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Carola Christina Standertskjöld-Liemola (March 23, 1941 – November 12, 1997), professionally known as Carola, was a Finnish jazz and pop singer. Her style was partially inspired by American jazz singers of the 1950s. Simultaneously, it was in the spirit of the modal jazz scene going down in Europe in the 1960s. Mostly, Carola's jazz repertoire consisted in idiosyncratic versions of American jazz songs in English, while her most famous jazz song "The Flame" was an original composition by Esa Pethman and the lyrics by the singer herself. As the vocalist for Esa Pethman's jazz quartet and Hazy Osterwald's sextet in the early 1960s, Carola made fame in Finland and Swedenmarker, and toured Polandmarker, Czechoslovakiamarker, and Switzerlandmarker. Her most significant jazz recording to date is a jazz session with the Heikki Sarmanto Trio from 1966 which the Finnish Music Information Centre considers among the original blueprints of Finnish jazz. Carola's recordings have been credited for her accosting tone and the groovy approach of her supporting orchestras, co-produced by the singer. In late 1960s and early 1970s, she performed in nine languages and a wide variety of styles, including chanson, schlager, Latin, rock'n'roll, and soul. After her death in Alzheimer's disease in 1997, Carola's music was revived in 2004 with two Best of albums and Carola & Heikki Sarmanto Trio reaching the Finnish charts.


Carola Christina Standertskjöld was born to a family, who left the harsh Finnish post-war conditions and settled themselves in Switzerlandmarker. From a very young age, Carola took interest in learning foreign languages. Later, her family moved to Spain, where Carola's first public jazz performance took place. From the same period, she interested herself in the French chansons, which she performed at school parties and small occasions, accompanying herself on the acoustic guitar.

Jazz career (1962–1966)

Returning to Finland, Carola was spotted by the brothers Esa and Anssi Pethman, leaders of a jazz quartet, which was popular in Finland and Swedenmarker in 1962. As the lead singer of the Pethman's quartet, Carola made some fame in Polandmarker and Czechoslovakiamarker in 1963 and released her first track in Finland. This was the Jewish folk song "Hava nagila", published by the RCA as the B-side of Laila Halme's version of "Telstar".

After leaving Pethman's quartet, Carola became the vocalist for the Swiss Hazy Osterwald Sextet. During the year 1964, she toured the Central European scene, including performances in television programs. Returing to Finland in 1965, Carola released a single in German, "Warum Willst Du Das Alles Vergessen". In the same year, she performed with a back-up band The Boys. They recorded mostly cover versions of American songs, including the Rolling Stones' "The Last Time" and Skeeter Davis' "The End of the World". Carola starred both as a singer and the leading actress in the musical television movie "The Cold Old Days", with the film winning the Golden Rose of the Montreaux Film Festival. Her performances in the film included a cover of Manos Hadjidakis's song "All Alone Am I" with the French lyrics composed by Carola herself. In 1966, Carola started performing jazz music again. As the vocalist of Heikki Sarmanto Trio, she gave a number of concerts in Finland and recorded a session in the studios of YLE on 5 June, 1966. YLE considered the material as uncommercial, aired the tracks once on the Finnish radio and shelved them.

Pop career (1967–1975)

Carola's popularity in Finland peaked with the songs "Hunajainen", "Kielletyt leikit", "Agua de Beber", "Rakkauden jälkeen", "Jerusalem", "Mä lähden stadiin", and the traditional Finnish song "Herrojen kanssa pellon laidassa". She also covered 3 winning songs from the Eurovision Song Contest ("La La La" 1968, "Un banc, un arbre, une rue" 1971, "Après Toi" 1972). In 1969, Carola tried out rhythm & blues, recording a television video of Aretha Franklin's Chain of Fools. The tongue-in-cheek choreography by Heikki Värtsi included girl group dancing and Carola whipping a man in a cave. Her rhythm & blues covers continued with the television videos of Elaine Brown's "Seize the Time" and "The End of Silence" (in Finnish as "Sanaton hiljaisuus").

Retirement (1975–1997)

In the mid 1970s, Carola tired of living constantly in the public eye, so she retired from music industry and concentrated on the work in her husband's grocery store. Throughout the 1970s, she made selected appearances at jazz clubs in Helsinki, including performances with the UMO Jazz Orchestra. Carola made a comeback in 1980 by publishing the Latin style album Maria, Maria, receiving a golden record certificate in Finland. After that, she still refused to appear to audiences. In 1985, Carola was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. In 1987, Carola gave an exclusive concert with the UMO Jazz Orchestra and two years later, a concert with the pianist Iiro Rantala. In the early 1990s, she performed alone at a few charity concerts. After her long battle with the disease, Carola died on 12 November 1997 in Kirkkonummimarker.


On stage, Carola used to devote herself totally to singing and live within the music, usually oblivious of her audience. The Finnish public usually reacted on her concentrated act, accusing her of being drunk. Carola enjoyed being on stage, but after her shows, she usually felt depressed by and unsatisfied with her voice and performance.

Jazz singer

Carola's accosting tone was supported by the groovy approach of her orchestras. Partially, the style was inspired by American jazz singers of the 1950s. Simultaneously, it was in the spirit of the modal jazz scene going down in Europe in the 1960s. Mostly, Carola's jazz repertoire consisted in idiosyncratic versions of American jazz songs. Examples include "Just Give Me Time" by Francy Boland and Jimmy Woode, "So Long, Big Time" by Dory Langdon and Harold Arlen, and "Lonely Woman" by Margo Guryan and Ornette Coleman. Carola's most famous jazz song was the swinging "The Flame", composed and arranged by Esa Pethman and lyrics by Carola herself.

Pop singer

Utilizing her international experience, Carola performed in nine languages, including Finnish, Swedish, German, French, Italian, English, and Spanish. She interpreted chanson, schlager, jazz, blues, soul, and folk music.

Personal life

Carola felt exhausted by the attention of the Finnish press at her private life. Therefore, she did not use to read newspapers. Carola's favourite free time activities were various physical exercises, including walking, yachting, and driving. Her mileage was usually 5,000 km/month. Carola admitted consuming "a fair deal" of alcoholic beverages in her youth, quitting later in her life. She smoked 2–3 packages of cigarettes per day. Carola considered herself a "terribly lazy" person for not learning to play any instruments. She could speak five languages: Finnish, Swedish, French, Italian, and English.


In 1998, Carola's song "Armonaikaa" were used as the closing credits theme of the Prix Europa Special winning film "Hardly a Butterfly". In 2004, the double CD Parhaat (The Best) was released, being the 15th biggest selling Finnish album of the year in Finland with 27,100 copies. This caused a revival of Carola's music in Finland. Her 1966 recording session with Heikki Sarmanto Trio was published in the same year. Carola & Heikki Sarmanto Trio featured 10 songs from the YLE studio sessions, and 4 live performances from the YLE Jazz Concert at Kulttuuritalo concert hall in Helsinki 28 April, 1966. The album stayed in the Finnish charts for ten weeks. The Finnish Music Information Centre considers the Heikki Sarmanto Trio among the original blueprints of Finnish jazz.

Similar artists

Listed by Dusty Groove American music store:


  1. Lumilinna (1965) (TV) International Movie Data Base
  2. The Rose d'Or Festival. Award winners 1961 – 2008
  3. Carola & Heikki Sarmanto Trio. Liner notes. Jazzpuu, Helsinki. 2004
  4. Carola (FI): Chain of Fools (Song) (In German).
  5. Carolaa neljällä kielellä (Carola in four languages. In Finnish). YLE
  6. Carola & Heikki Sarmanto Trio (In Finnish). Soundi magazine
  7. Soundtracks for Liian paksu perhoseksi (1998) (TV) International Movie Data Base
  8. 2004 myydyimmät kotimaiset (2004 biggest selling national. In Finnish). International Federation of the Phonographic Industry
  9. Carola & Heikki Sarmanto Trio - Carola & Heikki Sarmanto Trio (Albumit) YLE
  10. Finnish jazz continues to refine the Arctic sound Finnish Music Information Centre

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