Finnish activist Arja Saijonmaa is one of Scandinavia's leading artists and singers, and has sold more than two million albums. She has also starred in movies and musicals specially written for her. Ms. Saijonmaa has always had a strong commitment to human rights issues, starting her international career by giving voice to the Greek composer and freedom fighter Mikis Theodorakis on his world tour in the 1970s.
In 1994, Arja Saijonmaa initiated and organized a major televised peace concert for UNESCO in Oslo, where Yasir Arafat and Shimon Perez appeared on stage together with 200 Palestinian, Israeli and Norwegian children singing "We Want Peace." She co-hosted this event with Harry Belafonte. Ms. Saijonmaa was appointed Goodwill Ambassador for UNHCR in 1987, and has subsequently visited over 40 refugee camps. She has also done several documentary films on refugees, and published many articles and music albums about her experiences.
Sensuous new recording with Arja in duet with her pianist Petri Somer
Arja chose a church in Italy as the venue for her new CD featuring songs of peace and freedom. Her repertoire is taken from the tradition of poetic songs of freedom, peace and love, a tradition that Arja champions. Half of her songs have never before been recorded by Arja, the others are her very personal favourites from her concert repertoire, including an exquisite version of "Jag vill tacka livet" (I want to thank life) and Mikael Wiehe's "Det finns en värld" (There is a world). KKV and producer Erik Hillesstad invited Arja to make this recording in a special setting. The production has been stripped down to the bare necessities, giving the listener the full power of Arja's voice. The only accompaniment is by her classically trained accompanist Petri Somer, who has been with her for some years now.