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Värttinä was formed in 1983 by two sisters, Sari (born 1967) and Mari Kaasinen, from Rääkkylä. Guided by their mother, they had performed poems from the 1970s as a group named Tsupukat. After the group ceased in 1983, the girls established Värttinä, which they entered into a youth arts event and made their way into the finals. The following year they changed poem reading into singing, and this time the group won that same competition.

Sari Kaasinen had become the leading member of Värttinä, and children in Rääkkylä were eager to join the band; as its biggest, the group accompanied 21 children. When the group finally couldn't be made any bigger, Sari established a band called Sirmakka for the youngest ones wanting to join.

In the beginning of 1987 Värttinä was selected as the "Ensemble of the Year" in Kaustinen. Their first record, Värttinä, was recorded in the following spring. Instruments used were kantele, acoustic guitar, double bass, violin, accordion, saxophone, flute, and tin whistle. They gained more publicity and, according to a guess by Sari Kaasinen, made over a hundred performances in one year.

Their next album Musta lindu was released in the summer of 1989. At the start of nineties Sari wanted to focus on a solo career. The remaining Kaasinen sisters, Janne Lappalainen, Kirsi Kähkönen and Minna Rautiainen deceided to go on as new New Värttinä. in 2006.In the beginning of the 1990s, the whole aforementioned group had moved to Helsinki and started training in premises of the Sibelius Academy. Their ‘ debut’ Oi Dai was released in the spring of 1991. They had now formed their style, which consisted of strong and energetic female singing, music pieces based on the Finno-Ugric music tradition, and a band playing acoustic instruments. The style they created, mixing folk music into rock, jazz and popular music, was unheard of before.

They kept on releasing albums with traditional material until their sixth album Kokko which was written entirely by the band itself. In 2001 Värttinä's line-up was changed again., the band started its "third era" with the singer trio Kaasinen-Aho-Virtanen. The first release with this line-up was Iki in 2003, when the band also celebrated its 20th anniversary.

Later in the same year Värttinä was invited to compose music for the The Lord of the Rings theatrical adaptation, based on the book by J. R. R. Tolkien. Värttinä composed music for two and a half years together with A.R. Rahman. The musical, premiered in Toronto in 2006 and moved to London in May 2007. In January 2006 Värttinä released their eleventh album Miero. The album was the band's first one to be made under Real World Records, established by Peter Gabriel.

On the web:

- Värttinä's website: www.varttina.com

What do we think:


DB: When you are accustomed to mainstream pop the sounds produced by Värttinä will sound very alien to you. At least it did to me when first hearing the girls somewhere in 1992. To me it was a random collection of syllabels and verbes. Yet somehow the group made a coherent structure out of it that indeed ressambled something of song. Since then i've encountered more groups and singers like that and the music almost sound normal to me today.

If you like this, you probably like.. / european counterparts

Mitsou (Hungary)

Mari Boine (Norway)


- Seleniko - 1992

- iki - 2003

Further listening: Värttinä (1987) ; Musta Lindu (1989) ; Oi Dai (1991) ; Aitara (1994)
Kokko (1996) ; Vihma (1998) ; Ilmatar (2000) ;Miero (2006)

♪♪♪♪♪ = outstanding album, an absolute must-have
♪♪♪♪ = great album, highly recomended
♪♪♪ = nice album
♪♪ = be careful, requires listening before buying
♪ = best to be avoided


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