The brightest star of the Finnish rock scene, the soprano singer Tarja Turunen has in a short time become one of the most well-known Finnish faces in the world of music.
Turunen, who was born in the city of Kitee, Finland, started her musical studies at the age of six, and moved to study classical singing at the age 18 at the Sibelius Academy of Kuopio city.
At the same time Tarja’s classmate Tuomas Holopainen was starting his acoustical project, and invited Turunen to join the band. Tarja said yes to the invitation, and thus Nightwish was born.
The band’s first demo-tape was enough to get them a recording deal with Spinefarm Records. Shortly after signing the band in 1997 Spinefarm released their debut album “Angels Fall First”, a masterpiece mixing modern metal music with operatic, classical vocals.
At the time, Tarja was joining the Savonlinna Opera Festival Choir where she performed Wagner and Verdi among others. It was the beginning as well for Tarja Turunen to establish a career that compromises two different kind of music and a long way to go until the audience in general has accepted this fact.
The debut was followed in 1998 by Nightwish’s breakthrough album, the platinum selling “Oceanborn”, which contained such hit songs as “Sleeping Sun” and a cover version of the main theme of the “Snowman”-animation, “Walking in the Air”.
“Oceanborn” took the band to the stage in Finland and abroad, and Tarja’s unbelievable stage charisma instantly made her the number one singer favourite of metal fans all over the world.
Tarja’s face has been illustrating magazines from all over the world. Just to mention some of them we need to come with an amazing list from several countries like Norway, Germany, Spain, Brazil, France, Sweden, Belgium, Netherlands, Finland and Argentina. Scream Magazine, Roadie crew, Inferno, Rumba, Sue, Metallian, Blue wings (Finnair), Iltalehti (novedadespaper), Metal Hammer, Rock Hard, Metal Heart, Aardschok, Epopeya, Rock Brigade, Heavy Oder Was!?, Hell Awaits, Flash, Legacy Magazine, Orkus, Rock Tribune, Close Up Magazine, Hard N’Heavy, Maelmströn.
In many of these publications, Tarja has been several times recognised among the best singers and specially in her home country, Soundi Magazine’s reader’s poll elected Tarja in 2002 as best Finnish singer and as the most wonderful person.
Despite the band growing success Tarja made time available for her studies and other projects. In the end of 1999 Turunen took part as a soloist singer in a modern ballet production of the Finnish National Opera House called “The Evankeliumi”.
The show was written and directed by the famous Finnish choreographer Jorma Uotinen together with Kärtsy Hatakka of the Finnish band Waltari. All performances of “The Evankeliumi” were completely sold out.
In the beginning of 2000 Nightwish took part in the Finnish qualification of the Eurovision Song Contest with the song Sleepwalker. Nightwish was second despite an overwhelming win in the public televoting.
This hasn’t been the first time for a TV appearance by Tarja that has also been in some well-known Finnish programmes such as Lista Yle TV, Kokkisota MTV3, Hotelli Sointu TV1, Vaarallinen risteys MTV3, Huomenta Suomi MTV3 and Jyrki MTV3.
In May 2000 Nightwish released their third album ”Wishmaster”, which immediately rose to the charts all over the world and went platinum in Finland in a matter of weeks.
“Wishmaster” sold over 150.000 copies worldwide.
The year 2000 was very busy for Tarja and Nightwish, who constantly toured Europe, Finland, Canada and South America.
There was more demand for gigs than the band could handle, so in 2001 the first live Nightwish-recording was made on New Years Eve 2000-2001, when Nightwish played a gig at club Pakkahuone in Tampere, Finland.
The gig was filmed and recorded, and that material was then made into a DVD and VHS. The Finnish fans also got a limited edition full-length Live CD. All of these formats were released under the name “From Wishes to Eternity – Live”, and every format proved to be a huge seller reaching once again, gold in Finland in CD format and gold in Germany in DVD.
Before making their next full-length album, the band released a Mini-CD called “Over the Hills And Far Away” which quickly sold platinum in Finland and has achieved already double platinum status in their home country. After the “Over the Hills and Far Away” -EP the band started working on their 4th full-length studio album “Century Child”, but while the musicians were recording and writing the album, Tarja decided to go one step forward with her vocal studies by enrolling in the Music University of Karlsruhe, Germany.
Although the studying schedule of Karlsruhe was very tight, Tarja managed to find time not only to record her vocals for “Century Child”, but also to record vocals for the Argentinean bassist Beto Vazquez’s album “Infinity” that become also an immediate success worldwide with releases in far East, Russia, hole Europe and South America, outstanding achievement for the band just because of the link with Tarja’s name.
After some warm up concerts in Germany, Tarja also tour the classical stages of South America in Chile and Argentina performing a Lied Concert named “Noche Escandinava” (Scandinavian Night) together with Marjut Paavilainen, Ingvild Storhaug and Izumi Kawakatzu
The sold out concerts sponsored by the Embassies of Finland, Germany, Japan, Norway and the Government of the City of Buenos Aires brought to South America songs from Jean Sibelius, Ture Rangström, Leevi Madetoja, Oskar Merikanto, Hugo Wolf, Richard Strauss, Gustav Mahler, Johannes Brahms, Felix Mendelssohn performed by Tarja Turunen creating a special connection between Tarja and the audience that will see her later once again developing her classical career in these countries.
Nightwish’s fourth album Century Child was released in the spring of 2002, and it has sold nearly 250.000 copies worldwide. The album release was followed by the massive “World Tour of the Century” which was three months long and took Nightwish’s to ten countries around the world where the band performed 25 shows in front of 150.000 people.
Exhausted of the world tour, Nightwish made a decision to have a long break to give its members some time of their own. Most members of Nightwish quickly engaged in several side projects, and Tarja went back to Karlsruhe before the end of the year to continue her studies.
Once again the huge demand for more shows pushed the band to perform two extra headlines sold out shows for 15.000 people at Oberhausen Arena and Munich in January 2003.
When the official break was finally over, Nightwish got into the Summer of Innocence tour starting in June 2003. The experienced left behind 14 countries and 400.000 eyes that have been witnesses of those incredible nights.
After three huge tours the band had in their hands an unbelievable amount of good off-stage and on-stage material. A documentary was an obvious choice when a usage for the material was planned, but the band felt that something extra was needed to support the various touring scenes.
The answer was found when the Finnish music journalist Mape Ollila, who has been closely working with the band since the very beginning of Nightwish, asked Tuomas for an in-depth interview. Tuomas agreed, and the interviewers were then taken to Tuomas Holopainen’s summer cottage with Nighwish members and crew.
With the interview combined with the touring material, the result was the 2 hours and 15 minutes long documentary, which tells the band’s tale in their words, from the very beginning to the present day.
The new DVD “End of the Innocence” was released in October 2003 worldwide.
At this point the year has already been very successful for Tarja, but it was definitely crowned by the invitation received from Finnish President Tarja Halonen and husband Dr. Arajärvi to assist to the President’s Palace for the Finnish Independence Day Party, the most important social event of the country that takes place every year.
Tarja Turunen achieved a new status when Yle TV Station official web page named her as The Most Impressive dressed lady in the party according to the people vote. Also the most important Finnish daily Newspapers as Ilta Lehti and Ilta Sanomat awarded her as the Queen of the Night and the Second Most Impressive dressed lady respectively.
Many magazines and novedadespapers reflected this new mentioned status in their publications in the following month with a full national coverage of the issue.
To end with an astonishing year, in December 19th 2003 Tarja Turunen performed, after tree years, an intimate Christmas Concert. The small Valkeala’s Church welcomed 600 people whom stood up to return a warmth applause to the artist after 60 minutes of traditional Finnish Christmas music from Sibelius, Kotilainen and Melartin as well as some arias from Bach and Mozart.
Nightwish started recording a brand new studio album and Tarja Turunen, after registering her parts, once again in the classical field, travelled to Buenos Aires, Argentina to share her voice this time offering a one month singing course to already trained musicians.
Among the facts we can expect for 2004, we’ll find Tarja flying to Chile, Argentina, Brazil, and Romania for a second tour with her classical line up of Noche Escandinava.
The first official web page (already many not official ones can be found) for Tarja will be launched under www.tarjaturunen.com Nightwish has released their new album, “Once” what will take Tarja to uncountable photo sessions, press conferences and interviews in Finland and worldwide.
Just a warm up for the 2004 World Tour expected to be biggest one so far for a Finnish act abroad.
Still Tarja will need to find some time to co produce and sing in her brother Timo’s iskelma (schlager) debut album.
What seems in advance to be the most busy year for Tarja Turunen so far, 2004 will also show the beginning of her solo career with a long time planned Christmas Album.
Album global sales with Nightwish exceed 1.000.000 copies.
Tarja has already performed for more than 500.000 people worldwide.
Many songs and video clips from Nigthwish have already been in high rotation in several countries.
The TV broadcasting of the Independence Day’s Celebration at the Presidential Castle introduced Tarja Turunen to more than 2.000.000 people in Finland according to Yle TV Station.
So far, this has only begun…