Life of a Nightingale

Aleah Liane Starbridge was born on July 1, 1976 in Cape Town, South Africa.
Her original name: Julia Liane Stanbridge

She later settled in Örebro, Sweden and lived here until her death on 18 April 2016.

Cause of death: Gynecological disease

Sign of zodiac: Cancer

She had long struggled with her recurrent illness.


But let’s start at the beginning:

In the 2000s, she moved to Örebro, Sweden, with her parents (Roland and Gilian) and her brother (Duchesne).
Later, her parents divorced.

After settling with her family, she began working on her musical career.

Her first contribution was Krister Linder’s 2006 song, “Don’t Loose Your Way”.
Also in 2006, Omnimotion also asked for a contribution, namely the song “Days of Silence”.

She also sang in the songs “Being” and “Elves of Athoria”.

In 2007, she sang the Xerxes project’s song “Inhale”.

Her first demo material was also released in 2007 called ‘Demo Master’.
This release features 7 songs in dark folk/gothic rock style.

In 2008, she became the frontwoman of a band called That Which Remains, formed by Andy Cousin (The Mission).
Here she showed again her talent and proved that she was a great talent.

In 2009 the Swallow The Sun’s leader Juha Raivio was looking for a singer for his new project.
Aleah also sent her application and Juha liked her voice so much that he arranged an appointment with her.

When they first met, they knew right away that they were created for each other.

Aleah in the studio

After that, not only was there a working relationship between them, but they were a couple.
Their first joint work was the song “Lights on the Lake” on Swallow the Sun’s upcoming ‘New Moon’ album.

Aleah also performed on stage with Swallow the Sun in the early 2010s.

Aleah on stage with Swallow the Sun

Aleah and Juha’s first co-written song was “My Requiem”.
Aleah wrote the lyrics when they were recorded the vocals for “Lights on the Lake”.

On that summer and fall, the couple recorded a 4 song EP that appeared on the internet with great success.
They then continued to write the songs in preparation for a major album and then signed a contract with AMF Publishing (UK).

In 2009, they formed their joint band called Trees of Eternity.
The music for the songs was composed by Juha and sometimes Aleah helped him, but the lyrics were written entirely by Aleah.

The band’s members:
Aleah Starbridge (vocals)
Juha Raivio (Swallow The Sun) (guitar)
Kai Hahto (Formerly Swallow the Sun, Wintersun; Now: Nightwish) (drums)
Fredrik Norrman (Katatonia, October Tide) (guitar)
Mattias Norrman (October Tide) (bass guitar)

The music of the band can be described as follows:
Inspired by melancholic melodies and soft female vocals in a death/doom metal in down tempo.
Or gothic doom metal with ambient folk sound and soft female vocals.

Trees of Eternity

In 2011, after Lisa left Draconian, Aleah approached the band to join them.
She eventually canceled her application because of her solo project and Trees of Eternity.
The band’s singer eventually became her close girlfriend, Heike Langhans, who also born in Cape Town, South Africa, but later she also moved to Sweden.

Heike Langhans

In 2012, Aleah also appeared in the music video “Cathedral Walls” which song was released on the next Swallow The Sun album, ‘Emerald Forest and the Blackbird’.

The chorus of the song was sung by the former Nightwish singer Anette Olzon.
Anette was the lead-singer of Nightwish at that time. Now she is the singer of Dark Element.
Aleah plays a grieving woman who goes down to the beach with her boyfriend to scatter the ashes of a deceased loved one there.

This was the first video in which we could be seen Aleah live.
On the same album, she contributes as a guest vocalist in “Labyrinth of London” and in the title track.
The song “Labyrinth of London” was also demoed by Aleah in an acoustic version.

Trees of Eternity’s first single, “Million Tears,” was released in May 2012.

They made a lyric video for the song.

Their second single, “Sinking Ships,” was released in February 2013, for which they also made a promo video.
This is the other video clip in which we can see Aleah live.

Their 4 song demo called ‘Black Ocean’ were released online in 2013.
To the fans’ great delight as well as to the great delight of the media, they sold a limited number of signed CDs, usually arousing media interest.

Recording of their first album has began in 2013.
The album recordings were made slowly as Aleah traveled a lot with Juha.

Aleah was extremely spiritual-minded.
She practiced the Wicca religion and was passionate about Egypt and exotic countries.
She practiced yoga regularly and meditated.

She also loved nature and animals.
She had a kitten and a horse.
Her horse went to heaven in 2018.

Aleah and her horse

Aleah regularly wrote songs, lyrics, poems and also had a home studio.

Aleah in her home studio

In 2015, Aleah was a guest on Amorphis’ song “White Night” which song was released the band’s album ‘Under The Red Cloud’.In the song she sang the verses.

Then she sang on the title track of Coph Nia’s album ‘Lashtal Lace’.

She also sang on Swallow the Sun’s triple album ‘Songs From the North’, featuring the song on the first part “Heartstrings Shattering”.

The lyric video for the song was released on October 5, 2015.
The album was released on November 3, 2015.

She also took the official promo and cover photos of the album.
Aleah loved taking photos.

This was her last act and work.

On April 18, 2016, at 2:13 pm, Aleah gave up the fight against the disease.
The Nightingale closed her eyes forever.

Aleah lived only 39 years.

Her recurrent illness had been with her for a long time.
Her mom wanted to send her for a checkup, but Aleah was afraid of the male doctor.
And her mom’s female doctor couldn’t take her because of the many patients.

Her fellow musicians and colleagues said goodbye to Aleah on their social media sites.

The incident shook the entire music world very much.

Aleah was a very special talent.
Her soft, silky voice suited several musical genres, making it a big loss for many.
Her legacy will resonate for many, many years.

Juha, after losing his partner, completely collapsed.
However, he was determined to gather Aleah’s poems, lyrics and demos to be in one place.
Or he can release them later.
His first thing was to release their joint band, Trees of Eternity’s album.

It wasn’t an easy thing to do, as it was made of one material, so it was rejected by every major publisher.
Eventually, a small Swedish label, Svart Records, took the release under its wing, which finally hit stores on November 11, 2016.

It wasn’t an easy thing to do, as it was the only one material, so it was rejected by every major publisher.
Eventually, a small Swedish label, Svart Records, took the release under its wing, which finally hit to the stores on November 11, 2016.

Juha about the album:

“Life has truly taken everything away from me, but one thing it can never take away from me, or anyone of us, is music!
To be able to record and release this album I want to thank from the depths of my heart Kai, Mattias, Fredrik, Jens Bogren, Andy Farrow, Tomi Pulkki & Svart Records.
Aleah, from today your beautiful spirit, voice and your words are finally being released to the world.
I was such a fortunate person to see your magic in work so close, and to write so much music with you.
From today I want everyone of you to celebrate, embrace and share her music and the lyrics of such a light and great darkness as far as you can.
You always told me that to really understand your true self you need one white and one black wing on your back.
How easy it is to hear from your music.
Music truly was everything to her and she crafted every single word and a note until they were like a shining diamonds of her soul, a pure blinding light in the dark.
When ever she picked up the guitar and started to sing I always knew she could not be from this time and place, not from this world.
And she wasn’t.
Aleah, thank you for leaving behind your healing voice and words for all of us to embrace.
Like a true star you never pushed your self to the front, or said a bad word of anyone.
But then again you never needed to, as the time stood still when ever you walked into the room.
Now the time stands still forever in your music and words, yet they could not be more alive.
I will carry your flame.
Love Eternal Nightingale.”

Cover of the Trees of Eternity album

The album was titled by ‘Hour of the Nightingale’ and features 10 songs.
Several lyric videos were made for the album.

Broken Mirror (August 10, 2016):

Million Tears (October 20, 2016):

Hour of the Nightingale (November 11, 2016):

Eye of the Night (April 18, 2017):

In 2017, Juha made the memorial record from the poems, lyrics and one of the demos of his deceased partner.

He named the project Hallatar and asked for some great musicians. to work together.
Tomi Joutsen (Amorphis), Gas Lipstick (ex-HIM) and Heike Langhans (Draconian).


The release features 9 songs, including “My Mistake,” which became the album’s biggest hit.

The album, ‘No Stars Upon the Bridge’, was released on October 20, 2017 under the wings of Svart Records.

Cover of the Hallatar album

Juha about the album:

“Thank you everyone who have bought this album, or is thinking to do so or is waiting to receive your copy.
Thank each one of you who have shared Aleah’s music and words since her acoustic songs, Trees of Eternity or just found about her.
Keep carrying her bright flame with us.
We know this music and these albums are not for everyone, it is much easier to look away than look the pain in the eye.
But all of you who have taken this music and these words into your heart and finding true meaning behind it all, we thank each one of you.
As Aleah always said you have to look the darkness straight in the eye and dive straight into the abyss without fear.
Embrace it, rule it and work through it as it is a true part of you.
It is the only way to the inner light, understanding, and to the other side.”

They made videos for three songs:

Mirrors (June 2, 2017):

My Mistake (October 17, 2017):

In this video appears several personal objects of Aleah.
Such as Aleah’s legendary necklace and her horse, who soon after the shooting followed Aleah to heaven.
The video was shot in Aleah’s favorite places.

Heike Langhans as Aleah in the My Mistake clip.
Next to her is Aleah’s horse.

Melt (June 27, 2019):

The album’s last song, “Dreams Burn Down,” was made from one of Aleah’s demos, in which Aleah sings the chorus.

Aleah’s short poems were recited to the record by Heike.

On November 9, 2018, the British band Antimatter released their previously recorded song with Aleah on their seventh album, ‘Black Market Enlightenment’, which song was given the title ‘Existential’.

In the post-Hallatar period, Juha worked with his other band, Swallow the Sun.

However, in early 2018, he promised to make Aleah’s solo album from the singer’s 2007 demos.

This album will finally be released this year on Aleah’s birthday, July 1, under the care of Svart Records.

Pre-ordering of the album began on April 18, 2020, the anniversary of Aleah’s death.

Interestingly, Juha will send a link to whoever pre-ordered the album, with a few more demo recordings to download.
This link will also be sent with the disc on the album’s release day.

The album will be a double album.
The songs will be heard in acoustic style on the first CD and in electronic style on the second CD.
There will be 15 songs on the album.
9 on the first and 6 on the second.

Cover of Aleah’s solo album

Juha about the album:

“This day April 18th will always stay as the blackest and saddest day of my life.
But I want to remember this day also from something positive and good from now on.
I want to thank Svart Records for standing behind me and giving me the opportunity to release all this music so far to honour Aleah’s legacy, and now finally Aleah’s own album that she always wanted to release.
I hope you will support, share and carry this album like a golden torch of Aleah and tell the world about this healer and her music she left behind for us.
Carry the flame!”

The members of Hallatar about the album:

“The flame that burns twice as bright, burns half as long”, but with the release of “My Will” from the superlunary new “Aleah” album, upon the anniversary of her tragic death, Aleah’s spirit burns ever so brightly upwards.”

For the first single (“My Will”), the lyric video has already been made.
The video was made the first time for the electronic version and then for the acoustic version.

The album can be a great success, as most pre-orders have run out of most limited-edition releases very quickly.

In recent years, several musicians have paid their respects to the memory of Aleah.

One of these for example was Malukah, who covered the song “Sinking Ships” from Trees of Eternity.
The video was released on October 1, 2018:

Or the one-woman formation called Suldusk who dedicated their 2019 album ‘Lunar Falls’ to Aleah.
Within that is the song “The Elm” which is also a reworking of “Sinking Ships”.

Also included is The Nightingale band, who plays Aleah adaptations and also performed on the Hallatar tour as a guest.

Hallatar members always played the following song at the beginning of the concerts, from a Canadian singer Anilah.
Anilah and Aleah were also friends and Aleah was also a warrior who struggled with her illness to the end.

Quotes from Aleah:

“I think as human beings we by nature carry both light and darkness within us, but perhaps the difference between myself and some authors in this genre is that I don’t see this pain, suffering and darkness as something to revel in, worship, or aim for in itself.
I see it more as a passage, a part of ourselves that we must all face, embrace, integrate and pass through in order to reach our full potential as individuals.”

“The only one in whose presence I seem to be able to find the right words that truly reflect where I am, even if symbolically.
And this someone, is my lyric writing notebook.
And for the past few years, all the deepest, darkest, most vulnerable moments of my life have become the songs of Trees of Eternity.
There is not a word in there that is acted, exaggerated or written just because this type of music “is supposed to be dark”.
It is the very blood of my soul’s journey through this life.”

“Life is too short to spend a half of our lives doing what we don’t love.
Follow your heart, your passions and your inspiration for they will take you towards your true destiny.”

Eszter Jurancsik helped in the editing, to whom I thank you very much for her help!
I am extremely grateful for everything!

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