Munich – Tuija Komi, From Munich to New York as a Jazz Singer

Tuija, please introduce yourself?

My name is Tuija Komi and I come from Finland –“the land of the thousand lakes” or as I like to say “from the land of the midnight sun”. Now I live in Munich in Germany. I moved to Germany for just one year and now it has been 18 years! I have studied Business Administration in Finland and then I specialized in Export Business between Finland and German speaking countries. So I wanted to get some working experience also on-site, in Germany.
My family, mother, father and two younger sisters live in Finland. I have a German boy-friend.

When and why did you start playing/singing – and which instruments do you play?

I have been singing as long as I can remember, the usual stuff like at the school the solos in the choir in all possible events that we celebrated at school. I took part as a teenager in singing competitions and even won a couple of. However I did not figure it out that singing could be more for me, meaning studying it “seriously” and making it to a profession.
For many years I have been singing in bands, first in Finland and then in Germany. In a soul band in Frankfurt, or in a jazz combo with eight musicians. I also had my own band.
It was in 2006 after I had resigned from Siemens and was “re-starting” my life when I thought “it’s now or never”. So I decided to go for singing. The first thing was to study singing. I was lucky to be accepted at the music college in Frankfurt to study jazz and pop voice, in the age of 37 years! I got more hungry in learning so I studied more pop music and became an “acknowledged teacher by the government” for music in a music school.

What was the first tune(s) you learned?

I do not remember the very first songs in the first classes at school but as I started to sing in a professional band in early nineties in Finland, I learned with Ella Fitzgerald (singing to her LPs) many many jazz standards such as “The lady is a tramp”, “Girl from Ipanema” and many more –I still sing some of those songs.

Is your family musical? Describe your family member’s musical interests and abilities.

My grandfather played accordion and sang a little and my mum inherited it from him. She took us to piano lessons as we were kids. She saved the money and bought a piano for us at home.

Which famous musicians do you admire? Why?

Ella was my absolute queen of jazz for the first years. I like her wonderful voice and her charming stage presence –everyone remembers Ella scatting! From the current star jazz vocalists I like Kurt Elling and Dianne Reeves. They both have great voices and technique and fun when performing –that is very important. I have always liked soul and funk, Stevie Wonder is a multitalented who I admire a lot. I have been lucky to get to know Dusk Goykovic, who is a Serbian world-star trumpeter and composer living in Munich. He has been a mentor to me since a couple of years. I have written lyrics to his beautiful compositions –one is on my new album. Another one is written, hopefully more to follow.
There is so much good music in the world and great musicians, who I would like to mentione and honor that it would be a very long list …

What are your fondest musical memories? In your house? In your neighborhood or town? Write songs/What are you own musical ambitions?

You’re never “done” as a singer and so I would like to visit master classes by great singers to learn new things and to develop myself further. I am also teaching so that is very important to stay up-to-date.

I have started writing my own songs and I would like to have more time for that and to write more songs. Also I would like to be able to play piano better. So many dreams…

Have you been in competitions? Any prizes?

I was about my twenties as I won a couple of competitions in Finland. As I started singing full-time I was already too old for competitions as they are for YOUNG people. The age limit is usually 25. I won the second prize in the international competition for Female Jazz Vocalists called “Lady Summertime” in 2000 in Finland.

Where do you perform in public? Describe those occasions? Concerts, radio, TV?

I do concerts in jazz and concert venues and festivals. We have played in Finland, Germany, Austria, Italy, Portugal, Spain and New York.
We also play at corporate events and I like to sing in the churches for the wedding ceremonies, just “a cappella”.
My new album “something” has been presented on the radio in some shows and interviews as well as in jazz press and newspapers. It has got good reviews and I am so happy about that.
The CD has been released in April this year by GLM Music Munich and distributed into Austria, Belgium, England, Finland, France, Germany, Switzerland and even to Japan! It’s world-wide available for online download at iTunes, music load and Amazon.

I am looking forward to see what the press will write about it in New York…
The CD release in New York is on Monday 7th October at the ZINC BAR, a fantastic jazz venue with an authentic atmosphere on Manhattan in New York. I have a great band with musicians straight from New York with me on the stage.
The address is 82 West 3rd Street (btw Thompson & Sullivan) in Greenwich Village New York. For reservations phone: 212 477 ZINC.
I would be excited to share this thrilling event with Euro Circle members in NYC.

How do you balance your music with other obligations – mate, children?

As you have made your passion to your profession it is so difficult to separate these things. You’re the one and same person, it is IN you. It can be just before falling asleep that you get a good idea, it could be a song (this usually happens in the nights and I can’t sleep. Then I move to my piano and try to play it quietly without awakening the neighbors). However it is important to get some distance from the passion too, to reload your “creative reservoir”. I do this by traveling and spending time in the nature.

Do you spend time every year in Finland? I guess I am asking also would you prefer staying here in Germany no matter what (If yes or no, why…)

At least once a year I have to get to Finland. It is so wonderful there in the summer. The best thing for me is to go to sauna and to swim in the lake next to it I grew up. It is so wonderful there; I love the peace and the space.

Could you share with us how you first found out about EuroCircle?

It must have been (you) Kaisa, who I first contacted. I was coming to visit New York and then you asked me to get in touch with Alexandra. She asked me to co-host one event which I was very happy to do.

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Contact: info(at)tuijakomi(dot)de
Mobile phone: +49 170 2283 720.