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Tarja Soile Susanna Turunen Cabuli (IPA: [ˈtɑrjɑ...ˈturunen]) (born August 17, 1977, Finland) is a full lyric soprano and songwriter, best known as co-founder and the former female vocalist of Finnish heavy metal quintet Nightwish. She was dismissed from the band on October 22, 2005 after nine years. Turunen is now devoting her time to her solo career under the stage name of Tarja. She is married to Argentine businessman Marcelo Cabuli. Tarja has also appeared in various Finnish television programs, and was a guest judge on "Idols" on March 27, 2007. She is seen as one of Finland's biggest singers, having been called "the voice of Finland" by Tarja Halonen, the Finnish president.
Tarja with Nightwish
Nightwish demo (1996)
After playing keyboards in several heavy metal bands in the 1990s, including for example Nattvindens Gråt and Darkwoods My Betrothed, Tuomas Holopainen decided to create his own project while sitting around a campfire with friends in 1996. He immediately had a clear idea of the music: experimentally acoustic music he wrote by himself, similar to the music usually played around campfires, but with a distinct sound of atmosphere, played on his keyboards.
He soon invited friend and schoolmate Erno "Emppu" Vuorinen to play acoustic guitars, and the classical vocalist Tarja Turunen, who had the same music teacher as they, Plamen Dimov. The three musicians recorded their self-titled acoustic demo in the winter of 1996. The name “Nightwish” was derived from the first song the band recorded together, and the demo also included the song “The Forever Moments”, and an early version of “Etiäinen”.
After recording the Nightwish demo, Holopainen decided that Turunen’s operatic voice was too powerful for an acoustic band, and decided to add in heavy metal elements, including electric guitars and drums.
Angels Fall First (1997)
Main article: Angels Fall First
Nightwish playing "Sacrament of Wilderness", from Oceanborn.In early 1997, following the release of the Nightwish demo, Jukka “Julius” Nevalainen joined the band, and acoustic guitar was replaced with electric guitar. The addition of heavy metal elements to the band's existing experimental style gave the band a unique sound, forming the core of the Nightwish sound.
The band entered the studio in April 1997 to record seven songs for their second demo, entitled Angels Fall First. As a precursor to their debut full length album of the same name, the demo made its way to the Finnish record label Spinefarm Records in May 1997. The label signed Nightwish to a two album deal, and the band returned to the studio to re-record songs from their second demo. The full length album Angels Fall First was released internationally in November 1997 and reached number 31 on the Finnish album charts, with the single “The Carpenter” reaching number 3 on the Finnish singles chart. “The Carpenter” single was released as a split with label mates Children of Bodom and Thy Serpent.
Angels Fall First is one of the two albums which features keyboardist Tuomas Holopainen's vocals, appearing on four of the album's eleven tracks, alongside vocalist Tarja Turunen.
Critical reception of Angels Fall First was mixed, with Allmusic rating the album 3 out of 5 stars, and The Metal Observer would later state that Nightwish’s debut album “paled drastically in comparison to their later work".
In December 1997, after over a year of existence, Nightwish made their live debut in their hometown Kitee, Finland. Since they were missing a bass player, Samppa Hirvonen joined them as a sessional live member. Marjaana Pellinen was also a sessional live member on an additional keyboard and was a sessional backing vocalist for Tarja. The band had considered making Samppa Hirvonen a permanent member until they met Sami Vänskä in 1998. During the winter of 1997 and 1998, the band performed only seven times, due to Nevalainen and Vuorinen’s obligatory Finnish military service, and Turunen finishing her schooling.
Main article: Oceanborn
"Sacrament of Wilderness"
Sacrament of Wilderness, Nightwish’s breakout single, garnered the band its first success outside of Finland.
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Band live at 1999 in Europe.Following a string of live shows in Finland, the band filmed their first video clip for “The Carpenter” in April 1998. Nightwish completed their touring line up in the summer of 1998 when bassist Sami Vänskä, an old friend of Holopainen, joined the band. Nightwish then returned to the studio in August 1998 as a five-piece, to record their follow up album for Spinefarm records.
On October 7, 1998, Nightwish released their second full length album, Oceanborn, in Finland only. Adopting a more technical and progressive sound than Angels Fall First, Oceanborn saw the band abandon much of the ambient and folk elements present on their debut release, the only folk song is "Moondance". In contrast to the female vocals of Turunen, the album also featured guest growling vocals by Tapio Wilska (ex-Finntroll).
Oceanborn was well received, with Allmusic writing that the album “as a whole works great”, with songs that are “very strong”. Oceanborn was an instant success in Finland, reaching number 5 on the Finnish album charts. The album’s first single, “Sacrament of Wilderness”, hit number 1 on the Finnish singles charts, where it stayed for several weeks. The album’s release was initially limited to Finland, but due to the success of “Sacrament of Wilderness”, Spinefarm released Oceanborn internationally in the spring of 1999.
In May 1999, Nightwish recorded the single “Sleeping Sun (Four Ballads of the Eclipse)”. In one month the single sold 15,000 copies in Germany alone. Following the band’s first international success, Nightwish was added as the opening band for Rage’s 1999 European tour. Both the album Oceanborn and the single “Sacrament of Wilderness” were certified gold in Finland in August 1999.
Main article: Wishmaster (album)
Band in Paris, France, during the "Wishmaster World Tour".While in the studio in early 2000 working on their third album, Nightwish was accepted in the Finnish Eurovision Song Contest with the song “Sleepwalker”. ( sample (help·info)) Despite winning the public vote, Nightwish eventually finished in second place, with the jury choosing local gospel singer Nina Åström to represent Finland.
In May 2000, Nightwish released their third studio album Wishmaster which debuted at #1 on the Finnish album charts, and following three weeks at number one, was certified gold in Finland.
Critical response to the album was mixed, with Allmusic citing the album as repetitive, and saying “as a whole album, it can be a little annoying, even frustrating”. However, German magazine Rock Hard declared Wishmaster “Album of the Month”, despite competing against long-awaited May releases from Iron Maiden and Bon Jovi.
Following the release of Wishmaster, Nightwish embarked on their first world tour, playing dates in South America, Mexico, Canada, and the first headlining European tour with Sinergy and Eternal Tears of Sorrow. In the summer the band returned to Europe, appearing at the Wacken Open Air festival and the Biebop Metal Fest.
Over the Hills and Far Away EP (2001)
Main article: Over the Hills and Far Away (album)
Nightwish live at Tampere, Finland.In 2001, Nightwish recorded a cover of Gary Moore’s “Over the Hills and Far Away” together with two new songs (“10th Man Down” and “Away”) and a remake of “Astral Romance” (from the Angels Fall First album) with Tony Kakko (Sonata Arctica) singing Tuomas' part. This was released as their first, EP - "Over the Hills and Far Away".
The record also included guest performances by Tapio Wilska (ex-Finntroll) once again. They also released a VHS, DVD and CD with live material recorded in a show in Tampere, on December 29, 2000. All of these were entitled From Wishes to Eternity.
Nightwish’s version of "Over the Hills and Far Away" was well received by fans, becoming a frequent part of the band’s live performances. The song is included on several compilation albums as well as the End of an Era DVD released in 2006. However, the other new songs never had a great break-through and have not been re-released, with the exception of a live performance of 10th Man Down on the "End of Innocence" DVD with Marco Hietala (current bass player and male vocalist).
Soon after the release, Nightwish met what's been described as one of their hardest points as a band. The problem mostly relied on the bassist, Sami Vänskä who had started misbehaving towards the band by, for example, missing appointments and failing to take gigs as seriously as the other members would. After the band discussed this with Vänskä several times, without change, everyone simply stopped caring and tensions grew.
Meanwhile, guitarist Emppu Vuorinen had started complaining about his role in the band, feeling like "a hired gun who would only do what he's asked to". According to their music teacher, Plamen Dimov, he and Holopainen were totally different characters, and thus difficulties were expected to arise. But Vuorinen was told to stay cool and "bite the bullet", and no more was spoken about the problem.
Nightwish live in 2001.Soon, Holopainen seriously started thinking about breaking Nightwish up. After a gig in Russia, he sent a text message to fellow musician Tony Kakko of power metal band Sonata Arctica, telling him that he did not think he had a band any longer, and asked him what plans he had for next year. After Nightwish's last gig for the Over the Hills and Far Away tour in 2001, Holopainen called Drakkar and Spinefarm, unofficially declaring Nightwish over. He told them he might produce another album, but he would never perform another show with the band. The same message was also written on the band's message board.
Straight after the last gig, Holopainen went on a week-long hiking trip to Lapland with Tony Kakko feeling relieved after finally breaking Nightwish up, albeit only unofficially. But during the hiking trip, something obviously happened and even though they barely discussed the matter alone in the wilderness, they both understood he could not break up Nightwish that easily. When he returned from Lapland he immediately received a phone call from Ewo Pohjola offering himself to become their manager and help him straighten things up. And Holopainen agreed.
In order to continue with Nightwish, Holopainen decided there had to be changes. Apart from agreeing for Ewo to become their new manager, he also decided to ask Sami Vänskä to leave the band. Marco Hietala (Tarot and Sinergy) was asked to join the band, effectively leaving Sinergy. As well as playing bass guitar, Hietala would also perform male vocals. Earlier, as required, either Holopainen (on the Angels Fall First album) or a guest musician performed the male vocals. Holopainen has since said publicly that he and Vänskä still keep in touch, contrary to rumours saying that they have not met since. However, they are not interested in making another project together.
Century Child (2002–2003)
Main article: Century Child
Band live Bang Your Head Festival, in 2002.In 2002, Nightwish released Century Child, along with the singles “Ever Dream” and “Bless the Child”. The main difference from previous albums is the use of a live orchestra from Finland on “Bless the Child”, “Ever Dream”, “Feel For You” and “The Beauty of the Beast”, to get a more present feeling of classical music. An enduring favorite of fans, though, is the band’s version of “The Phantom of the Opera”, from the famous musical of the same name by composer Andrew Lloyd Webber. The song was repeatedly played in concerts until vocalist Tarja Turunen was replaced with Anette Olzon, whereupon the band announced that they would never play the song live again.
Century Child was certified gold two hours after its release, and platinum two weeks afterwards. It set a record on the Finnish album charts as well; never before had the second been so distant from the first place. After the “Bless the Child” video, a second one was recorded, without any single support. The chosen track was “End of All Hope”. The clip contains pieces from the Finnish movie, Kohtalon kirja (English: The Book of Fate).
In 2003, Nightwish released their second DVD, entitled End of Innocence. The DVD tells the story of the band in Holopainen, Nevalainen and Tapio Wilska’s words for two hours. The documentary also features bits of live concerts, exclusive footage, etc.
Vocalist Tarja Turunen also got married during the summer of 2003, and there were rumours that the band was about to be dissolved. These rumours were, at the time, proven to be false, as the band continued to play concerts for another year and released another album. The marriage was later to play a part in Tarja’s dismissal from the band in the autumn of 2005.
Main article: Once (Nightwish album)
Nightwish live in June 2005, during their “Once World Tour”.A new album entitled Once was released on June 7, 2004, along with their first single, “Nemo” (Latin: “No one”), from that album. The single topped the charts in Finland and Hungary, and reached the top ten in five additional countries. “Nemo” therefore remains the band's most successful single release to date.
With Once, Nightwish started to produce orchestral versions of some of their songs. Songs that have been produced as orchestral versions include “Nemo”, “Ghost Love Score”, Kuolema Tekee Taiteilijan and Creek Mary's Blood.
Once utilizes a full orchestra in nine of the eleven songs on the album. Unlike Century Child, Nightwish decided to look for an orchestra outside of Finland this time, choosing the London Philharmonic Orchestra. It is also their second album to feature a full-length song in Finnish, “Kuolema tekee taiteilijan” (English: “Death Makes an Artist”). Once has sold triple platinum in Finland, platinum in Germany, gold in Sweden and reached #1 in the Greek, Norwegian and Hungarian album charts. The following singles were: “Wish I Had an Angel” (featured on the soundtrack of the film Alone in the Dark), “Kuolema Tekee Taiteilijan” (released only in Finland and Japan) and “The Siren”. Besides the commercial success, Once was also accepted by critics, with many positive reviewers drawing comparisons with Oceanborn.
Founding band member and principal song writer Tuomas Holopainen, during the “Once World Tour” in 2005.The success of the album allowed them to perform the Once World Tour, which enabled them to play in many countries the band had never visited before. Nightwish performed at the opening ceremony of the 2005 World Championships in Athletics, held in Helsinki, highlighting acclaim the band has recently gained.
A “best of” album was released in September 2005, containing songs from their whole discography. The compilation is entitled Highest Hopes, also featuring a live cover of Pink Floyd’s song “High Hopes” (from the The Division Bell album) (sample). Besides High Hopes, a remake of “Sleeping Sun” (from Oceanborn) was put on the album, which was also released as a single. A new video for “Sleeping Sun” was shot, featuring a medieval battle, and can be found on the German release of the single and as a separate DVD released by Spinefarm.
End of an Era (2005–2006)
Main article: End of an Era
The last show with Tarja Turunen, titled End of an Era, at Finland.After the recording in the Hartwall Areena (Helsinki) on October 21, 2005, of the new live DVD End of an Era (released June 2006), the four other members of Nightwish decided that it was best to continue Nightwish without Tarja Turunen, a feeling they expressed through an open letter which was given to Turunen by Tuomas Holopainen after the concert, and afterwards posted on the band’s website. It was written by Holopainen but signed by the other band members. The main justification given in the letter for Turunen’s dismissal was that the band felt that both her husband Marcelo Cabuli (an Argentine businessman) and commercial interests had changed her attitude towards the band.
Turunen responded to the incident twice, during a press conference in Finland and in Germany, saying that her dismissal came entirely as a shock to her, given that she had not been notified before the letter was given to her. She felt that the personal attacks on her husband were unwarranted, and that playing the issue out in public was “senselessly cruel”. She expressed these feelings through her own open letter, which was published on her personal website, and through various TV, magazine, and newspaper interviews.
Since then, Turunen has focused on her own solo career, however she is still often covering Nightwish songs in live concerts.
In December 2005, Turunen performed several Christmas concerts in Finland, Germany, Spain and Romania. 2006 was not a break year for Turunen, who recorded a Christmas album and vocals for her brother Timo Turunen's debut album. She also made an appearance at the Savonlinna Opera Festival.
The following day, September 17, Tarja's solo dates were announced across Europe. The currently confirmed cities are Berlin, London, Moscow, Budapest, Athens, Cologne, Paris, Amsterdam and Zurich.
In October 2007 a street team endorsed by Universal Music and Spinefarm UK was launched for Tarja through UK-based company Worst Decision. The team's aim is to help promote Tarja's upcoming single, album and tour with the help of dedicated fans, the most dedicated of which will be eligible to receive free gifts for their work. While currently aimed mainly at the UK market it is hoped that many members from all over the world will join to help spread the word about Tarja throughout the UK, Europe and around the world.
Tarja with her own band at Obras Stadium in 2008.Tarja's first independent album, My Winter Storm, was released in November 2007 and achieved gold status in Finland on the day of release. The album took the number 1 spot on the Finnish charts, went platinum in Finland and gold in Russia, her first ever in Russia. My Winter Storm has also achieved gold in Hungary and in the Czech Republic. Tarja also sings on the track "In The Picture" on Nuclear Blast Allstars' album Into The Light, 2007.
In late 2007 Tarja was nominated for two awards, an "ECHO" as best newcomer and an "Emma" for best Finnish artist. She is also confirmed to headline day one of the 2008 Metal Female Voices Fest in Wieze, Belgium.
On 9 May 2008, Tarja embarked on a long European tour to promote My Winter Storm, Storm Tour. She chose to open the tour by performing at Wave-Gotik-Treffen in Leipzig, Germany. Turunen has also told fans via her My Winter Storm blog that she is relocating to Antigua to work with the same producer as before, and that she has many ideas for her third album, currently in progress.
In July 2008, she announced two tracks in the My Winter Storm blog: "The Crying Moon" for the new album, and "Enough", for one special edition of My Winter Storm. So, on August 2008 she played "Enough" in her Storm Tour, in South America 2008.
On 10 September 2008, a Spinefarm UK representative announced that they will be releasing an EP for Tarja on 1 December which will include new material. In December 2008 The Seer EP was released in the U.K. and the new extended edition of My Winter Storm released on January 2, 2009.
Tarja is currently recording her second album "What Lies Beneath" which is set for a 2009 release
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