Aino performing in 2015
Born Aino Annikki Aakula-Nsizwakele
(1985-11-24) 24 November 1985 (age 32)
Helsinki, Finland
Occupation Singer, songwriter, producer
Genres Alternative R&B, electronic
Instruments Vocals, piano, synthesizer
Years active 2005–present
Eurovision Song Contest
Country Iconfinland Finland

Aino Annikki Aakula-Nsizwakele (born 24 November 1985), known professionally as simply Aino, is a Finnish singer, songwriter, and music producer. She competed in SuomenLaulu 1 with the song "Veri mestari".

Life and careerEdit

Early lifeEdit

Aino was born on 24 November 1985 in the Etu-Töölö neighborhood of Helsinki. Her father, Manelesi Nsizwakele, is a South African Zulu painter. Manelesi came to Finland to attend the Academy of Fine Arts, where he met Aino's mother, Katariina Aakula. Katariina is a Finnish graphic designer and performance artist.

Both of Aino's parents were well-respected and successful in their fields, and she grew up an only child in an upper-income household. Aino graduated from primary school in 2002. After her graduation, she began attending a music school in Helsinki, which she graduated from in 2005. After her graduation, she began working as a professional musician in Helsinki.

2005–2010: Career beginningsEdit

After her graduation from high school, Aino began working as a professional musician in Helsinki, under her birth name, "Aino Aakula-Nsizwakele". Initially, Aino searched for a career as a mainstream pop artist, but was discouraged when no major Finnish labels would sign her. She independently released her debut EP, Moonlight, in 2007, which featured mainstream pop and R&B songs performed in the English language.

In 2009, she was in talks to sign a recording contract with Universal Music Finland, but they backed out at the last moment. Following dissatisfaction with the Finnish music industry, Aino moved to Slovakia in 2010 for a fresh start.

2010–2014: Career in SlovakiaEdit

After arriving in Slovakia in 2010, Aino settled in Bratislava. She enrolled herself in Slovak language courses, and soon began booking jobs performing in various nightclubs. Also while in Slovakia, Aino worked odd jobs such as a truck driver, a butcher, a nanny, and a dog walker.

Beginning her Slovak career, Aino decided to drop her surname as she decided having three names with difficult pronunciations would be too off-putting for a foreign audience, and began performing mononymously as "Aino". Also while in Slovakia, Aino began producing and writing songs both for herself and for Slovak artists. She changed her sound from mainstream pop and R&B to more avant-garde R&B mixed with electronic music. Aino has said that she considered releasing her music in the Finnish language, but that she believed Slovaks wouldn't want to listen to music in a language they didn't understand.

Her second studio album, Toothpaste, was released in 2012, and was written, recorded, and produced entirely by Aino in Slovakia. While it didn't impact the Slovak charts, Aino still began performing more and more gigs in Slovakia and gaining a fanbase. In 2014, she returned to Finland.

2014–present: Return to Finland and SuomenLauluEdit

In 2014, Aino decided to return to Finland following the death of her grandmother and because she wished to connect with her roots once again. After returning, Aino decided to stop performing in the English language and devote herself to Finnish-language music, after consulting her fanbase. She independently released the EP, Tätäkö olen aina halunnut?, in 2015.

In 2016, she recorded the song "Veri mestari", and submitted it to SuomenLaulu 1, Finland's national final for the Eurovision Song Contest. She ended up qualifying as a finalist, and placed third in the final, placing third in the jury vote and fifth with the public vote.

Personal lifeEdit

Aino was raised speaking both Finnish and Zulu, but also is fluent in English, Swedish, and Slovak. She identifies herself as bisexual and biracial. In 2016, she married Finnish graphic artist Kalevi Jalonen.


Studio albumsEdit

Title Details Peak chart positions
  • Released: 13 July 2007
  • Label: Independent
  • Format: CD, digital download
  • Released: 30 March 2012
  • Label: Independent
  • Format: CD, digital download


Title Details Peak chart positions
Tätäkö olen aina halunnut?
  • Released: 6 March 2015
  • Label: Independent
  • Format: CD, digital download


Title Year Peak chart positions Certifications Album
"She Ain't Me" 2007
"Nightmare Material" 2011
"Lavender Paris"
"Skeleton In My Closet" 2012
"Niinä päivinä jaoimme" 2014
Tätäkö olen aina halunnut?
"Haukkua kuin koira" 2015
"Veri mestari" 2017 76
Non-album single(s)