Saara Aalto: Finland’s songbird takes on the world
Among the colorful singers that battle it out in the yearly Eurovision, one that recently caught our attention was the Finnish singer Saara Aalto, who is out and proud as a lesbian.
While the US isn’t a really big fan of the Eurovision Song Contest, Europe is going ga-ga over it the way we use to do with American Idol.
Representing her country Finland, the 30-year old Aalto– who is known for her eccentric displays of fashion– competed in Eurovision this year with her song, “Monsters.”
Though she qualified for the finals on May 8, she finished second last.
Saara Aalto: Born to be a songbird
Born on 2 May 1987 in Oulunsalo, Aalto grew up in a musically-inclined family, with close relatives like painter and documentary director Eeli Aalto and magician Simo Aalto.
Aalto wrote her first song at the age of five, and won the Kotka Maritime Festival song contest at the age of 11 in 1998 for one of her original compositions.
In 2004, she represented her country in the Golden Stag International Song Contest in Romania. The year after, she graduated from the Madetoja Secondary School for Music.
She went to Helsinki to study music at the Sibelius Academy while also studying singing in the Helsinki Pop & Jazz Conservatory.
Saara Aalto: Too flamboyant for Finland
As she gained in popularity, Aalto developed her singing prowess and ability to sing different languages– primarily English– even as she dreamt of singing internationally.
She tried to join Eurovision twice as Finland’s representative– in 2011 and 2016– but she didn’t make it, losing to Paradise Oskar and Sandhja, respectively.
She later participated in season one of The Voice of Finland in 2012 and made it to the finals. But she placed second to winner Mikko Sipola.
She tried out for the 13th UK series of The X Factor in 2016, with Simon Cowell saying “That’s how you do it” during her audition.
She said that it was only in UK that she felt at home, telling PinkNews that: In Finland I was too theatrical, too flamboyant”. In Finland they like neighbourhood girl artists– I wasn’t like that.”
Saara Aalto: A lesbian pop star
Aalto is definitely not your garden-variety pop star. While she dated men before, she identified as a lesbian in 2016 with her girlfriend, Meri Sopanen.
“I am very proud to be lesbian and I feel very much like I am lesbian, totally,” she said.
She related that she knew was into other women even from a young age, adding that she felt that she never really struggled with who she was: “My sexuality was never an issue.”
She admitted that she suffered from career-related stress: “I had a burnout when I was younger, I was working so much, but now I’m wiser and I’m older and I want to balance my life>’
Currently, she’s engaged to Meri. She proposed to her after Finnish lawmakers ruled against repealing the marriage equality law.
Aalto said, ““Me and my fiancé are really similar, we are quite free spirited. We want to get married and we are like soul mates, it’s unbelievable. But we also know nothing in life will stay the same.”
Check out Aalto’s video of her single, “Monsters,” below. You can also see her performance during the recent Eurovision.