Saara Aalto

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Saara Aalto
Singer Saara Aalto. Photo by Ville Paul Paasimaa.jpg
Saara Aalto in 2016
Background information
Birth name Saara Sofia Aalto
Born (1987-05-02) 2 May 1987 (age 30)
Oulunsalo, Finland
Genres Pop
Occupation(s)
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • voice actress
Instruments
  • Vocals
  • piano
Years active 1998–present
Labels
Website www.saaraaalto.com

Saara Sofia Aalto (born 2 May 1987)[1] is a Finnish singer, songwriter, and voice actress. She placed second in the first season of The Voice of Finland in 2012. Aalto also competed in the Finnish national selection to represent Finland in the Eurovision Song Contest twice, with self-penned songs; first in 2011 with "Blessed with Love" and then in 2016 with "No Fear", placing second both times. She has taken part in musicals on stage and has done a great number of dubbings for feature films and foreign television series. Saara Aalto is the voice of Princess Anna in the Finnish version of Disney's animated movie Frozen. She has dueted with Adam Lambert,[2] and had concerts together with Andrea Bocelli,[3] José Carreras[4] and pianist Robert Wells.[5] She has published 5 albums with her own record label Yume Records.[6]

In 2016, Aalto came runner-up in the thirteenth series of The X Factor UK, which gained her international recognition. Every fourth Finn watched The X Factor final.[7][8] Aalto was the most googled person in Finland in 2016.[9] Tabloid newspaper Iltalehti readers voted Saara Aalto as Finnish person of the year 2016.[10] Following the show, she was signed to both Sony Music UK and Finland.[11] In June 2017, Aalto announced via social media that she will be a judge on season two of X Factor Suomi. Four months later, Aalto announced she had left Sony Music for Warner Music Group, citing that her previous deal did not feel like the "right team." On 7 November 2017, it was announced that Aalto would represent Finland in the Eurovision Song Contest 2018.

Early life[edit]

Born in Oulunsalo, Finland, Aalto grew up in a musical family and focused on music already as a child and her piano teacher was pianist and pedagog Olga Maslak, born in Odessa, Ukraine.[12][13] Saara wrote her first song at the age of five. Her close relatives include painter and documentary director Eeli Aalto and magician Simo Aalto. In 1998, at the age of 11, she won the Kotka Maritime Festival song contest for children with one of her own compositions. Aalto also won the Charlotte Church[14] international singing competition, organized in US, in 2003 with her own composition.[15][16] Aalto represented Finland in the Golden Stag International Song Contest in Romania in 2004. She went to the Madetoja secondary school for music, where she graduated in 2005. After graduation, she moved to Helsinki to study music at the Sibelius Academy, and at the same time also studied singing in the Helsinki Pop & Jazz Conservatory.[17]

Music career[edit]

In the past few years Saara has been a sought after performer in concerts, galas, TV-shows and musicals. She has worked with several top orchestras and military bands and toured across Finland with her own band.[18] However, becoming an international singer, and singing in English, has always been Aalto's dream, and that is why she auditioned for The X Factor UK.[19][20][21]

Singing in many languages has been Aalto's passion since childhood[22] and she has performed to many international groups visiting Finland. One popular example is "Let it go" in 15 languages [23] that she made for one group of 20 different nationalities.[24] Aalto can sing in many languages, but she has studied English, Swedish, French, Japanese and Chinese.[25]

In 2007, she participated in Talent Suomi ("Talent Finland"), finishing in the top three.[26]

In addition to her singing career, Saara is also an accomplished actress, having starred as Dorothy and Phannee in the Finnish production of Wicked - The Musical and as Mary Magdalene in Jesus Christ Superstar.[27][28] From 2008 to 2011 she appeared in the Helsinki City Theatre musicals, first as Kelsi in High School Musical on Stage! and its second installment, and then in Wicked.[29]

Finnish Eurovision Song Contest selections (2011, 2016)[edit]

Saara Aalto took part on two separate occasions in the selection process in a bid to represent Finland in the Eurovision Song Contest. She participated in the qualifying rounds in Finland for Eurovision 2011 with her self-penned song "Blessed with Love", placing second to Paradise Oskar who went on to represent Finland with his song "Da Da Dam". She received 40.7% of the public televotes, compared to 46.7% for Oskar.[30] Aalto's recording was released as a single by Yume Records, a self-release record label she founded together with Teemu Roivainen in 2011.

Her second bid to represent Finland was for Eurovision Song Contest 2016 through the competition Uuden Musiikin Kilpailu where she sang another of her own compositions titled "No Fear", again placing second.[31] Although winning the public vote, she was disadvantaged with the judging vote going to the eventual winner Sandhja who went on to represent Finland with the song "Sing It Away".[32]

In an interview Aalto described her music.[6]

I call my music Epic Love Pop! I love dramatic and emotional music with a show feeling. I also want to bring love, joy and encouragement for everybody; be yourself and inspire others! I’ve studied piano since I was a little kid and through music schools, singing competitions, my career and concerts (in Finland and all over the world) I’ve gotten lots of experience and confidence to be who I am as an artist. (...) I’ve performed in musicals and big shows in Finland. (...) I’m happy to be versatile performer.

Saara Aalto is going to represent Finland in the Eurovision Song Contest 2018. The decisison was made by the Finnish national broadcaster Yle. Her song will be chosen through a renewed competition.

Success in China[edit]

Following her performance of "Blessed with Love" for qualification in Eurovision 2011, in December of the same year, she was involved in the Santa Claus Season's Greetings Song Contest, where she sang a Chinese (Mandarin) version of her Eurovision song "Blessed with Love" as "Ai De Zhu Fu".[33][34]

In November 2012 Aalto was guest vocalist at Robert Wells's highly successful show Rhapsody in Rock[35] at Shanghai Daning theatre.[36][37] And following a successful performance in Shanghai in May 2013, opening for Spanish tenor José Carreras and singing several songs in Chinese, Saara Aalto returned to the city to duet with tenor Han Peng at the Closing Ceremony of the Shanghai International Film Festival in June 2013 broadcast to over 800 million viewers in 10 countries.[27][38]

Finding great reception from Chinese audiences, in July 2013 Aalto went on to release a full album destined for Mainland China and other Chinese markets also titled Ai De Zhu Fu. On the album she performed nine of the album's 13 tracks in Mandarin language.

The Voice of Finland (2012)[edit]

Aalto participated in season one of The Voice of Finland. In the blind auditions, broadcast on 6 February 2012 on the Finnish commercial television channel Nelonen, she performed "Taking Chances" from Celine Dion with all four coaches, Elastinen, Lauri Tähkä, Paula Koivuniemi and Michael Monroe turning their chairs. She opted to be part of Team Monroe.

In the Battle Round on 17 February, she was confronted with team competitor Anna Inginmaa, both singing "True Colors". Coach Monroe opted for Aalto to go to the next round. In the live show on 23 March, she sang "Barracuda" and was saved by Monroe after failing to get enough votes from the public. She followed it up with the French language "Je suis malade" from Serge Lama and was safe after the public vote. In the semifinals with her rendition of "Over the Rainbow", she qualified for the finals held on 20 April where she sang "I'm Gonna Be Strong" from Frankie Laine and an original song titled "My Love". She placed second to winner Mikko Sipola.[39]

The X Factor UK (2016), Eurovision Song Contest 2018, and international recording deal[edit]

Aalto auditioned for the thirteenth UK series of The X Factor in 2016, singing a cover of Sia's "Chandelier", which earned her three yeses from the attending judges.[40] At the bootcamp, she performed "On the Radio" by Donna Summer and was sent through as part of the over-25s category with Sharon Osbourne as her mentor. At the six-chair challenge, she performed "I See Fire" by Ed Sheeran and was sent home by Osbourne who stated a lack of connection. However, after the crowd chanted to bring her back, Aalto was given a chance to perform Serge Lama's "Je Suis Malade", which caused the crowd to turn on her, while Nicole Scherzinger criticized her song choice stating "we ain't in France". Aalto was therefore asked to leave by Osbourne.

Aalto was brought back as Scherzinger's wildcard pick for the over-25s category and therefore went to judges' houses. She was chosen to proceed to the live shows after performing ABBA's "The Winner Takes It All". In week 1 of the live shows, Aalto finished in the bottom three after performing "Let It Go" and faced a sing-off with the duo Bratavio, where she performed "Alive" by Sia. Aalto was saved with only Louis Walsh voting to eliminate her, though praising her performance. The following week, she sang "River Deep – Mountain High" and finished again in the bottom three, performing "Run" by Snow Patrol in a sing-off with Freddy Parker. The result went to deadlock and Aalto was saved as she had the greater public vote. In week 3 she performed "It's Oh So Quiet" coming 2nd in the public vote, and in week 4 Aalto sang "Bad Romance", placing 3rd in the public vote. In week 5, Aalto finished in the bottom three for the third time after her rendition of "Sound of the Underground", but was saved by majority vote after performing "Who You Are" in a sing-off with the group Four of Diamonds. Her following performances were "No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)" in week 6 placing 2nd and "My Heart Will Go On" in week 7 again placing 2nd. In week 8, she sang "The Winner Takes It All" and a medley of "Diamonds Are Forever" and "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend", topping the public vote for the first time.[41] Following the eliminations of Relley C in week 3 and Honey G in week 8, Saara Aalto became Osbourne's last remaining act in the competition.

In the semifinals on 3 December, she sang a medley of "White Christmas" and "All I Want for Christmas Is You", and "Chandelier" as 2nd song, topping the vote again reaching the Final 3, where on 10 December she performed "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" and "Bohemian Rhapsody", the latter as a duet with Adam Lambert, again topping the public vote. With the elimination of the group 5 After Midnight she was in the Final 2 facing Matt Terry. In the Final on 11 December, she performed "It's Oh So Quiet" and "I Didn't Know My Own Strength". In the ensuing public vote, she placed as the runner-up to eventual winner Matt Terry with 40.4% of the votes.

In her press-conference on 20 December 2016, Aalto revealed that she works with the joint effort of ROAR Global and Global career management companies,[42] and that she has signed a five-album recording deal with Sony Music UK and Sony Music Finland.[43] In October 2017, Aalto announced she had left Sony Music for Warner Music Group. In a statement, she said: "I was honoured I was signed to Sony. But later I felt like they weren't the right team. When I met the people at Warner they were very excited about my style and making me into this big theatrical artist."[44] On 7 November 2017, it was announced that Aalto would represent Finland in the Eurovision Song Contest 2018.[45]

Personal life[edit]

Aalto had a nine-year relationship with singer Teemu Roivainen, but the couple broke up in 2013.[46] Aalto and Roivainen continued collaborating in music. Aalto later began a relationship with a female fan, personal trainer and life coach, Meri Sopanen.[47] They became engaged on their two-year anniversary in August 2016.[48][49] Aalto now identifies as a lesbian.[50][51][52]

Aalto and Sopanen moved to London in January 2017.[53] The idea to audition for The X Factor came from Sopanen.[47]

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

Title Details Peak chart positions
FIN
[54]
Blessed With Love
Enkeleitä – Angels
You Had My Heart 43
Ai De Zhu Fu
Tonight
(with Teemu Roivainen)

Singles[edit]

As lead artist[edit]

Year Title Album
2011 "Blessed with Love"[A] Blessed with Love
2013 "You Had My Heart" You Had My Heart
"Enkeleitä" Enkeleitä – Angels
2014 "Reach the Stars"[B] N/A
"You Raise Me Up"
(with Teemu Roivainen)
Tonight
2015 "Feel Vegas"
(with Teemu Roivainen featuring Big Spender)
2016 "No Fear"[C] N/A

As featured artist[edit]

Year Title Album
2015 "All I Ask of You" (Phantom of the Opera)
(Waltteri Torikka featuring Saara Aalto)
Sydän
2015 "Sydämesi tyhjä huone"
(Teemu Roivainen featuring Saara Aalto)
Sydämesi tyhjä huone

Filmography[edit]

Films[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2008 The Tale of Despereaux Princess Pea (voice) Finnish version
2010 Alice in Wonderland Alice (voice) Finnish version
2011 From Up on Poppy Hill Umi (voice) Finnish version
2012 Brave Soloist Finnish version
2012 Rise of the Guardians Tooth Fairy (voice) Finnish version
2013 Rölli ja kultainen avain (fi) singer, "Minne Menee, Mistä Tulee"
2013 Frozen Anna (voice) Finnish version
2015 Frozen Fever Anna (voice) Finnish version

Television series[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2011–present Bubble Guppies Molly (voice) Finnish version
2011–2014 Pokémon Iris (voice) Finnish version
2012–present Winx Club Musa (voice, since season 5) Finnish version
2015 Hey Duggee Norrie (voice) Finnish version
2015 Rocka-Bye Island Lee (voice) Finnish version
2016 K3 (nl; fr) Kylie (voice) Finnish version
2016/17 CharliSJHDeeleyNat TV Presenter

Reality television[edit]

Year Title Role
2007 Talent Suomi (series 1) Contestant (2nd)
2011 Euroviisukarsinta 2011 Participant (2nd)
2012 The Voice of Finland (season 1) Contestant (2nd)
2016 Uuden Musiikin Kilpailu Participant (2nd)
2016 The X Factor (UK, series 13) Contestant (2nd)
2018 X Factor Suomi (season 2) Judge

Awards and achievements[edit]

Year Award Category Results Ref.
2016 Iltalehti Finnish Person of the Year Won [10]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Selection process for Finnish entry to Eurovision Song Contest 2011
  2. ^ To commemorate Chinese New Year 2014 (Year of the Horse) (song in English and Mandarin)
  3. ^ Selection process for Finnish entry to Eurovision Song Contest 2016

Sources[edit]

  1. ^ Nimimerkki. "Saara Aalto". Anna.fi. Retrieved 4 September 2013. 
  2. ^ 10 December 2016 X Factor: Bohemian Rhapsody
  3. ^ "Andrea Bocelli Setlist at Hartwall Areena, Helsinki, Finland - Tour: A Passion for Life". 25 January 2015. Retrieved 3 March 2017. 
  4. ^ "Jose Carreras Concert with Saara Aalto 2 May 2013 Shanghai Daning Theatre". Retrieved 3 March 2017. 
  5. ^ "Concert in Shanghai: Robert Wells - Rhapsody In Rock". 26 October 2012. Retrieved 16 February 2017. 
  6. ^ a b Tony Rojas (29 January 2016). "Saara Aalto: "I want my song to be the happy funeral of fear, where people are dancing together!" (Finnish semifinalist – Exclusive Interview)". www.esc-plus.com. Retrieved 3 February 2017. 
  7. ^ "Joka neljäs suomalainen katsoi Saara Aallon finaalitaistelua X Factorissa". hs.fi. 11 December 2016. Retrieved 19 February 2017. 
  8. ^ "25 % of Finns (1,324,000) watched @saaraalto and @TheXFactor on Sunday evening. @subsuomi #XFactor #xfactorfinal". finnpanel.fi. 11 December 2016. Retrieved 19 February 2017. 
  9. ^ David Johnson, Megan McCluskey (22 December 2016). "See the Most Googled Person in Each Country in 2016". time.com. Retrieved 1 March 2017. 
  10. ^ a b Miia Vatka (31 December 2016). "Iltalehden lukijat valitsivat: Saara Aalto on vuoden suomalainen!". Iltalehti. Retrieved 3 February 2017. 
  11. ^ Darvill. "X Factor 2016: Saara Aalto CONFIRMS record deal with an album out next year". TellyMix. Retrieved 22 December 2016. 
  12. ^ Juha Sutela (14 October 2002). "Unohtumaton ilta Olgan kunniaksi". kaleva.fi. Retrieved 8 March 2017. 
  13. ^ Kimmo Pihlajamaa, Yrjö Mikkonen and Sari Hourula. "Oulun musiikkielämän grand old lady". kaleva.fi. Retrieved 8 March 2017. 
  14. ^ Saara Aalto (8 March 2016). "I wanted to learn to sing like Charlotte Church". facebook. Retrieved 12 March 2017. 
  15. ^ Josh Darvill (9 December 2016). "X Factor 2016: Saara Aalto and Charlotte Church share a surprise connection". TellyMix. Retrieved 8 March 2017. 
  16. ^ Satu Koho (8 May 2008). "Mitä mietti maailmanvalloittaja Saara Aalto uransa alussa? Forum24 haastatteli laulajaa keväällä 2008". forum24.fi. Retrieved 8 March 2017. 
  17. ^ http://www.saaraaalto.com/bio/
  18. ^ "BIO". Retrieved 16 February 2017. 
  19. ^ Josh Darvill (7 March 2017). "X Factor's Saara Aalto says the UK is her 'new home' as performs on live tour". tellymix.co.uk. Retrieved 7 March 2017. 
  20. ^ kari (17 December 2016). "This is the reason why Saara wanted to go to X Factor in England. Saara wants to sing English music and her goal is to achieve international musical success what she has always dreamed of". Retrieved 7 March 2017. 
  21. ^ "The girl band that changed my life was Spice Girls. When I was 10 years old I saw Spice Girls. Then I called my friend and was like - we need to have a band. That's how I started to compose and sing in English". X Factor. 5 November 2016. Retrieved 7 March 2017. 
  22. ^ "Tästä kaikki alkoi: Saara Aallon perhe avasi kotivideoarkistonsa HS:lle – ne näyttävät kasvun pikkutytöstä X Factor -tähdeksi". hs.fi. 5 November 2016. Retrieved 27 February 2017. 
  23. ^ "Saara Aalto - Let It Go (Frozen) Multi-Language, 15 languages". saaraaalto.com. 4 September 2016. Retrieved 27 February 2017. 
  24. ^ Huw Morris (13 November 2016). "EXCLUSIVE - X FACTOR'S SAARA AALTO ON PERFORMING, THE LGBT COMMUNITY AND THE FUTURE". ATTITUDE MAGAZINE. Retrieved 15 March 2017. 
  25. ^ "The X Factor Backstage with TalkTalk Saara Aalto shows off her language skills!". 23 October 2016. Retrieved 27 February 2017. 
  26. ^ "Saara Aalto konsertoi Helsingissä » Umami". Umami.fi. Retrieved 4 September 2013. 
  27. ^ a b "Finnish Pop Star Saara Aalto To Perform At The Award & Closing Ceremony For The Shanghai International Film Festival". top40-charts.com. Retrieved 4 September 2013. 
  28. ^ "Saara Aalto pestattu Maria Magdalenaksi Lahteen". hs.fi. 1 June 2012. Retrieved 3 March 2017. 
  29. ^ "Kuvat: Muistatko vielä? Näin Saara Aalto nousi julkisuuteen". mtv.fi. 11 December 2016. Retrieved 3 March 2017. 
  30. ^ "Finland sends Paradise Oskar to Düsseldorf!". Retrieved 6 February 2017. 
  31. ^ "Ensimmäiset UMK-finalistit valittu – onko joku heistä Suomen euroviisuedustaja?". Yle. 6 February 2016. Retrieved 7 February 2016. 
  32. ^ "UMK 2016: FINLAND REVEALS FULL RESULTS OF TELEVOTE AND JURIES". wiwibloggs.com. Retrieved 6 February 2017. 
  33. ^ "Chinese listeners to vote for best Finnish SANTA CLAUS SEASON'S GREETINGS SONG 2012". Finland.cn. Retrieved 3 March 2017. 
  34. ^ "Negative voitti joululaulukilpailun - Suomen suurlähetystö, Peking -Suomen pääkonsulaatti, Shanghai : Ajankohtaista". Finland.cn. Retrieved 4 September 2013. 
  35. ^ "Rhapsody in Rock: Startsidan". Retrieved 3 March 2017. 
  36. ^ "Robert Wells - "Rhapsody In Rock" Shanghai Edition with guests Saara Aalto, Jia Ruhan & Chen Jun". centerstagechina.com. Retrieved 3 March 2017. 
  37. ^ "Saara Aalto: 'What if you would sing in China?'". dreamdo. 1 January 2012. Retrieved 15 March 2017. 
  38. ^ Heini Kangasluoma (23 June 2013). "Saara Aalto Kiinassa: Rankan alun jälkeen maailmantähtien eteen". mtv.fi. Retrieved 7 March 2017. 
  39. ^ "Voice of Finland: Riitaa laulajista! | Viihde". Iltalehti.fi. Retrieved 4 September 2013. 
  40. ^ Rahn, Florian (29 August 2016). ""That's How You Do It!" Finland's Saara Aalto Nails X Factor UK Audition". wiwibloggs.com. Wiwibloggs. 
  41. ^ "Voting stats 2016 revealed". ITV. 11 December 2016. Retrieved 22 December 2016. 
  42. ^ "Saara Aalto kertoi tulevaisuuden suunnitelmistaan lehdistötilaisuudessa". mtv.fi. 20 December 2016. Retrieved 14 March 2017. 
  43. ^ Harp, Justin (20 December 2016). "X Factor's Saara Aalto lands a huge record deal". Digital Spy. United Kingdom: Hearst Corporation. Retrieved 20 December 2016. 
  44. ^ Mitchell, Bea (25 October 2017). "Saara Aalto leaves Simon Cowell for a new record deal". Digital Spy. United Kingdom: Hearst Corporation. Retrieved 25 October 2017. 
  45. ^ Halpin, Chris (7 November 2017). "Saara Aalto is Finland's Eurovision 2018 act...and will sing three songs during the UMK final". wiwibloggs.com. Wiwibloggs. 
  46. ^ "Me Naiset: Saara Aalto erosi miehestään 9 yhteisen vuoden jälkeen". Ilta-Sanomat. 2 May 2013. 
  47. ^ a b "Saara Aallon Meri-rakas avoimessa haastattelussa: Ensisuudelma tapahtui minun aloitteestani". mtv.fi. 16 October 2016. Retrieved 3 February 2017. 
  48. ^ Adams, William Lee (4 October 2016). "X FACTOR REVEALS SAARA AALTO'S FEAR OF NEEDLES…AS HEAT MAGAZINE REPORTS ON HER ENGAGEMENT". Wiwibloggs. 
  49. ^ Douglas, Nicole (22 November 2016). "X Factor's Saara Aalto exclusively reveals the moment her girlfriend proposed: 'For me, it was a surprise!'". OK!. 
  50. ^ "X Factor's Saara Aalto was one of Finland's first open lesbian artists and is proud to be an inspiration". Mirror. 
  51. ^ "Sanonut et ekoja naisartisteja parisuhteessa naisen kans,niitä ei paljon julkisuudessa ole. Pitää olla varovainen sanavalintojen kans..media". twitter. 16 December 2016. Retrieved 5 February 2017. 
  52. ^ Butterworth, Benjamin (23 December 2016). "Saara Aalto opens up about her sexuality as she poses in stunning new photo shoot: 'I've always known gender doesn't matter for me. But now, being with a woman, it's hard to imagine going back to men.'". PinkNews. Retrieved 15 March 2017. 
  53. ^ "Moving to London". Saara Aalto. 26 January 2017. Retrieved 3 February 2017. 
  54. ^ "Discography Saara Aalto". Finnish Charts Portal. Hung Medien. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Norma John
with "Blackbird"
Finland in the Eurovision Song Contest
2018
Succeeded by
[to be determined]