© Copyright Samuel Glassar Visual

Singer

Maria Hänninen

Maria Hänninen is a singer-songwriter/ multi-instrumentalist. Alongside her strong vocals you can see bass, guitar and violin in her hands, sometimes even percussions and piano. Guess that the definition of multi-purpose machine can be used, when describing her versatility.
She has appeared on over 130 records throughout the years, toured and performed with many Finnish and international top artists and groups. To mention a few: the late Ken Hensley (Uriah Heep), Corky Laing (Mountain, West, Bruce& Laing), Finnish legends such as Dave Lindholm, Pelle Miljoona, Freud, Marx, Engels & Jung, Hector, Liisa Akimof, Erja Lyytinen, Jake’s Blues Band, Riku Niemi Orchestra, Hannu Leidén (Havana Black), Michael Monroe etc.

At the moment she is mainly concentrating on her new hard/classic rock band Mount Mary (est. 2019). Mount Mary’s debut album (self-titled) was released in January 2021, and it has received an excellent welcome, getting airplay all over the world.    Not only is she the songwriter of all tracks and the lead vocalist; this time also GibsonSG in her hands, heavy riffing and even some solo’s for the first time. At the moment MM is working on their second album.
She feels most home with hard/classic rock and bluesy, soulful roots music, but throughout the years all kinds of genres have become familiar to her.

Piano was her first instrument. Thought they at first didn’t have a piano at home, she could go and practice with their neighbour’s piano. There she made her first own song, at the age of eight. She studied piano with a private teacher for few years, and alongside piano playing came the studies of classical violin and music theory in a music school.

At the age of 15 she had a chance to try out singing with a local rock band, and that sparked in her to really start making her own songs and getting into the singing more and more. Rock, blues and soul grew more important to her, and she quit the violin studies at the age of 16, swearing that she would never touch that instrument again. But later on she has found herself playing the violin, by ear, in many bands and recordings. Never say never.
The first band she joined in, at the age of 18,was called Fargon, and they made a vinyl single of their own songs, selling it in the local stores of this little country village, Rantasalmi.

After graduating from Rantasalmi Senior High School she moved to Helsinki to study at Oulunkylä Pop-Jazz School, concentrating on singing. That is where she also learned some drum playing as well.
Experience with violin got her interested in bass and guitar playing later.
She also studied sound engineering at Finnish Broadcasting Company’s college, graduated from there, and has also been working as a sound engineer in TV and radio. Some complementary studies of sound engineering/producing at Sibelius Academy helped a lot in her work, especially in mixing bands on air in the music shows of popular Radio Mafia (YLE, Finnish Broadcasting Company).
The will and desire to be on the other side of the microphone grew so heavy, that after three years in the radio she completely started concentrating on her career as a musician.

Songwriting has always been very important for her.
Besides being involved in many other artist’s recordings, she has also released four solo albums in Finnish and one in English.

Links

© Copyright Jiri Halttunen

Singer

Noora Kuusikko

Noora is a troubadour, who has been performing with different groups for over 20 years. Noora started to play the violin at the age of six. In her teens she used to sneak into her big brother’s room and taught herself to play the electric guitar. Noora’s professional career took off, when a Polish big band leader asked Noora to perform with Rantakylä’s big band, and soon Noora was a part of different jazz groups performing in Finland and abroad. 

When Noora started to write her own songs it became clear that the music style was rock. Noora set up a band called Valve and after a few years of touring and writing songs the band ended up winning The Best Demo Band in Finland – contest aired on TV2. At the same time Noora performed with different cover bands and as troubadour. Noora studied international development work and her adventures have taken her and her guitar from Nairobi Kibera slum to the prisons of Palestine.

Currently Noora performs as a troubadour and is a part of ”Sairaan kauniit” duet with an amazing accordion player Heli Siekkinen. Noora can also be seen in flamenco productions and she was the lead singer in Anna-Mari Laulumaa’s ”Echos from the Cells of Patarei” production, which took place in Tallinn Patarei prison in 2020. 

Singer

Tea Salo

Music has been in Tea Salo’s life since early childhood. From the age of three Tea performed songs from Katri Helena & Boney M in her family’s living room. The audience, her family, had to sit quietly during the performance and after the show, they were told to give a round of applause by the artist herself.

Tea started playing piano with a private teacher at the age of six. Later she applied to a local music school and begun playing clarinet. Tea went on with her music career and proceeded to study in a conservatorium in Lahti to become a music pre school teacher. Tea taught music for several years in the same music school where she started her career at the age of nine. Nowadays Tea works as a youth leader and continues her studies of social work.

Tea’s first band started to play together around the millennium. Since then, Tea has been performing in many different groups and projects. In 2010 Tea’s Half Acoustic (THA) was formed, and the band is still going strong. Tea participated in the TV-show Voice of Finland in 2013 where she was a part of Michael Monroe’s team. Tea performed in the duels but got cut out just before the live shows.
In the year 2019 Tea’s life almost ended. She had a serious heart attack. She collapsed during shopping in a local market.  Her heart stopped beating for over 30 minutes. Luckily help came quickly. Tea was rushed into a hospital where she went through an emergency operation to save her life. She was in a coma and in a respirator. For a few days, no one knew if she was ever going to wake up again. But against all odds, she survived and recovered. She came back from the dead.
Tea has been composing original music with her guitarist husband Petri. When the covid-19 pandemic wiped out all the live-shows, Tea had time to organize her band to record original music. In May 2021 Tea’s Half Acoustic released their debut album “Moving”.  The album has been a small success in the Finnish blues scene and has gained some attention also abroad.  THA’s music is based on rhythm & blues, with a touch of soul & rock, layered with a hint of country & pop.

Tea is a versatile and powerful singer. She has been singing pop, rock, soul, hard rock, jazz, blues, country and so much more. Tea’s musicality and distinctive, rough & recognizable voice has delighted audiences throughout the country.

Tea Salo with her band Tea's Half Acoustic
© Copyright Laura Malmivaara

Singer

Hannu Lepola

Hannu spent his childhood and youth on the eastern border of Finland, Lappeenranta. He attended a music class at his elementary school and studied various classical instruments at a music college. He enjoyed choral singing from an early age in the local children’s choir and later in the youth chamber choir. As a teenager, he found rock music, got a guitar and started making his own songs and also played drums in the band.

After moving to Helsinki, Hannu continued his band hobby; he was e.g. as a bassist-singer in a rock trio (The Sun) like his great role model Sting. The goal, of course, was a great international rock star career. While studying singing at the Pop & Jazz Conservatory, he met Essi Wuorela, who in the fall of 1998 told about an a cappella band called Rajaton who needed a new tenor. He went to the audition and immediately realized that he wants to be involved in making music like that. The band seemed really determined and ambitious, and its members were (and still are, increasingly) great singers, great personalities and nice company.

Rajaton has supplanted his other music projects. In addition to singing, he does compositions and arrangements for Rajaton, and when the opportunity arises, he also gives training to other bands. He no longer dreams of being a rock star, fortunately Through a couple of decades, he has been able to make better music for his work than he could even dream of when he was younger.

Hannu and Erkki have some history together and with this HiSQ song they are back together again. They had a great time in the studio with Janne Oinas recording Hannu’s vocals.

Singer

Marko Hietala

Marko Hietala has used the name Marco Hietala for most of his musical career. He started a band called Tarot in Kuopio, Finland, with his brother Zachary. Playing bass and singing was Marco’s thing. He moved to Nightwish in 2002 and stayed in the lineup for nearly 20 years.

His first solo album Mustan sydämen rovio was released in 2019 in Finnish and the next year in English (Pyre of the Black Heart). He has been a member of Sapattivuosi and Northern Kings and also in 2022 Marko takes part in Raskasta Joulua (Heavy Xmas), a tour where great singers and musicians perform Christmas songs as heavy versions.