Popular Greek singer Despina Vandi was born as Despina Malea on 22 July 1969, in Tübingen near Stuttgart, Germany. Vandi’s family returned to Kavala, Greece when she was six years old.
After moving to Athens in the early 1990s, Vandi signed with Minos EMI and released two albums Gela Mou (1994) and Esena Perimeno (1996). She then began an exclusive collaboration with songwriter/producer Phoebus and struck commercial success with her third album, Deka Endoles (1997), followed by the multi-platinum Profities (1999), as she established a more “pop” stage performance style and image, becoming one of the most prominent portrayers of the laïko/pop genre.
Her single “Ipofero” (2000) became the best-selling single of all-time in Greece. Following Phoebus’ departure from Minos EMI, Vandi followed him to the newly formed independent label Heaven Music and released Gia (2001), which became and remains her biggest commercial success, as well as one of the best-selling albums of all time in Greece and Cyprus. Vandi also released the album abroad and the self-titled single “Gia”, topping the US Billboard Hot Dance Airplay and making her the first Greek artist to top a Billboard chart. She returned with Stin Avli Tou Paradeisou (2004), which was certified multi-platinum and became her fourth album to achieve six-figure sales.
In 2007 10 Hronia Mazi, a ten-year celebration of her collaboration with Phoebus was released, followed by her eighth studio album C’est La Vie. In 2012 she released the album Allaxa, which was certified 2x platinum sales and has been her first double platinum record since 2005.
Vandi has won three Arion Music Awards, ten MAD Video Music Awards, seven Pop Corn Music Awards, and a World Music Award, becoming the first Greek artist recording in Greece to ever win the award. On 14 March 2010, Alpha TV ranked Vandi the fourth top-certified Greek female artist in the nation’s phonographic era (since 1960), with 11 records having been certified platinum or multi-platinum and three gold by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry of Greece.
According to Heaven Music, as of 2007, Vandi has sold one million records in Greece. In the aftermath of her success, Vandi gained the title of the “queen” of Greek music.
On a personal note, she has one older brother and an older sister. Living in a lower-middle-class family, her dream was to become either an actress or a singer but she always knew that she should have something more solid as a background so she went on to study psychology, philosophy, and education at the University of Thessaloniki. When she first began singing, she used the stage name of “Elli Mara” before adopting the “Vandi” moniker, to hide that she was singing from her parents.
Despina Vandi is married to Demis Nikolaidis, ex-international soccer player and former president of AEK soccer club. She has a daughter named Melina who was born in February 2004 and a son named Giorgos who was born in August 2007.
Xronia Polla to Despina, who turns 51 today!