Accomplished artists hold that art is not just an expression at the surface level but a direct manifestation of what is going on in their minds: It’s an undisguised reflection of an artist’s inner world.
Anna Kokkonen, 38, a Finnish singer and songwriter based in Helsinki, is known for creating songs on real-life stories of survival, fairytale worlds, and everyday heroes.
Talking to The Epoch Times, the impressive vocalist shared how her faith in the core-value system of being “true, kind, and tolerant” keeps her inspired to constantly feed her mind with good things so that she can benefit her listeners in the best way possible.
“I wish to give people an option, that you don’t have to go along with the dark and desperate things even if everyone else would do that,” Anna said. “You can instead choose another way and enjoy a bright future and even help others at the same time.”
A Born Artist Inspiring Hope
Anna, who is half Finnish and half Russian-Ukrainian, was born in Finland but spent the first year of her life in Russia. For the successful artist, music just naturally came to her, and thus singing and songwriting have played a significant role in her life.
“I have always heard music in my head,” Anna said. “As a child when I read a children’s book with a poem, I could hear the music for the poem spontaneously, even though there was no such song beforehand.”
At the mere age of 6, Anna began playing the violin. By the time she reached her teens, the talented girl was strumming a guitar and singing. With such inborn abilities, Anna said it was very natural for her to become a songwriter.
She graduated from Helsinki Pop and Jazz Conservatory with a major in electric guitar. In 2009, the gifted artist set up an acoustic band and began writing songs in folk music with Finnish lyrics.
“I found some good friends who wanted to join my band,” Anna said. “We have a basic band with guitar, keyboard, violin, drums, and bass, but then I also invite some great visitors such as cello, harp, and flute players.”
Behind Anna’s powerful lyrics and songs that uplift the human spirit, her inspiration is to bring hope to people amid this chaotic world.
Although Anna’s style is pop and folk music, she shared she tries to incorporate traditional instruments in her music; and for the lyrics, she often prefers using traditional rhymes.
With a strong liking to classical music, Anna endeavors to express her feelings beyond words and strongly believes that it is possible if one can stay true to oneself and their life values.
“I used to play a kind of music that I thought others would like, even though I didn’t truly enjoy it,” Anna said.
“When I gained the courage to write my own music with my values, things naturally succeeded.”
Exposing Injustices With Art
Beyond composing songs that bring out the inherent goodness in people, Anna has also written a song on justice called “Kultainen maa,” translated as the “Golden Land” in English. The soul-stirring song is based on a true story reflecting the courage of the persecuted adherents of the Falun Gong spiritual system in China.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is an ancient mind-body meditation practice based on the tenets of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance. After its introduction to the public in 1992, over 70 million people were practicing the self-improvement cultivation system in China alone.
However, by July 1999, the former leader of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Jiang Zemin launched a brutal persecution campaign against Falun Gong, viewing its peaceful nature as an ideological threat to the party’s authoritarian values of class struggle and hate. In the last 21 years, countless Falun Gong practitioners have been arrested, imprisoned, and tortured, with some even having their organs harvested.
Talking about the song “Kultainen maa,” Anna shared that although the Falun Gong adherents in China face imminent danger, they still try to help others.
“The story of the song lyrics is that when people, one by one, choose to light a candle and stand for justice, then the whole land will shine brightly like gold, and it won’t be dark anymore,” she said.
Anna said the persecution that Falun Gong practitioners face in China is very “sad and shocking.” With Anna having experienced the health benefits of Falun Dafa firsthand, the persecution didn’t make any sense to her. Its suppression was something she couldn’t initially comprehend.
She said: “As a western person, I have grown in a society where freedom of speech is highly appreciated. So at this day and age, how could the Chinese officials persecute their own people who are even benefiting the Chinese society?”
Anna started to practice Falun Dafa in 2006 when her then-boyfriend Jarkko Kokkonen, now her husband, happened to see a “mysterious lady doing some exercise.” After Jarkko enquired more about the practice from the lady, he returned home and shared it with Anna.
“It was almost magical that I immediately became excited and said to him that I want to start this practice,” Anna said.
Since practicing the exercises of Falun Dafa and reading its main text, Zhuan Falun, Anna says her health has been really good, but the practice has led to significant changes in her mindset.
“I have an ‘artist’s mind,’ which means I sense things very strongly and it’s sometimes hard for me to calm down,” she said. “The practice has helped me to balance things and see them in the right perspective.”
“Meditation is of course the best way to recover,” she added.
In the music arena, Anna has achieved quite a lot over the years. Anna’s songs have been played a lot on the most popular radio station in Finland, Radio Suomi. Additionally, two of her songs have been the most played songs of the week on a popular Finnish radio station called Radio Finland.
An artist’s work is usually tied closely to their personal values that are reflected in every note or composition—and Anna is no different.
“When writing a good song with a positive message, I feel like I first make myself a bit happier by finishing the song, and when it’s ready I can give that special gift forward to others,” Anna said.