Tarja Turunen (born 17 August 1977), full name Tarja Soile Susanna Turunen Cabuli, is a Finnish singer-songwriter and composer, full operatic lyric soprano. Her work includes three solo albums, and an 11 song EP. She is best known as an original member and the former lead vocalist of Finnish symphonic metal band Nightwish, founded by herself, Tuomas Holopainen and Erno Vuorinen in 1996. She was dismissed from the band on October 21, 2005. In 2006, Turunen released her first independent album, a Christmas project called Henkäys Ikuisuudesta, with a support classical tour between November 25 and December 26 in Finland and Russia. In 2007, Turunen released My Winter Storm, an album with various styles, including alternative rock and symphonic metal; it sold over 650,000 copies worldwide and was promoted by a big tour, the Storm World Tour, between 2007 and 2009. Tarja’s third album, What Lies Beneath, was released on September 1, 2010, and between June and August Tarja performed several concerts in Europe, playing in famous metal festivals including the Graspop Metal Meeting and the Wacken Open Air, with more dates expected to be confirmed in the near future.
Born in Kitee, Finland, Turunen grew up with an older and a younger brother. She began playing the piano when she was six. At the comprehensive school Turunen was notorious for performing as a singer in every project. Her teacher Plamen Dimov later on explained that he had to give Turunen just one note, she immediately got it, while with other – nevertheless talented – pupils he would have had to practice a couple of times At the school she had a tough time for some girls bullied her because they envied her voice. To solve that problem Dimov organized a lot of projects outside the school. At the age of fifteen Turunen had her first bigger appearance as a soloist on a church concert in front of a thousand listeners. Later on she attended the Senior Secondary School of Art and Music in Savonlinna. At the age of eighteen she moved to the city of Kuopio to study at the Sibelius Academy.
At Christmas break 1996 her former classmate Tuomas Holopainen invited her to join his new acoustic mood music project. She immediately agreed. At the first recording session it became apparent, that due to her classical singing lessons, Turunens voice had become much more powerful than Holopainen had in mind from their school days. At the following band practices Emppu Vuorinen used an electric guitar instead of the acoustic guitar because he felt that it better fitted to her voice. Holopainen finally decided to form Nightwish as a metal band. He later on explained, that the band mates bit by bit realised, that Turunen’s voice had become too dramatic for acoustic mood music, so they came to the conclusion, that the music had to be massive too. Thus Turunen as a founding member was at the same time influential on the musical style of Nightwish. In April 1997 Nightwish recorded a second demo with “more bombastic, dramatic” songs, with which Holopainen could finally convince the Finnish label Spinefarm Records to publish the debut album Angels Fall First. The success of the first album came as a surprise to everyone. As the album hit the top 40 of the Finnish charts, Nightwish started a first tour (The First Tour of the Angels). Due to her commitment in the band Turunen soon was not able to concentrate sufficiently on her academic activities anymore and finally interrupted her academic studies. In the year 1998 Nightwish published their second album Oceanborn. This album lacked the earlier elements of folk music and ambience, instead focusing on Turunen’s dramatic voice and including fast, melodious keyboard and guitar lines. Secondary to the Oceanborn Europe Tour Turunen sang solo in Waltari’s rock-themed 1999 ballet Evankeliumi (also known as Evangelicum) in several sold-out performances at the Finnish National Opera. In 2000 and 2001 Nightwish recorded Wishmaster and Over the Hills and Far Away and toured Europe and South America (Wishmaster World Tour). Turunen met her husband and manager, Marcelo Cabuli, during a tour in Buenos Aires in 2000. After that she enrolled in the German Music University Hochschule für Musik Karlsruhe to gain a professional qualification as a soloist with further specialization in Art song. The reasons to go to Karlsruhe, were on the one hand the good reputation of the university, on the other, her increased awareness level in Finland and the fact that in the Finnish university some people did not take her seriously as a classical singer due to her commitment in a metal band. At Karlsruhe in contrast, she was accepted as a classical singer who sings in a metal band too. In particular, her professors did not think of it as a flaw. While there, she recorded vocals for Nightwish’s 2002 album Century Child and for Beto Vázquez Infinity. As with the other albums before Holopainen wrote the pieces and then sent Turunen the lyrics and a demo recording of the prerecorded instrumental tracks by mail. With the help of the demo recording, Turunen designed her vocal lines and the choral passages to the melody. In 2002, Turunen toured South America, performing in the classical Lied concert Noche Escandinava (Scandinavian Night), again to sold-out houses. Following this and an exhausting world tour in support of Century Child the World Tour of the Century, Nightwish took a hiatus and Turunen returned to Karlsruhe to finnish her studies. After the hiatus Nightwish recorded the album Once that hit No. 1 on European Top 100 Albums, and started the supporting Once Upon a Tour throughout 2004-2005. For Christmas 2004, Turunen released the (solo) single “Yhden Enkelin Unelma” (One Angel’s Dream), which sold gold in her native country, Finland. At Christmas 2005 it made an reentry at position one in the finnish Charts. For the spring of 2005, she prepared a collaboration with Martin Kesici, the duet “Leaving You For Me”, also accompanied by a video.
The first change in the line up of Nightwish was in September 2001, when Sami Vänskä was asked to leave the band because his long-time friend Tuomas Holopainen was no longer able to continue working with him. Another change was on the way, when in the following years the relationship between Tuomas Holopainen and Turunen’s husband and manager Marcelo Cabuli deteriorated and affected the relationship between Holopainen and Turunen too. On December 2004 Turunen announced to the bandmembers that she wanted to leave the band after one more album (planned for 2006/2007) and the subsequent tour. According to her husband had Turunen agreed to release her first solo album after the new studio album from Nightwish. After the last concert of the Once Upon a Tour on October 21, 2005 (End of an Era) Holopainen gave her a letter that was signed by the other band members too. With that letter, she was informed that the band did not want to work with her anymore. This letter was at the same time published on the website of the band. In this letter Turunen was criticized for too often having skipped the rehearsals and to have behaved like a diva. Her husband was considered responsible for her behavior too. Turunen responded through an open letter, which was posted on her website and some interviews in which she explained her view. She was especially concerned about the fact that after nine years of working together Holopainen had not found another way than to announce the separation by an open letter. She explained that she could not find herself in the allegations, and asked to keep her husband out of the debate. Because of the continuing media interest Marcelo Cabuli posted a message to her website in February 2006, addressing the situation, and asked for anyone who had questions to email him. Cabuli then posted a lengthy reply to many of the questions he had received in June 2006. Despite the circumstances of the separation, the artistic appreciation remained. Holopainen explained that he did not search for a similar trained singer as a successor for Turunen because in her way of singing she is extraordinary good and therefore not replaceable. He also said that one day he would like to reestablish the friendship.In October 2007, Turunen said in an interview that she is very proud of her career with Nightwish, that she considers the remaining band members as extremely talented and that she wishes all the best for Nightwish.
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. On September 17, Turunen’s solo dates were announced across Europe in 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 Turunen through UK-based company Worst Decision. The team’s aim is to help promote Turunen’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 aimed mainly at the UK market, it was hoped that members from all over the world would join to help spread the word about Turunen throughout the UK, Europe and around the world. Turunen’s first independent album, My Winter Storm, was released in November 2007 and achieved gold status in Finland on its day of release. The album took the number 1 spot on the Finnish charts, went platinum in Finland and Russia. My Winter Storm has also achieved gold in Hungary and in the Czech Republic. Turunen also sings on the track “In The Picture” on Nuclear Blast Allstars’ album Into The Light, 2007. In late 2007 Turunen was nominated for two awards, an Echo as best newcomer and an Emma for best Finnish artist. She was also confirmed to headline day one of the 2008 Metal Female Voices Fest in Wieze, Belgium. On May 9, 2008, Turunen 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. In August 2008 she played “Enough” in her Storm Tour, in South America 2008. On September 10, 2008, a Spinefarm UK representative announced that they would be releasing an EP for Turunen on December 1 which would 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.[ On November 18 the Finnish charity Christmas album “Maailman kauneimmat joululaulut” was released, containing three songs featuring Turunen’s vocals. In December 2009 she recorded her part of the duet with Klaus Meine which is part of the final Scorpions album Sting in the Tail. The song is called “The Good Die Young”. Turunen recorded her third album, What Lies Beneath, between 2009 and 2010 and it was released on September 1, 2010. The first single, “Falling Awake”, was released on the 19th of July. The second single, “I Feel Immortal”, was released on August 27, 2010, and a music video for it has already been uploaded to YouTube. Another single, “Until My Last Breath”, was released on the 30th of August with an accompanying video released on September 24, 2010.