Singer swims against the current

Her voice was everywhere last year, recognizable especially in the theme tune to the popular television series «Leni,» sung to lyrics written by Nikos Gatsos. Now, Foteini Darra – one of the most promising and refreshing young vocal talents around – is releasing her first album, titled «Deltia Anemon» (Wind Forecasts), which comprises poems by Rilke, Anagnostakis, Drossinis, Ganas and Kapsalis set to music, as well as other songs with lyrics written by Zoudiaris, Kordelas and Fasoulas, all to music composed by Dimitris Papadimitriou. A first album based on well-known poetry is a daring debut for a young artist, especially at a time when cheap, catchy tunes seem to be the only recipe for commercial success. «Singing poems set to music gives me a sense of security,» explains Darra. «The words of a song are so important that, in this way, you start off knowing that you have good lyrics. I also don’t believe that an artist needs to follow the trends of the time when producing new work.» The music penned by Papadimitriou is, according to Darra, a «good fit» with the words of the poets. «I think this kind of thing suits him best,» she says of her collaborator. «Anyway, this is how he began in the first place. It all seems very natural to me, maybe because I have a background in the theater where we are accustomed to great texts and they are a part of the job.» The young artist’s theater background is rooted in her studies at the Theodosiadi School. She then went on to study modern dance and was a competition athlete in gymnastics with the Panathinaikos club. In her second year of drama school, she was cast in «Grease,» directed by David Gilmore, followed by «Chicago,» directed by Gillian Gregory. Her next performance was in «The Birds,» directed in 1999 for the Greek National Theater by Costas Tsianos. She rejoined the theater company for a production of «A Midsummer Night’s Dream» in cooperation with the State Theater of Northern Greece. Explaining her transition to music, Darra says: «My early roles were musical ones and that is how I got the idea of becoming a singer. The turning point was in 2000 with the film ‘The Fading Light’ by Vassilis Douros. I didn’t act in that one, just sang. Generally, I’d say that I have taken most of the jobs offered to me because of the singing. «Being an actress for me means a combination of acting and singing. This may be because my parents, being good Ionians, brought me up in an environment where music was always a given.» Operas, classical music and musical tunes rang through her home when she was growing up. Later, she began adding new artists to her list of preferences, among them Maria Farandouri, Nana Mouskouri, Haris Alexiou, Eleftheria Arvanitaki and Dimitra Galani. «Now I am well-grounded in the music scene,» says Darra. «But that doesn’t mean I’d say ‘no’ to an acting proposal. Anyway, every song is a role to me.» What genre does she represent? «Neither laiko nor entechno really,» she explains, making a differentiation between the more popular form of Greek singing and songs with a more arty feel. «In an age where people don’t really express themselves, either because they are too over the top or because they are apathetic, I am trying to be real. What suits me best is serious modern music.»