Nana Mouskouri, one of the world’s most successful singers, was born on the 13th of October 1934.
Mouskouri had displayed exceptional musical talent from a young age and listened to radio broadcasts of singers including Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, and Édith Piaf. She began singing lessons at the age of 12.
In 1950, she was accepted at the Athens Conservatoire. She studied classical music with an emphasis on singing opera. After eight years at the Conservatoire, Mouskouri was encouraged by her friends to experiment with jazz music.
Mouskouri later left the Conservatoire and began singing jazz in nightclubs with a bias towards Ella Fitzgerald repertoire. In 1957, she recorded her first song, “Fascination”, in both Greek and English for Odeon/EMI Greece.
By 1958 while still performing at the Zaki club in Athens, she met Greek composer Manos Hadjidakis, who was impressed by her voice and offered to write songs for her.
In 1959 Mouskouri performed Hadjidakis’ “Κάπου υπάρχει η αγάπη μου” (Somewhere my love exists) at the inaugural Greek Song Festival. The song won first prize, and Mouskouri began to be noticed.
At the 1960 Greek Song Festival, she performed two more Hadjidakis compositions, “Τιμωρία” (Punishment) and “Κυπαρισσάκι” (Little cypress). Both these songs tied for first prize. She later went on to sign a recording contract with Paris-based Philips-Fontana.
In 1961, Mouskouri performed the soundtrack of a German documentary about Greece. This resulted in the German-language single “Weiße Rosen aus Athen” (White Roses from Athens). The song was originally adapted by Hadjidakis from a folk melody. It became a success, selling over a million copies in Germany. The song was later translated into several languages and it went on to become one of Mouskouri’s signature tunes.
She also represented Luxembourg at the Eurovision Song Contest in 1963 with the song “À force de prier”.
From 1968 to 1976, she hosted her own TV show produced by BBC, Presenting Nana Mouskouri. Her popularity as a multilingual television personality and distinctive image, turned Mouskouri into an international star.
She scored a worldwide hit in 1981 with “Je chante avec toi Liberté”, which was translated into several languages after its success in France.
In 1984, Mouskouri returned to Greece and performed to a large audience at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, her first performance in her homeland since 1962.
Mouskouri was appointed a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in October 1993. Her first U.N. mission took her to Bosnia to draw attention to the plight of children affected by the Bosnian war. She went on to give a series of fund-raising concerts in Sweden and Belgium.
She was also elected to the European Parliament as a Greek deputy from 1994 to 1999.
Over the span of her career, she has released over 200 albums in at least twelve different languages, including Greek, French, English, German, Dutch, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Hebrew, Welsh, Mandarin Chinese and Corsican.
On July 23 and 24, 2008, Mouskouri gave her two final ‘Farewell Concert’ performances at the ancient Herodes Atticus Theatre, in Athens, Greece, before a packed stadium.
In 2015 she was awarded the Echo Music Prize for Outstanding achievements by the German music association Deutsche Phono-Akademie.
Xronia Polla to Nana Mouskouri, who turns 86 today!