I wish I could have known about Tarja back in 1996 when she first began to rise to glory, but I was a child back then. I first discovered Nightwish in 2007 when I found the Highest Hopes compilation album at a local library, and decided to listen to it because the cover was very attractive, and I'd always heard of Nightwish but never listened to them.

The first song I listened to was "Wish I Had an Angel," and it completely blew me away. All the female vocals I've heard were sweet but ordinary, but Tarja's voice was just so rich and powerful that I was almost in a state of tears at the end of the song (which was also thanks to Tuomas's beautiful lyrics and composition). I then started flipping through the little Highest Hopes booklet, and in the middle was a painting of the band members, and from left to right they were: Tuomas, Emppu, Tarja, Marco, and Jukka. These band members' portraits basically shouted "home!" to me, and as silly as it sounds, it seemed as if they were my long-lost relatives or something. :D

Though all four guys looked amazing (I have the hugest crushes on Tuomas and Emppu), I was struck the most by Tarja. She seemed to be one extremely talented, confident, and unique vocalist, and since then I bought a copy of Highest Hopes for myself, and then listened to the rest of the band's discography in chronological order. Tarja's singing in masterpieces - which are all my favorite songs - like Ghost Love Score, Ever Dream, Over the Hills and Far Away, Nemo, and Ocean Soul took me on an emotional ride and I've admired her voice ever since.

Before the breakup of the band in October 2005, Tarja had always seemed the steadfast leader of Nightwish, always nailing every note perfectly during performances and enticing the fans. The DVDs End of Innocence and End of an Era always make me choke with tears, but always happy ones! Though I was absolutely devastated that the band decided to fire Tarja, who had faithfully stood by the band for nine years, I respected the guys' decision and waited patiently for Tarja's solo career to be launched.

This year, I was not in the least disappointed. Tarja has made a spectacular comeback with her new album, "My Winter Storm," and is still touring around the world with the same vigor and love for music as ever. She has even challenged Nightwish in votes for Metal from Finland, and is doing the finest job as a solo vocalist. I dearly miss the sweet Tarja of the old days, before she married Marcelo and started to have a businesslike attitude towards the band. She had been a close friend of all the other band members, especially Tuomas, and was always caring and unassuming. However, I greatly appreciate her renewed stardom as a soloist, and perhaps this new era will prove to be even better for her musical career.

I was online when Tuomas posted on the Nightwish forum in December 2007 to negate Tarja's claim, which I hope was only a misunderstanding, that the band still used her backup vocals on live performances. In truth, Anette sang all the background vocals for the new recordings, and I love this upbeat new vocalist of Nightwish. She has a done a wonderful job so far on the Dark Passion Play tour, and is now one of my favorite female vocalists, but she will never be able to replace the brilliant Tarja who had spent nine of the most glorious years with Nightwish.