La dolce vita, life has been so sweet and wonderful.... so she sung in Lausanne 1989 Eurovision and scored 7th place, one of Finland's rare successes against all odds and changed her career. "It was a jackpot" she tells to Helsingin Sanomat in an interview this May.
"I was so nervous, I felt I am about to die" she recalls. "There's a photo taken just before going on stage ans I look like a standing mummy. In a post-performance photo I look like a 8-year-old schoolgirl who managed to sing pretty and gets praise from her mom" she laughs.
Anneli Saaristo was no stranger to great public in Finland before La Dolce Vita, but Eurovision and doing well opened her new doors and major success. Her album sold gold and she got gigs as many as she could do, she was all over the press. It was a question of faith she says now. Had she failed and done bad her career might have been over, like so many other artists back in the day.
She looks back Eurovision with joy and says she only gained from it. In 1989 things were different and she was sent off to Lausanne pretty much alone with her backing group and conductor. Her friend who acted as her hairdresser paid her own trip and for the rest she had to do pretty much all alone. She says she's happy to see the artists today get more support and back up.
La Saaristo tells she's a part-time Diva. When she's on stage she wants to take care of her hair, make up and dress up accordingly. When singing to war veterans she likes to wear blue and white in honor of the colors of Finland for example, and she's known for flashy dresses and not so sober looks on stage. "It's respecting the audience" she says. "I come from a very poor family, I didn't have many dresses in my childhood". But in private she's like any of us. "I can go to market with bad hair and go shopping without make up. It'd be crazy to put on make up just to go and buy milk! Some people though seem to have a twisted idea of artist's life. I do my own taxes and stuff. I live a normal life like anybody. Being artist doesn't mean one's life is glamourous and fabulous and one is rich!"
She has been performing for 50 years now and still wants to find something new to all her tours, and she's also known for her humourous speaks between her most loved songs like Kuutamon poika, Appelsiinipuita aavikkoon and Evakon laulu. Singing those she becomes also a storyteller. She gets into her songs so much when singing that her concerts that can last for hours are emotionally draining for her.
At 30 she had to choose between family and kids or career. She chose career. "Some people manage to have both, I couldn't." She doesn't quite understand people who for example freeze their eggs for a later better time to have kids. "It's an attempt to control life, but everyone can do whatever they want. Life will slap you in the face later then perhaps". She's still waiting for a man to come into her life but says men are afraid of powerful strong women. "It's infurieting. Men want to protect women but what's there to protect of a woman who can protect herself? But people have a need to love. Love is love and it's always there. I see it in elderly homes where I often sing. Life is a gift. Every second counts. And I will sing as long as I feel I shine. When I am too tired to shine I quit."
She declares herself as an Eurovision fan and has been following since 1961 when Finland debuted. "Today there are too many singing competitions, Idols and all, but Eurovision still has its charm, it's unique and worthy. Past year's I have been stunned by Conchita Wurst and Salvador Sobral. He just walked there in his oversized jacket, sung his great Portuguese love song with no thrills or show and won!" As usual, she gathered with friends to watch the show this year, too, with good food and drinks, and points scores ready - just like any common fan!
Anneli Saaristo in Euroviisut:
1978 Sinun kanssasi, sinua ilman (4th)
1984 Sä liian paljon vaadit (3rd)
1989 La Dolce vita (1st) -> 7th
1989 Oi, äiti maa (3rd)
Besides Eurovision she was awarded as The Best female artist in Knokke festival 1983, in 1985 she won the Rostock festival Menschen und Meer, and in 1987 she came 2nd in Dresden festival.
She has released 11 studio albums between 1980 and 2012, sung soundtracks and acted both on stage and in films.
Check out also these covers: Jos joskus (POR84), Päättyneet juhlat (ESP85), Avaruuteen (POL97), Yöt ilman sinua (E io penso a te), Tämä yö (Con te partirò), Elämämme paras aika (I migliori anni della nostra vita), Neidonryöstö (Euroviisut 1976/4th), Aamulla vielä rakkaani näin (Euroviisut 1978/2nd)