CULTURE

Mouskouri presents her new collections

With her usual elegance, her timid gaze and her infamous glasses shielding her from the rest of the world, singer Nana Mouskouri came to Greece for one day in order to present two collections of her songs which have just been released. She managed to steal some time away from all her obligations: concerts all over the world, journeys as a UNESCO goodwill ambassador and her current work with UNICEF for the children in Iraq. At the age of 68, Mouskouri has all the liveliness as well as the disposition to do things that any other woman could be jealous of. According to Costas Bourmas, president and managing director of Universal Music, Mouskouri is the most commercially successful female singer in the world with sales exceeding 250,000,000 albums. She has had scores of gold and platinum albums, and even a diamond-studded one. Music seems to be her motivation for everything and she describes it as the sole influence and inspiration in her life. She talked about her latest song collections with some guilt, since it is not the best thing that could happen to her considering that there is a war going on. The collections, a double album called «Mia Foni» and «Nikos Gatsos: Gloria Eterna songs with Nana Mouskouri» include songs from her musical career in Greece. «Mia Foni» has 40 of the most important recordings of her 45-year singing career. It includes songs from the period 1958-1970, such as Manos Hadjidakis’s «Kapou Iparchei i Agapi Mou» and Mimis Plessas’s «Kapou se Xero» which together earned her both first and second place at the 1959 Greek Song Contest, respectively, and even the rare English recording of «San Sfirixeis Treis Fores» from the «Ellas i Chora ton Oneiron» album. There are also songs from the first performance of Mikis Theodorakis’s and Yiannis Ritsos’s «Epitafios» as well as Costas Yiannidis’s «Xipna Agapi Mou,» with which she won the first prize at the Barcelona Festival in 1960. The second collection consists of songs in Mouskouri’s career from 1970 to the present, including two new recordings: Tassos Meletopoulos’s «Eneninda Ennea» with lyrics by Aris Davarakis, and Evanthia Reboutsika’s «Exi Martiou,» which is dedicated to Melina Mercouri. «The album for Nikos Gatsos is more important to me,» said Mouskouri at the presentation held at the Zappeion Hall. It is true that she and Gatsos shared a deep friendship right up to the songwriter’s death and she describes him as her «great teacher.» While he was alive, he also talked very fondly about her. «That girl is like a wandering ship… That was precisely the image that came to my mind when I first saw and heard her, years ago, at a seaside nightclub in Athens, singing American songs with an orchestra. I didn’t even know her name at the time, but her warm voice and her appealing face, as well as the image of the sailing ship, stayed in my memory for a very long time. I could not even imagine that just a year later I would be writing the lyrics for her first Greek song and that I would eventually write the lyrics to almost all the songs that she sang in Greek.» Mouskouri said that she used all the songs she had at her disposal for that tribute to Gatsos. When, noting the absence of some songs from «Mythoi Mias Gynaikas,» a journalist asked whether she had not been allowed to use them, she gave a polite answer. «I am not fond of conflicts at all. The thinking behind this restriction was that Manos Hadjidakis should not coexist in the same album with other composers so that his work would not be cut off.» «It is strange. Although Hadjidakis’s work belongs to Gatsos too, I was the only one to sing it,» she added with a tinge of bitterness. She described Gatsos as very tolerant. «I did something very foolish once. He just pointed it out to me and left me alone with my guilty conscience. We never mentioned it again.» After these collections reflecting the Greek part of her singing career, another one, dedicated to her career in France, is due to be released next year, which exceeds 1,300 songs. Tributes abound for this international singer. On April 15, for example, Mouskouri is set to receive an honorary award for her outstanding career during the Arion Music Awards ceremony.