She grew up in the village of Sauvere. During the German occupation of Estonia during World War II, Lääts' mother, a schoolteacher, was executed by German soldiers by gunshot on 18 November 1941 in a reprisal killing of villagers for the assassination of a German military officer. After the death of her mother, she was raised by her aunt Anna. Her father later remarried. Lääts later atttended primary and secondary schools in Kivimäe and Rahumäe.
In 1950, while contemplating attending the University of Tartu to study physical education and singing in a mixed-choir under the direction of Joosep Aavik, the choir traveled to Tallinn for the XIII Estonian Song Festival. Aavik introduced Lääts to singer Aleksander Arder, who, after hearing Lääts sing, asked her why she didn't wish to train as a singer. After a year teaching in Kuressaare, she changed her plans and enrolled at the Tallinn State Conservatory (now, the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre) in Tallinn, graduating in 1955. Her first year at the Conservatory, she was under the direction of singer Georg Ots. In 1960, Lääts graduated with a degree in singing from the Conservatory, having studied under Tiit Kuusik.
She was the first Estonian singer to receive a qualification in estrada and chamber singing. In 1956, Lääts began to perform as an estrada singer with the Emil Laansoo Ensemble and the Eesti Raadio Estrada Orchestra in 1956. Estrada, during the Soviet period, usually referred to performers of traditional popular music (although the actual term Estrada (stage) is much wider). Estrada music was was generally written by professional composers and poets. The songs were designed for vocal prowess, had clear, catchy melodies, and accompaniment is given to a secondary role. In 1957, Lääts joined many other estrada performers and the ensemble Metronoom to participate in the World Festival of Youth and Students in Moscow.
In 1958, Lääts was the first Estonian singer to win a title in a Soviet Union-wide estrada contest. From 1957 until 1961, Lääts sang in the Eesti Raadio Women's Trio, and from 1957 until 1987, she performed as a soloist with the Estonian SSR State Philharmonic (now, the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra). From 1966 until 1974, she was employed as a vocal teacher at the Philharmonic's estrada studio. During her career, Lääts also recorded and performed a number of children's songs. She also released several albums, recorded music for Eesti Raadio and recorded songs with Mikk Mikiver and Jaak Joala. Some of her her best-known songs in Estonia include "Tsirkus," "Oma laulu ei leia ma üles," and "Tänav, pink ja puu." Heli Lääts was married to conductor and pianist Peeter Saul for fifty-six years.
Prior to their marriage in Kadrina in 1958, they had been in a relationship for two years. Saul died in 2014. The couple had two sons, Indrek and Kaarel. Lääts died at age 85 on 16 February 2018 in Tallinn. Lääts was awarded the title of Artist of the Estonian SSR in 1970 and People's Artist of the Estonian SSR in 1976.
In 2004, she was awarded the Order of the White Star, V Class. That same year, she won one of four Estonian National Culture Foundation Lifetime Achievement Awards. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
show me more