Nana Mouskouri Biography

Joanna Mouskouri, 13 October 1934, Chania, Crete. Mousouri’s family moved to Athens, Greece when she was three years old. This bespectacled vocalist was steeped in the classics and jazz but was sufficiently broadminded to embrace a native style of pop after a stint on Radio Athens in 1958. An artistic liaison with orchestra leader Manos Hadjidakis facilitated a debut single, ‘Les Enfants Du Piree’, which was aimed at foreign consumers. Well-received performances at several international song festivals were added incentives for her team to relocate to Germany, where ‘Weiss Rosen Aus Athen’ (derived from a Greek folk tune), a number from Hadjidakis’ soundtrack to the 1961 movie Traumland Der Sehnsucht, sold a million copies. Now one of her country’s foremost musical ambassadors, Mouskouri undertook a US college tour which was followed by further record success, particularly in France with such songs as ‘L’Enfant Au Tambour’, ‘Parapluies De Cherbourg’ (a duet with Michel Legrand) and a 1967 arrangement of the evergreen ‘Guantanamera’.

From the late 60s in Britain, Mouskouri scored almost exclusively with albums with Over And Over lingering longest on the lists. Sales were boosted by regular BBC television series on which her backing combo, the Athenians, were granted instrumental spots. A collection of Mouskouri favourites from a BBC season in the early 70s spent many weeks in the Top 30 but, other than a postscript Top 10 single (‘Only Love’) in 1986, her UK chart career climaxed with 1976’s Passport. By then, however, she had mounted a plateau of showbusiness high enough to survive comfortably without more hits. Recently she has combined her music career with the post of Ambassador and world representative of the entertainment business at UNICEF, and the Greek deputy to the European parliament. Recording regularly in five languages (French, English, German, Spanish and Greek), her new English album Return To Love was released in 1997. In 2005 she undertook her worldwide farewell tour; retirement presumably.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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