American Musician Tours the Land of Her Grandparents

Published in Ilta-Sanomat July 3, 1997

Diane Jarvi is Perhaps More Finnish Than She Knows

A voice that bewitchingly moves from dark to light reaches for the works of Satumaa. The accent reveals immediately that Finnish is not the singer’s native language.

And yet the interpretation is as strong as a deep, still pool. Third generation Finnish-American Diane Jarvi seems to be reaching for something extremely fundamental from the land of her forefathers.

While talking to her something surprising creeps into the mind of the listener: Diane Jarvi really is not aware of how many kantele strings in the souls of the people of Finland she is able to touch with her interpretation. Like a shaman drummer from Lapland she is a mixture of the familiar and the unknown; somehow exotic and yet at the same time springing from the common roots deep within us.

The mere use of vibrato separates her from traditional Finnish music. The quick vibrating swing of the voice is familiar mainly to songs from American folk music sung by female Native American singers.

On the other hand Diane Jarvi is genetically one hundred percent a Finn. Her real name is Jarvenpa, in other words a Yankee version of Järvenpää. As a full-blooded third generation Finn she is already quite a rarity in a country where people typically describe themselves as, for example, a “Scotch/Finnish/Indonesian/Cherokee”

“Sure I understand a little Finnish, that is after I’ve been here a few more years,” Diane quips in English.

Jarvi arrived yesterday for a three-week tour, at which time she can be heard among other places at the Rovaniemi Roots’n River- festival, in Haapavesi, Oulu, and at Kaustinen. She is not yet sure about Helsinki gigs, which may turn up after the tour.