Mirja Mäkelä (born 1968) is a Finnish jazz vocalist who has led her own bands since 1992. In 1994 she won the “Lady Summertime” jazz voice competition in Finland and she was voted as the best female jazz singer in Finland several times by the Finnish magazine Jazzrytmit.
Mirja Mäkelä has released five albums as a bandleader featuring her own music, the newest one being “So Far, So Me” (2022) by the Mirja Mäkelä Trio. In addition to her own bands, Mirja Mäkelä has sung as a guest soloist in various small bands, and also big bands such as UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra, Espoo Big Band, Estonian Dream Big Band (EST), and Norrbotten Big Band (SWE). She was the founding member of the a cappella vocal group JimJamMurMur, consisting of four top Finnish female jazz vocalists. JimJamMurMur made two albums of their own compositions, and they toured Finland as well as visited Mexico during the years 2000-2015. Mirja Mäkelä has performed at numerous jazz festivals and clubs in Finland and also in Sweden, Norway, Estonia, Poland, Germany, France, Morocco, USA, and Japan.
Celebrating her 50th birthday recently, Mirja Mäkelä made a 3-concert tour as a featured soloist with Espoo Big Band and Marzi Nyman as the conductor. The repertoire included new arrangements of Mirja Mäkelä’s own compositions.
Currently Mirja Mäkelä is preparing her fifth solo album, which will highlight her unique style of turning Finnish poems into vocal jazz. Her compositions combine jazz rhythms and harmony with a hint of folk music elements, and on the interpretation, you can enjoy all Mirja Mäkelä Trio’s members’ deep knowledge of jazz tradition and experience in improvisation.
Mirja Mäkelä was the first jazz vocalist in Finland to obtain a Master’s degree in jazz, at the Sibelius Academy Jazz Department in 1999. She also studied composition and voice at the University of Southern California in 1996 with Vince Mendoza and Michele Weir. Nowadays she teaches vocal jazz at Sibelius Academy and Espoo Music Institute, where she also worked as the director of the pop & jazz department Ebeli years 2007-2021.
“A great sounding group, in all.” Harri Uusitorppa, Helsingin Sanomat 7/27/2021 (Mirja Mäkelä Trio at JazzEspa 2021)