Nana Mouskouri

Nana Mouskouri (in Greek, Nανά Μούσχουρη), born as Ioanna Mouskouri on October 13 1934, in Chania, Crete, Greece, is a singer of Greek origin. She was known as Nana to her friends and family as a child. She has recorded in many different languages, including Greek, French, English, German, Italian, Spanish, among others.

The early years

Mouskouri's family lived in Chania, Crete, where her father, Constantine, worked as a film projectionist in a local cinema. Her mother, Alice also worked in the same local cinema as an usherette. When Mouskouri was three, her father moved the family to Athens. Mouskouri's family worked extremely hard in order to send Nana and her elder sister, Jenny, to the prestigious Athens Conservatoire. Mouskouri had displayed exceptional musical talent from the age of 6. However her sister, Jenny, initially appeared to be the more gifted of the two. In fact Mouskouri has one vocal cord that is thicker than the other. This unusual condition accounts for her unique voice, both speaking and singing.

Mouskouri's childhood was stamped by the Nazi occupation of Greece. Her father became part of the anti-Nazi resistance movement in Athens. Mouskouri began singing lessons at age 12. Despite the flaw in her vocal cords, Mouskouri took singing lessons regularly. During the Nazi German occupation, her family no longer had the financial means to pay for her singing lessons, but her teacher saw that she had a certain talent and continued to give her lessons free of charge. As a child, she listened to radio broadcasts of singers such as Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, and Billie Holiday and Édith Piaf.

Enlarge picture
Nana Mouskouri on the cover of the Greek magazine, Radio Programma, published in May 1957. This was her first appearance on a magazine cover.


In 1950, she was accepted at the Conservatoire. She studied classical music with an emphasis on singing opera. After eight (8) years at the Conservatoire, Mouskouri was encouraged by her friends to experiment with jazz music. She soon began singing with her friends' jazz group at night and they even managed to get a radio slot. However, when Mouskouri's Conservatory professor found out about Mouskouri's involvement with a genre of music that he considered to be absolutely worthless, he flew into a fury and prevented her from sitting her end of year exams. Mouskouri left the Conservatoire and began performing at the Zaki club in Athens.

She began singing jazz in nightclubs with a bias on Ella Fitzgerald repertory. In 1957, She recorded her first song, Fascination, in both Greek and English for Odeon/EMI Greece. By 1958 while still performing at the Zaki, she met Greek composer Manos Hadjidakis. Hadjidakis was immensely impressed by Nana’s original voice and immediately offered to write songs for her. In 1959 Mouskouri performed Hadjidakis' Kapou Iparchi Agapi Mou (co-written with poet Nikos Gatsos) at the inaugural Greek Song Festival. The song won first prize, and Mouskouri began to be noticed.

At the 1960 Greek Song Festival, she performed two more Hadjidakis compositions, Timoria and Kiparissaki. Both these songs tied for first prize. Mouskouri performed Kostas Yannidis' composition, Xypna Agapi Mou, at the Mediterranean Song Festival, held in Barcelona that year. The song won first prize, and she went on to sign a recording contract with Paris-based Philips-Fontana.

In 1961, Mouskouri performed the soundtrack of a German documentary about Greece. This resulted in the German-language single Weisse Rosen aus Athen ("White Roses from Athens"). The song was originally adapted from a folk melody by Hadjidakis. It became an enormous hit, selling over a million copies in Germany. The song was later translated into several different languages and it went on to become one of Mouskouri's signature tunes.

Family Life

Mouskouri married Yorgos Petsilas in 1961. Mouskouri and Petsilas have two children, son, Nicolas born on 13 February 1968 and daughter, Hélène, nicknamed Lenou, born on 6 July 1970. In 1974, Mouskouri and Petsilas separated and in 1975, Mouskouri and Petsilas were officially divorced.

In 1962, she met Quincy Jones, who persuaded her to travel to New York City to record an album of American jazz titled, The Girl From Greece Sings. Following that she scored another hit in the United Kingdom with My Colouring Book.

Life outside Greece

In 1963, she left Greece to live permanently in Paris. Mouskouri performed Luxembourg's entry in the Eurovision Song Contest that year, À Force de Prier. The song became an international hit, and helped win her the prestigious Grand Prix du Disque in France. Mouskouri soon attracted the attention of French composer Michel Legrand, who composed her two major French hits Les Parapluies de Cherbourg (1964) and L'Enfant au Tambour (1965).

In 1965, she recorded her second English-language album that was released in the United States entitled, Nana Sings. American Calypso musician Harry Belafonte heard and liked the album. Belafonte brought Mouskouri on tour with him through 1966. They teamed for a live duo album entitled, An Evening With Belafonte/Mouskouri. During this tour, Belafonte told Mouskouri to remove her signature black-rimmed glasses when on stage. She was so unhappy with the request that she wanted to quit the show after only two days. Finally, Belafonte relented and respected her wishes to perform with her glasses.

Mouskouri's 1967 French album Le Jour Où la Colombe raised her to superstardom in France. This album featured many of her French songs, Au Coeur de Septembre, Adieu Angélina, Robe Bleue, Robe Blanche and the French pop classic Le Temps des Cerises. Mouskouri made her first appearance at Paris' legendary Olympia concert theater the same year, singing French pop, Greek folk, and Hadjidakis numbers.

In 1968, Mouskouri turned her attention to the British market and hosted a BBC TV series called Presenting Nana Mouskouri. The next year she released a full-length British LP, Over and Over. It became a smash hit that spent almost two years on the UK charts. She expanded her concert tour to Australia (where she met Frank Hardy, who followed her to the south of France in 1976), New Zealand and Japan. She even managed to record a few Japanese songs for the Japanese market. In France, she released a series of top-selling albums that included Comme un Soleil, Une Voix Qui Vient du Coeur, Vielles Chansons de France, and Quand Tu Chantes.

The middle years

In 1979, Mouskouri had another English-language album named Roses and Sunshine. This album consisting largely of folk and country material, and included work from such diverse sources as Neil Young, Dolly Parton, Bob Dylan and John Denver. It was very well received in Canada, and one of the album's tracks, "Even Now" (not the same song as the 1978 Barry Manilow hit), became a staple on beautiful music radio stations in the United States. She scored a worldwide hit in 1981 with Je Chante Avec Toi, Liberté, which was translated into several languages after its widespread success in France. The momentum from this album also helped boost her following German album, Meine Lieder Sind Meine Liebe. In 1984, Mouskouri returned to Greece for her first live performance in her homeland since 1962.

In 1985, Mouskouri recorded Only Love, the theme song to a BBC TV series that went on to top the UK charts. The song was also a hit with its French version, L'Amour en Héritage. That same year, Mouskouri made a play for the Spanish-language market with the hit single Con Todo el Alma. The song was a major success in Spain, Argentina and Chile. She released five albums in different languages in 1987, and the following year returned to her classical conservatory roots with the double LP The Classical Nana (aka Nana Classique), which featured some of her favorite opera excerpts. By the end of 1987, she performed a series of concerts in Asia, including South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Thailand.

Autobiography

A French language autobiograpy appeared in 1989 titled "Chanter ma vie" (Singing my life).

In 2006, Greek publisher A.A. Livanis published a biography in Greek appeared titled "To onoma mou ine Nana" (My name is Nana). In autumn 2007, the French and English versions of this biography will appear under the titles "Nana Mouskouri - Memoires - La fille de la Chauve-souris" (XO publishers) and "Nana Mouskouri - Memoirs" (Orion Publishing Group).

The later years

Mouskouri's 1991 English album, Only Love: The Best of Nana Mouskouri became her best-selling release in the United States. She spent much of the 1990s with her rigorous global touring schedule. Among her early 1990s albums were spiritual music, Gospel (1990), the Spanish-language Nuestras Canciones, the multilingual, Mediterranean-themed Côté Sud, Côté Coeur (1992), Dix Mille Ans Encore, Falling in Love Again: Great Songs From the Movies. Falling in Love reunited her with Harry Belafonte on two songs.

Enlarge picture
Nana Mouskouri Collection, 2004. Boxed set of 34 CDs.


She recorded several more albums over 1996-1997, including the Spanish Nana Latina (which featured duets with Julio Iglesias and Mercedes Sosa), the English-language Return to Love, and the French pop classics, Hommages. In 1997, she staged a high-profile Concert for Peace at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York. This concert was later released as an album, and aired as a TV special on PBS in the U.S.

UNICEF/Politics

Mouskouri was appointed a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in October 1993 [1]. She took over from the previous ambassador, the recently-deceased actress Audrey Hepburn. Mouskouri's first U.N. mission took her to Bosnia to draw attention to the plight of children affected by Bosnian war. She was deeply moved by her experience in Bosnia and went on to give a series of fund-raising concerts in Sweden and Belgium.

She was elected a Member of the European Parliament from 1994 until 1999, when she resigned from her position as a MEP, reportedly because as a pacifist, she refused to back wars.

Post-political career

In 1993, Nana recorded a new album, Hollywood. It was produced by Michel Legrand. Hollywood was a collection of famous film songs, which served not only as a tribute to the world of cinema, but also as a personal reference to childhood memories of sitting with her father in his projection room in Crete.

21st century life

Mouskouri currently lives in Switzerland with her second husband, André Chapelle, whom she married on January 13 2003. She still performs about 100 concerts each year. In 2004, her French record company released an unprecedented 34-CD box set of more than 600 of Mouskouri's mostly French songs.

Through 2008, she has planned farewell concert tours of Europe, Australia, Asia, South America, the United States, and Canada. During an interview with The Australian newspaper, when asked why this would be her final concert series, Mouskouri said she wanted to retire on a high note. "I never thought that I would grow that old. It is better really to stop while you are standing well on your feet. I just want to be proud and in very good form and thank the audience for all this love", she said [2].

In 2006 she made a guest appearance at that year's Eurovision Song Contest which was held, for the first time ever, in her native homeland of Greece. Mouskouri has sold more than 300 million [1] records internationally, recording about 1,500 songs in 15 languages on 450 albums. She has more than 230 gold and platinum albums worldwide.

Partial discography

  • Nana Mouskouri Canta canciones populares griegas (1960)
  • I megales epitichies tis Nana Mouskouri (1961)
  • Ta prota mas tragoudia (1961)
  • The White Rose of Athens (1961)
  • The Girl From Greece Sings (1962)
  • Roses Blanches de Corfu (1962)
  • Ce Soir A Luna Park (1962)
  • Crois-Moi ça durera (1962)
  • Un homme est venu (1963)
  • Sings Greek Songs-Never On Sunday (1963)
  • Celui Que j'aime (1964)
  • The Voice of Greece (1964)
  • Chante en Grec (1965)
  • Nana Mouskouri et Michael Legrand (1965)
  • Griechische Gitarren mit Nana Mouskouri (1965)
  • Nana Mouskouri in Italia (1965)
  • Nana's Choice (1965)
  • Nana Sings (1965)
  • An Evening with Belafonte/Mouskouri (1966)
  • Le Coeur trop tendre (1966)
  • Strasse der hunderttausend Lichter (1966)
  • Nana Mouskouri in Paris (1966)
  • Moje Najlepse grcke pesme -Yugoslavia- (1966)
  • Pesme Moje zemlje -Yugoslavia- (1966)
  • Un souvenir du congres (1967)
  • Nana Mouskouri à'lOlympia (1967)
  • Showboat (1967)
  • Chants de mon pays (1967)
  • Singt Ihre Grossen Erfolge (1967)
  • Le Jour où la Colombe (1967)
  • Nana (1968)
  • What now my love (1968)
  • Une soirée avec Nana Mouskouri (1969)
  • Dans le soleil et dans le vent (1969)
  • Over and Over (1969)
  • The exquisite Nana Mouskouri (1969)
  • Mouskouri International (1969)
  • Grand Gala (1969)
  • Verzoekprogramma (1969)
  • Le Tournesol (1970)
  • Nana Recital 70 (1970)
  • Sings Hadjidakis (1970)
  • Turn On the sun (1970)
  • Bridge Over troubled water (1970)
  • My favorite Greek songs(1970)*
  • After Midnight (1971)
  • A Touch of French (1971)
  • Love story (1971)
  • Pour les enfants (1971)
  • Comme un soleil (1971)
  • A place in my heart (1971)
  • Chante la Grèce (1972)
  • Lieder meiner Heimat (1972)
  • Xypna Agapi mou (1972)
  • Christmas with Nana Mouskouri (1972)
  • British concert (1972)
  • Une voix... qui vivent du coeur (1972)
  • Presenting...Songs from her TV series (1973)
  • Vieilles Chansons de France (1973)
  • Chante Noël (1973)
  • Day is Done (1973)
  • An American album (1973)
  • Nana Mouskouri au théatre des champs-Elysées (1974)
  • Que je sois un ange... (1974)
  • Nana's Book of Songs (1974)
  • The most beautiful songs (1974)
  • Adieu mes amis (1974)
  • Encore! (1974)
  • Le temps des cerises (1974)
  • If You Love me (1974)
  • The magic of Nana Mouskouri (1974)
  • Sieben Schwarze Rosen (1975)
  • Toi qui t'en vas (1975)
  • Träume sind Sterne (1975)
  • At The Albert Hall (1975)
  • Welterfolge (1975)
  • Een stem wit het hart (1975)
  • Quand tu chantes (1976)
  • Die Welt ist voll Licht (1976)
  • Lieder die mann nie vergisst (1976)
  • Nana in Holland (1976)
  • Songs of the British isles (1976)
  • Love goes on (1976)
  • Quand Tu Chantes(1976)
  • An Evening with Nana Mouskouri (1976)
  • Ein Portrait (1976)
  • La récréation (1976)
  • Passport (1976)
  • Une voix (1976)
  • Alleluia (1977)
  • Glück ist wie ein Schmetterling (1977)
  • Star für Millionen (1977)
  • Geliebt und bewundert (1977)
  • Lieder, die die Liebe schreibt (1978)*
  • Nouvelles chansons de la Vieille France (1978)
  • Les enfants du Pirée (1978)
  • Impact (1978)
  • Wereldsuccessen (1978)
  • Roses and Sunshine (1979)
  • Vivre au Soleil (1979)
  • Sing dein Lied (1979)
  • Kinderlieder (1979)
  • Morning has broken (1979)
  • Come with me (1980)
  • Vivre avec toi (1980)
  • Die stimme in concert (1980)
  • Wenn ich träum (1980)
  • Alles Liebe (1981)
  • Je Chante Avec Toi, Liberté (1981)
  • Ballades (1982)
  • Song for liberty (1982)
  • Farben (1983)
  • Quend on revient (1983)
  • La dame de coeur (1984)
  • Athina (1984)
  • I endekati entoli (1985)
  • Ma vérité (1985)
  • Alone (1985)
  • Libertad (1986)
  • Kleine Wahrheiten (1986)
  • Tu m'oublies (1986)
  • Why Worry? (1986)
  • Only Love (1986)
  • Love Me Tender (1987)
  • Tierra Viva (1987)
  • Du und Ich (1987)
  • Par amour (1987)
  • Con tutto il cuore (1987)
  • The Classical Nana (1988)
  • A voice from the heart (1988)
  • Concierto en Aranjuez (1989)
  • Tout Simplement 1&2 (1989)
  • Weinachts Lieder (1989)
  • Taxidotis (1990)
  • Oh Happy day (1990)
  • Gospel (1990)
  • Only Love: The Best of Nana Mouskouri (1991)
  • Nuestras canciones (1991)
  • Am Ziel meiner Reise (1991)
  • Côté Coeur (1992)
  • Hollywood (1993)
  • Falling in Love again (1993)
  • Songs of my Land (1993)
  • Dix mille ans encore (1994)
  • Agapi in'i zoi (1994)
  • Recuerdos1& 2 (1994)
  • Nur ein Lied (1995)
  • Nana Latina (1996)
  • Hommages (1997)
  • Return to Love (1997)
  • The Romance of Nana Mouskouri (1997)
  • Concert for peace (1998)
  • Chanter la vie (1998)
  • Sentimiento latino (1998)
  • The Great Movie Themes (1999)
  • As time goes by (1999)
  • The Christmas Album (2000)
  • Erinnerungen (2001)
  • Songs the whole world loves (2001)
  • Fille de soleil (2002)
  • Un bolero Por Favor (2002)
  • Ode to Joy (2002)
  • Nana Swings (2003)
  • Ich hab'geweint, ich hab'gelacht (2004)
  • Integral/Collection-34 CD Box Set (2004)
  • A Canadian Tribute (2004)
  • I'll Remember You (2005)
  • Complete English Works/Collection-17 CD Box Set (2005)
  • Moni Perpato (2006)
  • ''Le Ciel est Noir - les 50 plus belles chansons (2007)

References

1. ^ Universal Music, which is currently Nana's label and also the owner of Nana's past label PolyGram, has provided the following data:
  • Universal Music France universalmusic.fr claims that Nana sold more than 230 million discs worldwide.
  • Universal Music Germany universal-music.de claims that she sold more than 350 million discs.

See also

External links

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