Since first entering a recording studio some 15 years ago, singer/guitarist Erja Lyytinen has become a bona fide star in her homeland and a fixture on the international music scene. In that time, ‘the Finnish slide goddess’ (The Blues Magazine) has recorded in places as diverse as Helsinki, London and Memphis, earning numerous accolades along the way. Rooted in both traditional and modern blues, she successfully blends styles like jazz, pop, soul and rock into a sound all her own. Celebrated slide guitar master Sonny Landreth, upon discovering Lyytinen’s music recently, remarked: “I sure enjoyed her guitar skills. She’s obviously made a big name for herself. Things are going well for her and for good reason.”
Born into a musical family in the town of Kuopio, Lyytinen quickly emerged as an artist to watch in her native country. She recorded her international debut Pilgrimage after signing with Germany’s prestigious Ruf Records label in 2005. The 2006 Blues Caravan tour gave audiences in Europe and the United States a first taste of her spirited live performances. The solo follow-up Dreamland Blues took her back to the USA to record with David and Kinney Kimbrough (sons of Mississippi blues legend Junior Kimbrough). After two years on the road, she returned with Grip of the Blues in 2008, mixing hard-edged blues with modern R&B. Her 2010 release Voracious Love was even more adventurous and with 2013’s Forbidden Fruit, she returned to more familiar territory.
Canada’s Blues Underground Network chose The Sky Is Crying as Best European Blues Album and Best Tribute Album of 2014. It also placed in the top three international albums of 2014 as chosen by writers at Britain’s Blues Matters, who also honored Erja as the #2 international solo artist.
The Elmore James tribute The Sky Is Crying proved to be a breakthrough. Released in 2014, it was universally hailed as her best and bluesiest recording to date. This collection of stripped-down, old-school blues convinced even the most discerning listeners that Lyytinen’s feel for the blues runs deep and that as a slide player, she has few peers. Live in London, a sizzling live set of Elmore James covers and original material released a year later, culminated with Erja being voted the #1 international solo artist by Blues Matters and Artist of the Year at the Finnish Blues Awards.
In June 2018 Erja got to open for Santana at Helsinki’s Kaisaniemi Park. Carlos Santana invited Erja to play on stage in front of 20 000 people. “It was inspiring to see her play. It was from the future and I like the future” Santana said giving her a nickname ‘Lightning’ referring to Lightnin’ Hopkins.
See her perform at The Greystones in Sheffield on March 21st.