Tarja Turunen was born in Kitee, Finland, on August 17, 1977. Having studied music since the age of six, she moved to the city of Kuopio at 18 to study at the Sibelius Academy, one of Europe's largest musical universities. While attending Sibelius Academy, Tarja met fellow student and future band mate Tuomas Holopainen. In 1996, Holopainen invited her to join in an acoustical project he was forming, and the symphonic metal legend Nightwish was born.
Having achieved great success with Nightwish over the next nine years, Tarja was asked to leave the band on October 21st, 2005 in an open letter from the rest of the band. Citing Tarja's recent "changed attitude" and her seemingly increasing financial expectations, the rest of the band felt that she no longer fit in with Nightwish's future. In another open letter response, Tarja denied any change in her attitude toward the band. In February, 2006, Tarja's husband, Marcelo Cabuli, posted a letter to all of Tarja's fans that any questions about her leaving Nightwish and her future musical aspirations were to be directed at him, effectively becoming her spokesman. He has defended her on several occasions, stating that money has never been, and never will be, a driving force in his wife's musical career.
After performing several concert events in Finland in the winter of 2005 and early 2006, Tarja began production of her first solo album. The album, My Winter Storm, was released in November of 2007 to overwhelming accolades. The album went gold in Finland on the day it hit the shelves, and eventually reached the number one spot of Finnish charts and achieved platinum status in Finland, as well as gold in Russia, a first for Tarja.
This album is a wonderfully done piece, perfectly highlighting Tarja's angelic opera voice. A perfect blend of opera, classical, and metal, the album has a definitely unique sound. It does not sound like Nightwish, as most of the instrumentation is not as hard, instead going for more of a melodic new-age sound with traditional roots. Often sounding like something Hollywood composer Danny Elfman would have produced, the heavy use of orchestral elements and choir make the perfect frame for Tarja's vocals.
Many may disagree with me here, but I think splitting up was the best thing for both Tarja and Nightwish. Nightwish's music always sounded spectacular with Tarja leading, but her mid-soprano voice sometimes clashed with the hard metal sound. Since moving on, Tarja has managed to craft a unique sound that perfectly compliments her voice, while Nightwish managed to find a high soprano in Anette Olzon that perfectly compliments their unique sound.