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Janita to jazz up Albuquerque

Finnish singer on par with Erykah Badu, Jill Scottby

When Scandinavian-born singer-songwriter Janita left her native Finland for New York City five years ago at the age of 17, she was thinking vacation.

“When I came here, I thought it would be for two weeks,” Janita said from her Big Apple home. “When I told everyone I was moving here, I didn’t think I would be staying very long.”

Now, Janita is looking to expand her career with her first American release, I’ll Be Fine, on the Carport Music Imprint.

She has had top-10 hits and Grammy awards in both Finland and Asia since her career began at the age of 13. But she admits it was tough to expand in the fishbowl-like confines of Finland.

“I lived for 17 years in Finland and because all the musicians knew each other, they couldn’t really be themselves,” Janita said. “It’s hard to change over there, and it’s natural for human beings to want to change.”

So after five years of soaking up New York City culture comes Janita’s foray into the American pop charts. I’ll Be Fine combines Janita’s breezy, sensuous vocals with beat-heavy pop, smooth jazz and Latin and soul rhythms. The grooves are great for dancing and probably better to, you know, get your groove on.

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Her voice is really incomparable with the current slate of popular female vocalists — she’s more Erykah Badu than Britney Spears and more Sade than Christina Aguilera. And though she is a stunning beauty, she said she realizes where her place is in the music world.

“MTV is basically playing pop music — Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera — and I feel like I don’t really fit there,” Janita said. “But, like with Jill Scott and a lot of artists, people find them somehow. I’m hoping to find those outlets, even though they might not be on TV or radio. Playing live and word of mouth is pretty much the outlet for me.”

Janita is playing her first major United States gig in Albuquerque this weekend at a KRQS-101.3 FM-sponsored show at the Albuquerque Hilton ballroom. The show will also be simulcast live on the radio station. Janita said she is pleased that the station welcomed her with open arms.

“I’m basically only on cool jazz stations right now, and I’m trying to find radio stations that are interested in bringing me to their city,” Janita said. “KRQS was one of the first to offer, and I just want to give them respect for taking a chance on me. I’ve never been there; I’m looking forward to it.”

Janita, who professes to loving music by D’Angelo, Maxwell, A Tribe Called Quest and Aerosmith, as well as Mexican food, feels the time is right for her to succeed in the U.S.

“Since I moved to New York, I’ve been changing a lot,” Janita said. “During these past five years, I realized that life is fragile; if I wanted to do something, I had to do it now. I’m not waiting for something to happen tomorrow, just being in this business is the best.”

Janita appears at the Hilton Hotel ballroom Friday at 8 p.m. for a free concert as part of the radio station’s Smooth Jazz Concert Series. For more information, go to

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