Nana Mouskouri Biography

Review The Artist (19)

Nana Mouskouri-photo
How to begin to describe the life of this phenomenal lady. Born Saturday, October 13, 1934 at 5 o'clock in the morning on the isle of Crete, Joanna Mouskouri, became known to family, friends and fans as simply Nana.

After three years on Crete, we find Papa, the movie projectionist, moving the family to Athens, to a small house behind the big screen of an open-aired cinema. In front of the big screen, shaded by marguerites, warm air perfumed by jasmine covered walls, stood a stage.

Place of dreams and magic... for the small child, the stage was to become not only the backdrop for the many movies that influenced her life and career, but also the place that Nana was to find the love, the peace, the hope... and acceptance she was to seek throughout life.

Projected along with the movies that fill her memories are also the images of poverty-stricken, war torn Greece. First with the German occupation during World War II, then during the even more tragic, to her, Greek civil war.

Yet even then a common thread was beginning to run though Nana's life to alleviate the horrors. The music. Greek by temperament as well as nationality, family life often centered around music. Her mother, with a good voice herself, soon saw the potential for her young daughters, the elder sister Jenny and Nana, to perhaps find careers in music. To this end both were enrolled in singing lessons, until the day came, her singing instructor faced with losing this intensely gifted student due to the family's financial hardship, offered to teach her for free if need be, so that Nana could continue with her studies.

Beyond the private lessons, came the Athens Conservatory of Music. Eight years of classical training, during which time she was also exposed to many other genres of music. To jazz, to blues, to gospel, to pop, listening to a rebuilt radio, late into the night, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday... singers with heart and soul, first experiences with the music transporting emotions between a singer and the audience, the sharing and communicating of feelings that crossed cultural and language barriers. Refusing the injustice of an ultimatum from her professor to only sing classical works so as not to damage her voice and training, Nana steadfastly pursued many types of music, beginning to appear in clubs.

In, 1959, she was chosen to participate in the first Greek Song Festival, singing two songs which won first and second prize, "KAPOU IPARCHI I AGAPI MOU" and "ASTERI ASTERAKI" (the proper title is "KSERO KAPIO ASTERI"), Mimis Plessas was its composer. Nana started as Plessas's outstanding songress; Hadjidakis came later, according to some sources.). The first song, was written by composer Manos Hadjidakis and poet Nikos Gatsos. Both men, influential not only to Greek music, but as friends and mentors, had long reaching effects on Nana's life and on her career. The following year, found her claiming a tie for first place with "TIMORIA" and "KAPARISSAKI"(The Cypress Tree), music again by Hadjidakis and lyrics by Gatsos. She says of Hadjidakis: "Manos' music helped me to dream and inspired me to always try the unreachable" and "he was my favorite composer". Going on to present his songs around the globe as representation of her heritage, many of his songs still form the backbone of her repertoire thirty-five years later. To Gatsos, amazing poet and dear friend, she gives credit as having guided her mind to search for the truth, love and freedom of her soul as well as having written many of the lovely lyrics she still presents to her audience.

Receiving the first prize in Barcelona for her presentation of "XIPNA AGAPI MOU" , shortly afterwards, marked Nana's first venture outside of Greece. In 1961, she was invited to the Berlin Film Festival to accept the Golden Lion award for participating in the documentary film called "Greece Land of Dreams", in which she acted as commentator and singing five songs written by Hadjidakis. Within months, she was to receive her first Gold Album for selling over one million copies of the song WEISSE ROSEN AUS ATHEN" .

Today, referring to "THE WHITE ROSE OF ATHENS", as her passport around the world, Nana has sung on stages in at least 65 countries, earning more than 250 gold and silver records as well as a Diamond award in Holland. Not content to only present her Greek music to her audiences, but wanting to share in their cultures and music, Nana undertook the learning of several languages. First, to Paris, and French.

Here, we find Nana, having traveled to France, signed to an international recording contract with Philips-Fontana Records. Faced with overcoming the language barrier of not only singing in a foreign language but having to be able to communicate with her record company and staff, she was submerged in the language, battling to learn not only the lyrics, but the very essence of French. She has now held the top female recording artist position in France for the past 15 years.

During this time, Nana came to the attention of Quincy Jones, then an "A&R" manager with Mercury Records, who asked her to the USA to record an English LP called "THE GIRL FROM GREECE SINGS" in 1962. Returning to France, she then recorded "LES PARAPLUIES DE CHEBOURG" with Michel Legrand.

As a participant in the Eurovision Song Festival in 1963, while not capturing a prize, Nana did begin to capture an audience for her albums in France, Belgium and Italy. It was during this time, that Harry Belafonte and Nana recorded an album called "AN EVENING WITH BELAFONTE AND MOUSKOURI" which then lead to several Canadian and US tours together. He was the first artist to introduce her to the love of performing on stage before an audience. Not only did she come to love concert work from Harry, he also encouraged her to to be herself, to deliver her personal message and vision of love, of peace and of hope to the audience though her music.

Years of touring, with her band the Athenians, including then-husband George Petsilas, along with numerous TV appearances, including her own series in England which were broadcast to the entire British empire of the time for 13 years, along with radio shows, have brought to us this consummated artist we now know as simply Nana. The singer. The woman. The love, the peace, and the hope.

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Amazing | Reviewer: Rodica Popa | 3/31/13

I love and I listen Nana Mouskouri ...she is wonderful and I am very happy when I hear her songs ...she is unique ,she gives me peace ,love and happiness ...thank you for all ,Nana ...Rodica Popa Romania

A Voice to be Proud of! | Reviewer: Sandy Sue-Ping | 2/27/13

I have been listening to Nana for almost 40 years. I spent my money growing up on her records and attending her concerts here in Toronto. I was lucky to attend her Farewell Tour at Massy Hall and miss her live performances dearly. There will never be another to match her and I think she is the BEST female singer that there is, better than Barbra Streisand and Celine Dion. I can't say enough about her and was lucky enough to speak with her briefly. That short exchange revealed to me what I suspected, that she is a humble person and a true lady in every
way. Viva y Bravo Nana!

THE GREATEST | Reviewer: IAN KERMAN | 1/30/13

My late mum was a great Nana fan and had most of her records and CDs. She always said that no one could sing quite like her. How right she was. As a young boy I started listening to this wonderful voice and have grown up with it. Magnificent. In 1974,as an 11 year old,I remember watching on television Nana's sell out concert at the Royal Albert Hall and I was spellbound! I still am whenever I listen to her unique voice. The greatest female singer of all time as far as I am concerned. In a class of her own. No one else comes close. A legendary performer. Thank you Nana for many years of listening to your angelic voice.

Remembering | Reviewer: Isabelle Bock Frankenfield | 11/23/12

I became familiar with Nana Mouskouri's music through my husband. He was a big fan ( and that's putting it mildly). Thru him I heard Nana many, many times. There is a hauntingly angelic quality in that magnificent voice. Now that he has passed, I can play her songs and relive our wonderful life together. Each song brings back a different wonderful memory.

NANA ... A TOUCH OF HEAVEN | Reviewer: Ron ... an Auzzi | 10/25/12

There are many talented singers in the world but Nana Mousskouri is beyond talent. She sings her songs not 'from,' BUT 'with' her heart.
Thank you for the exquisite beauty and love you radiate to millions.

Farewell | Reviewer: Dennis Njoroge Kamau | 7/18/12

My father introduced me into your music on (14th July 2012 saturday) this was his best song in his eary 80's i will maintain the same same spirit of being your fun to keep the memories of my father.

C'est mon histoire, quand je chante, a dieu angelina | Reviewer: Siakou koffi senyo | 5/1/12

It's awesome listening to you. I am born your fan because my father is a great lover of your songs.And you can image for 27 years i have never stopped listening to your sweet and incomparable voice.I am and forever I will remain a fan of yours Nana.


down memory lane | Reviewer: shainaaz | 12/21/11

just sad down and listen to Nana Mouskouri cd.... i haven't listened to her music since i was a teenager. Tears literally ran down my eyes as the memories of my late grandfather came flooding back. He was one of her biggest fans and introduced me to her music amongst other things... oh how i miss him and those days we shared. Thanks Nana for the memories... love and miss u lots Oupie!

Nana Mouskouri é simplesmente espetácular | Reviewer: Marinete Félix Cordeiro | 7/26/11

Já havia ouvido esta voz antes em alguma rádio aqui no Brasil, mas somente neste mês de julho/2011, enquanto pesquisava alguns vídeos de cantores internacionais no YOUTUBE, pude apreciar a beleza e a história de Nana Mouskouri. Fiquei realmente fascinada por ela. Ela é incrível, uma verdadeira Deusa Grega da Música. É uma pena que ela não tenha a intenção de realizar nenhum show aqui no Brasil, pois caso isso ocorresse eu assistiria na primeira fila. Ela é simplesmente divina.

Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves | Reviewer: Jenny H | 7/13/11

I will never forget being taken by my husband to hear you sing in the Christchurch Town Hall NZ in the early 1980's. The lights went down and without music you sang this song. "Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves". I cried and when the lights came on so was half the audience, men and women. Thank you for a memory that I will cherish all my days. Wish I could get the words in english

This Voice! | Reviewer: Brenda Lemon | 4/26/11

I must have been under a rock for the past 40 yrs. I just happened upon your songs while browsing Youtube. I am now and forever your dedicated fan. I simply can't believe my ears...I just posted your 'Je nai Pas Peur De Mourir avec toi' and have listened to it 30 times or more...Now I must go and find more of you. I thank you (and thank GOD) for your incomparable voice.

Nana and Yusuf Allie | Reviewer: Noor Joseph | 11/8/10

I just came from a function where Yusuf Allie
entertained the guest with his singing and with his
melodies.I bought one of his CD's and after listening
to some of the tracks (down here in beautiful Cape Town)
it was a reminder of the times when Yusuf Allie was
the talk of Cape Town and the whole of South Africa
when he was strumming those strings with the world's
most famous female artist.

Thank you Nana for entertaining us for all those years
and for having Yusuf as one of your main guitarist.

Regards and love From Cape Town


Nana | Reviewer: Anonymous | 10/24/10

The one thing that defines humanity is music and Nana has given us a most distinctive and inspirational voice. To listen to her sing is an emotional experience and makes one wish they could have done more with their own life.

great voices | Reviewer: Anonymous | 9/12/10

I am a fan of GOOD MUSIC.
That is what Nana Mouskouri apparently has done in her life time;what a beautiful voice !
I am a regular listener for a FM station that plays nonstop easy listening music every hour of every day.
One day recently, I heard this exceptional female vocalist on their show and I had to find
out who she was.I called the station to find how
to access their playlist.
I found out who that beautiful voice belonged to
Before this time I did't know she existed!
There are many excellent performers,but she has to be one of the best!
Thank you ,NANA.

do you remember | Reviewer: aleeta long | 8/18/10

I married the widower Tony Long whose wife, Cecily,was a sister to one of your very best Canadian friends...Tony introduced me to your music...He told me about the times that He and Cecily went back to your dressing room , after your performance, and was able to meet you.
When Tony and I married, I walked down the Rockefeller greenhouse ailse to the sound of your recording, The Guests.
I need you , I need you, I need you now, reverberated throughout the poinsetta covered rooms and waterfalls.
I had a customer that bought a cd of yours with that song on it, and sent it to me from Canada. I treasure it with my life.
I have a dream someday, that I will get to meet you in person too.. Til then, I just enjoy your voice singing , and reverberating throughout our home... Thank God for you dear Nana, you have brought so much happiness to all...PS ... I also love the latest singer Susan Boyle...aleeta rachel hall / long

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