CULTURE

Why Elissavet Spanou is taking the slow, painstaking road to success

Elissavet Spanou is a 22-year-old singer, one of the new generation of hopeful artists in Greek song. Despite her youth, her pleasant voice and stage presence is the result of painstaking effort. She made her debut just several months ago with a CD single titled «Stagona» (Drop) containing three songs: two with music and lyrics by Manolis Famellos and another, an adaptation of the song «Erhete Kryo» (Cold is Coming), previously sung by a great lady of Greek song, Arletta. This past summer also saw her stage debut, touring the country with the rising star balladeer Michalis Hadziyiannis. So why didn’t a young, hopeful, performer such as Spanou try her luck on television, on a show like Fame Story, for example? «But, that’s not a music academy. It’s a machine that makes stars,» she says. «I have a feeling that the reasons those kids had for being there and their goals are much different from mine. It just can’t be the same when there’s a big prize at the end. That alone steers them off course.» Spanou does not believe in miracles over night and knows all too well that even talent needs to be nurtured. «I have been singing since I was 14 years old. My mother used to take a course in Byzantine music and she sang psalms. One day she took me with her and I was very impressed. Just after, I signed up to the Haidari Music School, started learning the piano and the ney (a Persian wind instrument), then went to the music school of Nikos Touliatos and then on to the Philippos Nakas Conservatory,» explains the young singer. She started singing professionally just after finishing school, performing everything from Greek laiko music and traditional ballads to rock in small live music venues with a group of friends from music school. «One day, Mariza Koch happened to hear me and she said: ‘Come here, little one, and let’s sing together.’ So I took part in a musical play for children she was staging. Back then, it seemed really weird to sing at 10 o’clock in the morning. Later though, I realized how much I had gained from the experience.» Other important partnerships in Spanou’s budding career have been with Costas Tournas, the Anichti Thalassa band and, of course, Famellos and Hadziyiannis. Though her star seems to be on the rise, the young artist has not tried her hand at penning her own songs. «But, I am only 22 years old,» she exclaims. «I don’t really think I have that much to say yet. Composing music and writing lyrics is about living. And forget about the fact that I am very strict with myself and think everything I do is not very good.» Spanou will just keep singing for the time being, and she is already booked to play several live shows through the winter and to release an album by Easter.