang out with my friends, listen to good music, travel,” Edda said. “You can do lots of stuff in Iceland. You can go downtown and party. The clubs in Iceland close around 4 to 6 a.m. The weekends are crazy in Reykjavik. Icelanders party hard.”


Edda hopes to one day celebrate the release of a CD. She’s working with Andri Ramirez, a 24-year-old producer. A well-known and well-respected DJ, Ramirez spins at some of the hottest nightclubs in Iceland. Edda’s also working with Palli, a songwriter, who has made a name for himself in the Iceland music scene.


“I practice singing every day,” Edda said.


She recently finished recording a track she named “Sweet Luv,” the audio of which can be found on YouTube. The R&B-tinged song features elements of electronic music, but it’s the range in her voice that really stands out. Her voice recently gained the attention of Icelandic rapper Ástþór Óðinn. He asked her to sing on his single, “Mamma.”


“I have a MySpace page, which is www.myspace.com/maggaedda, and Ástþór contacted me through my site,” Edda said. “There where a lot of rappers that asked me to record with them, but most of the songs where about parties, drinking, drugs and stuff like that. When I heard the song “Mamma” and Ástþór told me about the lyrics and how his mom died of cancer when he was 14, I got so moved. It wasn’t one of these songs about partying and drinking. It had a real meaning, and that is what I like and I want to sing about, something that matters and about real emotions. Also Ástþór is such a good rapper and a passionate person. I loved working with him.”


Edda will travel in a few weeks to England for another collaboration.


“I’m going to London in October with a rapper called Káeffbé to record a song,” she said. “Ástþór lives there, and he’s gonna record it for us. That’s very exciting. My plans are to make a CD next year.”


Citing Iceland singers Björk and Emiliana Torrini as major influences, Edda said she wants to have the same global success the two have achieved over the years.


“My dream is to make it all over the world,” she said. “I want to have concerts and (sell) many, many CDs. I want to work with famous musicians. I want to be famous. I have performed many times, but I have never sang my own music. Hopefully that will change.”


Want more Madda? Check out her at www.myspace.com/maggaedda or visit her YouTube page and check out her songs and videos.


Ryan Wood has contributed to Noize Makes Enemies, The Sun (London), The Sunday Sun (Northeast England), The Watford Observer, The Weekly Dig, and The Noise. Send him an e-mail at rwood76@gmail.com.