Katri Helena

Today the second-best-selling female solo artist in her home country after Madonna, orchestra-backed Finnish pop singer Katri Helena (born August 17th, 1945 in Tohmajärvi) has had a lengthy, illustrious career spanning more than four decades. Debuting in 1963 with “Poikien kuvat”, she found success with her follow-up single, “Puhelinlangat laulaa”, which later appeared on her debut album, 1964’s Vaalea valloittaja (Blonde Conqueror). The increasing chart success of Helena’s ensuing albums enabled her to jump from label to label, and by 1972, she had signed to Scandia, with whom she would remain for years to come. She secured her first gold-certified album in Finland the following year with Kun kohdattiin, an achievement which she matched with a further five consecutive albums, including the platinum successes Paloma Blanca (1975) and Lady Love (1976). In 1978, Helena composed the popular Christmas song “Joulumaa”, and in 1979, she broadened her international appeal by participating in the Eurovision Song Contest, in which she placed fourteenth with the song “Katson sineen taivaan”. Off the back of a prolific period in the 1980s, her 1992 album Anna mulle tähtitaivas marked a career high, going double platinum in her home country and earning her a Erikois-Emma Award. A year later, she returned to Eurovision with the entry “Tule luo”, coming seventeenth. Continuing to release albums periodically in the 21st century, she notably teamed up with fellow national icons Paula Koivuniemi, Lea Laven and Marion Rung to form the supergroup Leidit Lavalla, who released a self-titled LP in 2000. Her legacy has since continued to grow: in 2007, she was awarded a Pro Finlandia medal; in 2011, a musical play about her life entitled Sinivalkoinen ääni hit theatres; and in 2014, a street was named after her in her hometown.

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