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 a 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 centre over 15.000 people, marking the audience record for the orchestra and the concert attendance record for the event. In the most recent Christmas seasons Tarja also joined as special guest the famous Finnish project Raskasta Joulua (“Metal Christmas”), sharing arena stages all over Finland with well known Finnish artists like Marko Hietala and Tony Kakko, and international special guests like Joe Lynn Turner, Dee Snider and Bernie Shaw.
In 2017 Tarja released a new and unexpected Christmas album: from Spirits and Ghosts (Score for a Dark Christmas), giving a dark twist to the traditional and most popular Christmas carols. The album uniquely blends Tarja’s classically trained voice with darker gothic influences and reminds the listener of a dark movie score. After the release the Concerts for a Dark Christmas tour presented live the entire album, with symphonic orchestra and choir, with sold out concerts in Czech Republic, Ukraine and Russia. The album has been released in a new special edition last year with the addition of the live album Christmas Together.
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 Colours in the Dark in 2013. Tarja’s following rock album The Shadow Self was released in 2016 accompanied by its prequel The Brightest Void, both recorded in different parts of the world and release by earMusic. Before hitting the road with the worldwide The Shadow Shows tour, The Brightest Summer tour brought Tarja’s creation on the stages of the most important festivals all over Europe, including Woodstock in Poland where Tarja performed in front of her biggest audience so far: 500.000 people.
Tarja’s latest rock creation In The Raw, released in August 2019, is another important milestone in Tarja’s career: it not only fulfilled but even outdid the promises and high expectations created by her previous releases. The album finds Tarja going to raw, personal places in her lyrics, while immortalising her in a stunning gold outfit inside the St Michael’s Cave in Gibraltar on the album’s cover. “Gold, we think, is something polished and perfect, sophisticated, a luxury – but in its natural state it’s a raw element”, explains Tarja. Just like the music on the album: a combination of sophisticated and refined orchestration, choir and her classically trained voice with a raw, dark heavy musical core. In The Raw features Björn “Speed” Strid, Tommy Karevik and Cristina Scabbia as special guests and has been praised as “a very versatile album that shows Tarja is still capable of grabbing and holding our attention after all these years” (Aardschok) where “The sonic landscape is very well balanced and as usual Tarja uses her gracious soprano voice to maneuver through all of it.” (Lust For Life)
As her fans all over the world very well know, the brightest star shines even brighter when on a stage. For Tarja the chance of performing live on in front of her audience has been as important, if not more, as the work done in the studio, and she performed over one thousand shows worldwide during her career so far. Tarja’s rock concerts over the years have been immortalised in the live releases Act I, Act II and Luna Park Ride.
Act I is the combination of two concerts recorded and filmed at the El Círculo Theatre in Rosario, Argentina, in March 2012, and released on CD, DVD and Blu-ray later the same year. Welcomed by enthusiastic reviews, Tarja’s first rock live release “manages to successfully capture all of the magic behind her live performances.” (Lee Walker, Firebrand Magazine)
Act II followed six years later, filmed during the world tour The Shadow Shows that saw Tarja travel over 300.000 km and play over 200 shows in 40 countries in front of 1 million people. Act II brings together two very different but complementary performances. The first one is Metropolis Live, a very intimate set filmed and recorded live at the Metropolis Studio in London, UK, two months prior to the release of The Shadow Self. Twenty lucky winners from all over Europe had the privilege to listen Tarja perform songs from her then unreleased album – for the first time in front of an audience. The second one is the breathtaking live performance of the Shadow Shows concert in Milan, Italy, recorded and filmed on November 2016 at the magnificent Teatro della Luna. Even though the shows deliberately differ in look, sound, approach to the music and adrenalin, both have one thing in common: from the very first to the very last tune, the state of the art production displays Tarja’s energetic performance and her graceful, charming presence.
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. The classical project Noche Escandinava gave Tarja the unique chance to perform the works of classical Finnish composers in South America in 2003 and 2004 and once again in 2018. On the same year Tarja also shared the stage with the Finnish power metal band Stratovarius for the 21 shows of the European tour A Nordic Symphony. Tarja has successfully collaborated in recordings with Within Temptation, #1 Dutch Symphonic Rock band with more than 83 million 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 collaborations have been with Schandmaul for the song Zu zweit allein and with Primal Fear for the single I Will Be Gone.
After the homonymous single was presented in 2011, the project Outlanders with Torsten Stenzel was finally ready to be digitally released in 2011… one single at the time. Outlanders combines electronic music with Tarja’s soft as well as classical vocals, electric and acoustic guitars. The three elements are a constant in all the songs and are equally important. The project features many special guests on guitar: Trevor Rabin, Al Di Meola, Joe Satriani, Walter Giardino, Vernon Reid, Bumblefoot, Mike Oldfield, Jennifer Batten, Marty Friedman and Steve Rothery.
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 history of the Finnish show.
After over fifteen years of solo career, it was finally time to celebrate. The Best of Tarja: A Night To Remember, combined the best of Tarja’s prolific solo career in two extraordinary concerts in January 2020 in Czech Republic and Romania. For this epochal event Tarja invited 16 performers to share – one again, for most of them – the stage with her, celebrating years of music and friendship. Especially the second concert, filmed and recorded at the Metropolitan Circus in Bucharest, was something never seen before by Tarja’s fans, who flew from all over Europe to join the sold out unprecedented event. What they had the chance to experience was an enchanting and unique show performed on a round stage in the middle of the hall, with a 360° view of the centre stage that redefines the way the audience feels the music and interacts with the artist. A night her fans won’t easily forget.
While the Covid-19 global emergency put the Raw Tour on a forced hiatus, Tarja took the change to write her first book. Frustrated at not being able to perform live and see her fans during 2020 Tarja revisited the great times she’d had making music, performing live and meeting her fans. She looked through thousands of photos and recalled recording sessions, tours, photo sessions, conversations … and created Singing In My Blood. The book saw the light of day in 2021, published by Rocket 88, and has been so far translated also in Finnish and Portuguese.