The brightest star of the symphonic rock scene, Tarja Turunen is certainly the most internationally well-known Finnish voice in the world of music. Soprano, composer and songwriter, she reached international fame co-founding and being for nine years the voice and image of the Finnish symphonic metal band Nightwish, collecting with them Gold and Platinum Record Awards in several countries.
The unique combination of metal music with Tarja’s soprano lead vocals gave birth to a new genre, quickly achieving critical and commercial popularity and inspiring many other metal bands and performers. But singing only somebody else’s creations was not her destiny, and her talent could fully bloom only outside that crate. Tarja had to walk alone.
Finally free to follow her own inspirations, heart, and dreams, Tarja started her own solo career successfully devoted to both classical and rock music. Since 2005 she dedicates every December in bringing to Finland and also abroad the magic of her Christmas shows.
The Christmas album Henkäys Ikuisuudesta achieved the double Platinum Record Award in Finland and was selected as the “Christmas album of the year” from all the local radio stations in the country. Tarja’s classical performances are not limited to Christmas shows, as she performed chamber music concerts with orchestras and different line-ups in many countries throughout the years. She also walked twice the famous opera stage of the Olavinlinna Castle at the Savonlinna Opera Festival in Finland, performing with Raimo Sirkia and José Cura. The latest outcome of Tarja’s deep love for classical music has been the recording at the Lakeuden Risti Church in Seinajoki, Finland, of her first classical studio album Ave Maria – En Plein Air, released internationally in 2015 and welcomed by ecstatic reviews.
Tarja’s flawless ability to blend rock and classical music found its perfect combination in her project Beauty and the Beat in collaboration with the American drummer Mike Terrana. Accompanied by symphonic orchestra and choir, the tour presented an unique program that included among others Puccini, Mozart, Bach, Led Zeppelin, Queen and her own songs. A step forwards after the successful experiences of Classic and Divine in Miskolc, Hungary in 2010 and at the Masters of Rock Festival in Czech Republic the same year, but not the last one. Tarja did once again share the stage with symphonic orchestra and choir for a special Orchestral Tour in Russia in March 2016 and in August of the same year she was also invited as soloist by Kymi Sinfonietta in Finland to open their autumn season with two concerts: at the Concert Hall in Kotka and open air in Kouvola for the Night of the Arts. The second concert gathered in the city center over 15.000 people, marking the audience record for the orchestra and the concert attendance record for the event.
There has also been many collaborations and side projects for Tarja throughout the years, from the electronic project Outlanders, using texts and inspired by the writer Paulo Coelho to a tour with Alice Cooper. Tarja has successfully collaborated in recordings with Within Temptation, #1 Dutch Symphonic Rock band with more than 18.000.000 views on YouTube with their song together Paradise (What About us?), the German #1 electronic artist Schiller with whom Tarja co-wrote a song pre-nominated for the Grammy Awards in USA, the Hard Rock legend Doro Pesch, the biggest Rock German selling artist of all times Scorpions and with British father of the acclaimed Tubular Bells Mike Oldfield with whom she co-wrote a song inspired and recorded in Antigua. Her latest collaboration has been with the German band Schandmaul for the song Zu zweit allein.
Tarja was nominated for the Emma Award in Finland in 2006 and 2007 and for the Echo Award in Germany in 2007, and she is the first Finnish solo artist to achieve a Gold Record in Germany and even more, the only one to do it both in a band and as solo artist. In 2015 and 2016 she has also been busy starring as coach in two seasons of The Voice of Finland, which is the most watched TV-program from Channel 4 in Finland, and leading her team to victory for two years in a row, something that never happened before in the Finnish show.
But the unique synergy between Tarja’s classical and rock inspirations is fully expressed in her solo rock career, which officially started when her first solo studio album My Winter Storm was released internationally in 2007 in more than 80 countries by Universal Music, achieving Gold Record Awards in Hungary, Czech Republic and Germany and Platinum Record Awards in Finland and Russia. The successful and unanimously praised debut album was followed by What Lies Beneath in 2010 and then by Colours in the Dark, released in 2013 by earMusic. The mellifluous blending of genres that characterized her music since the beginning reached a whole new sound in her latest creation. In its first week of release, Colours in the Dark charted at a vibrant #5 in Finland and Russia, and #6 in Germany. The world tour that followed saw Tarja performing 107 shows in 32 countries, stirring vivid emotions from the crowds gathered in front of her stage. For Tarja the chance of performing live on stage in front of her audience has been as important, if not more, as the work done in the studio, and she performed more than 700 shows worldwide during her career so far.
Tarja’s new rock album The Shadow Self and its prequel The Brightest Void have been recorded during 2015 in different parts of the world and earMusic released them in summer 2016. Already announced as another important milestone in Tarja’s career, they not only fulfilled but even outdid the promises and high expectations created by her previous releases. Within the first hours the album went #1 in the iTunes rock/heavy charts in Germany, UK, Finland, Netherlands, Switzerland and it was as well top 10 everywhere else (metal and all genres charts). The media praised The Shadow Self as Tarja’s “personal masterpiece” (Hardline, Germany), and found that it presents “many facets and a rich variety at the highest level” (Metal Hammer, Germany). The album combines “the best of massive riffs, enchanting melodious sound cascades and Tarja’s unique voice. Terrific.” (Sonic Seducer, Germany) and Tarja “succeeds once more to merge heavy metal with elegance” (Costum Machines, Spain). Metal Hammer UK concludes writing that “Tarja performs on The Shadow Self their numerous talents to form a whole together.”
The Brightest Summer tour brought Tarja’s new creation on the stages of the most important festivals all over Europe, from Hellfest in France to Woodstock in Poland where Tarja performed in front of her biggest audience so far: 500.000 people. At Wacken Open Air she presented not one but two shows, rocking the Black Stage and enchanting the audience of the Metal Church with an exclusive acoustic concert that opened the Festival with a program combining classical compositions and metal covers, from Schubert to Metallica. The Shadow Shows world tour started in October 2016 and reached 36 countries already, while new dates are constantly added to the route.
In November 2017 Tarja released a new and unexpected album: from Spirits and Ghosts (Score for a Dark Christmas), giving a dark twist to the traditional and most popular Christmas carols. The album, that includes classics like O Tannenbaum, We Wish You a Merry Christmas and Feliz Navidad, brings the songs to a never before seen level, uniquely blending Tarja’s classically trained voice with darker gothic influences and reminding the listener of a dark movie score. Praised by fans and critics, the album has been described as “the best festive offering from an artist for a very long time, if not forever. Tarja has perfectly balanced the haunting music (utilizing the sound of a grand orchestra) with the powerful voice she possesses to give the listener both warmth and chills. It is such a shame an album as good as this will only be heard for one month within the year” (Simon Kneller, MyGlobalMind).
After the release four sold out Concerts for a Dark Christmas presented live the entire album, with symphonic orchestra and choir, in Czech Republic and Ukraine and more dates are already being announced for December 2018.