Les Amazones d’Afrique entertained the crowd with their world music that featured sweet and strong harmonies at the Allas Sea Pool in Helsinki on Sunday, May 29, 2022. Click to view the gallery. Photographs: TONY ÖHBERG/FINLAND TODAY

HELSINKI—Nicole Willis’ performance at Temppeliaukio Church in Etu-Töölö was all about chills.

Through your spine.

The formula was this:

The chill building quality of Nicole Willis’ voice and her dedicated attention to nuances.

The skillful choir, Gospel Helsinki, supported Willis’ raspy voice with finesse and emotion.

A groovy rhythm section backed the vocalists with a smooth and crispy sound.

Oh, and the acoustics of the Temppeliaukio Church were. . . something else!

Since Willis moved to Helsinki from New York in 2004, she quickly became a legend among people in the know after recording an all-time classic album Keep Reachin Up’ with a Finnish grimy funk and soul band The Soul Investigators.

Later, the inspiring message of the titular song reached the ears of the people behind former U.S. President Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. They included the song on Obama’s official Spotify list.

And when Obama gave his winning speech before becoming the president, he said “keep reaching.”

Indeed, it felt like reaching up in the church where the crowd filled to its maximum capacity of about 700 clapped, cheered and swayed to songs like “Together We Climb,” “Feeling Free”—songs Willis is famous for from a career spanning four decades.

Last week, the World Village Festival was spread across multiple venues around the city, including Tiivistämö in Suvilahti and the marine spa Allas Sea Pool in the Helsinki center next to the Market Square.

At the sea pool, we caught another festive concert by an African group Les Amazones d’Afrique.

There was not much more room for more people.

“The concerts at Allas Sea Pool attracted a total audience of 10,000,” according to Nelli Korpi, the communications manager of the World Village Festival.

Overall, this year’s edition was a more interesting World Village Festival than those previously arranged in a single place, like the Kaisaniemi Park.

No surprise that the total attendance was, according to the organizers, more than 21,000.

Click to view the gallery: Nicole Willis’ performance at times shaked the tail feathers and at others provoked tears of joy at the Temppeliaukio Church on May 29, 2022. Photographs: TONY ÖHBERG/FINLAND TODAY