Maija Kauhanen

Maija Kauhanen
Annti Kokkola
Maija Kauhanen is one of the 13 nominees for the 2023 Nordic Council Music Prize.


Folk musician, singer-songwriter and kantele player Maija Kauhanen is an explosively strong and versatile one-woman orchestra. The basis for Kauhanen’s art is the Finnish-Karelian tradition with its instruments, playing and singing techniques.

An important role in Kauhanen’s strong interpretation is played by the singers’ stories and words, in which the theme is often the fate of women in different ages. Though the lyrics describe challenges in relationships, violence at home, and fears, they also contain joy, comfort and hope.

Kauhanen’s debut album Raivopyörä (“The Whirl of Rage”) from 2017 received laudatory reviews and marked the beginning of an international career that has so far taken her to more than 30 countries. Raivopyörä has been awarded many prestigious art prizes in Finland, including the Emma Award for best ethno album.  Kauhanen’s new album Menneet (2022; “The Past”) shows that her personal grasp of holistic creativity has grown even further.

Kauhanen’s live performances merge traditional kantele and new performance techniques with an astonishing variety of percussion instruments, different bells and experimental sound worlds. The combination creates a fusion of different time periods, techniques and styles, in the form of a fierce experimental one-woman band that enchants her audience everywhere.