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Nana Mouskouri ( ), born as Ioanna Mouskouri ( ) on October 13, 1934, in Chaniamarker, Cretemarker, Greecemarker, is a singer who is confirmed to have sold over 300 million records worldwide in a career spanning over five decades, making her one of the best-selling artists and highest selling female artist of all time. She was known as Nana to her friends and family as a child. (Note that in Greek her surname is pronounced with the stress on the first syllable rather than the second.) She has recorded in many different languages, including Greek, French, English, German, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, and Welsh.

The early years

Mouskouri's family lived in Chania, Crete, where her father, Constantine, worked as a film projectionist in a local cinema. Her mother, Alice also worked in the same local cinema as an usherette. When Mouskouri was three, her father moved the family to Athensmarker. Mouskouri's family worked extremely hard in order to send Nana and her elder sister, Jenny, to the prestigious Athens Conservatoire. Mouskouri had displayed exceptional musical talent from the age of 6. However, her sister, Jenny, initially appeared to be the more gifted of the two. In fact, due to a congenital deformity, Mouskouri has only one functioning vocal cord. This unusual condition accounts for her unique voice, both speaking and singing.

Mouskouri's childhood was stamped by the German Nazi occupation of Greece. Her father became part of the anti-Nazi resistance movement in Athens. Mouskouri began singing lessons at age 12. Despite the flaw in her vocal cords, Mouskouri took singing lessons regularly. As a child, she listened to radio broadcasts of singers such as Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, and Édith Piaf.

In 1950, she was accepted at the 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. She soon began singing with her friends' jazz group at night and they even managed to get a radio slot. However, when Mouskouri's Conservatory professor found out about Mouskouri's involvement with a genre of music that he considered to be absolutely worthless, he flew into a fury and prevented her from sitting for her end-of-year exams. Mouskouri left the Conservatoire and began performing at the Zaki club in Athens.

She began singing jazz in nightclubs with a bias on 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, she met Greek composer Manos Hadjidakis. Hadjidakis was immensely impressed by Nana’s unique voice and immediately offered to write songs for her. In 1959 Mouskouri performed Hadjidakis' Kapou Iparchi I Agapi Mou (co-written with poet Nikos Gatsos) 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, Timoria and Kiparissaki. Both these songs tied for first prize. Mouskouri performed Kostas Yannidis' composition, Xypna Agapi Mou, at the Mediterranean Song Festival, held in Barcelona that year. The song won first prize, and she 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 from a folk melody by Hadjidakis. It became an enormous hit, selling over a million copies in Germany. The song was later translated into several different languages and it went on to become one of Mouskouri's signature tunes.

Family life

Mouskouri married Yorgos ("George") Petsilas in 1961. Mouskouri and Petsilas have two children, a son, Nicolas, born on February 13, 1968 and a daughter, Hélène, nicknamed Lénou, born on July 6, 1970. In 1974, Mouskouri and Petsilas separated and in 1975 were officially divorced.

Mouskouri currently lives in Switzerland with her second husband, André Chapelle, whom she married on January 13, 2003.

Life outside Greece

In 1962, she met Quincy Jones, who persuaded her to travel to New York City to record an album of American jazz titled The Girl From Greece Sings. Following that she scored another hit in the United Kingdommarker with My Colouring Book.

In 1963 she left Greece to live permanently in Paris. Mouskouri performed Luxembourgmarker's entry in the Eurovision Song Contest 1963 that year, À Force de Prier. The song became an international hit, and helped win her the prestigious Grand Prix du Disque in France. Mouskouri soon attracted the attention of French composer Michel Legrand, who composed her two major French hits Les Parapluies de Cherbourg (1964) and L'Enfant au Tambour (1965).

In 1965 she recorded her second English-language album to be released in the United States, entitled Nana Sings. American Calypso musician Harry Belafonte heard and liked the album. Belafonte brought Mouskouri on tour with him through 1966. They teamed for a live duo album entitled An Evening With Belafonte/Mouskouri. During this tour, Belafonte told Mouskouri to remove her signature black-rimmed glasses when on stage. She was so unhappy with the request that she wanted to quit the show after only two days. Finally, Belafonte relented and respected her wishes to perform with her glasses.

Mouskouri's 1967 French album Le Jour Où la Colombe raised her to superstardom in France. This album featured many of her French songs, Au Coeur de Septembre, Adieu Angélina, Robe Bleue, Robe Blanche and the French pop classic Le Temps des Cerises. Mouskouri made her first appearance at Paris' legendary Olympia concert theater the same year, singing French pop, Greek folk, and Hadjidakis numbers.

In 1968, Mouskouri turned her attention to the British market and hosted a BBC TV series called Presenting Nana Mouskouri. The next year she released a full-length British LP, Over and Over. It became a smash hit that spent almost two years on the UK charts. She expanded her concert tour to Australia (where she met Frank Hardy, who followed her to the south of France in 1976), New Zealand and Japan. She even managed to record a few Japanese songs for the Japanese market. In France, she released a series of top-selling albums that included Comme un Soleil, Une Voix Qui Vient du Cœur, Vielles Chansons de France, and Quand Tu Chantes.

Middle years

In 1979, Mouskouri had another English-language album named Roses and Sunshine. This album consisting largely of folk and country material, and included work from such diverse sources as Neil Young, Dolly Parton, Bob Dylan and John Denver. It was very well received in Canada, and one of the album's tracks, "Even Now" (not the same song as the 1978 Barry Manilow hit), became a staple on beautiful music radio stations in the United States. She scored a worldwide hit in 1981 with Je Chante Avec Toi, Liberté, which was translated into several languages after its widespread success in France. The momentum from this album also helped boost her following German album, Mein Lieder sind mein Leben. In 1984, Mouskouri returned to Greece for her first live performance in her homeland since 1962.

In 1985, Mouskouri recorded Only Love, the theme song to the BBC TV series Mistral's Daughter — based upon the novel by Judith Krantz — that reached #2 in the UK charts. The song was also a hit in its foreign language versions: L'Amour en Héritage (French), Come un eridita (Italian), La dicha del almor (Spanish), and Aber die Liebe bleibt (German). The German version was also recorded with an alternate set of lyrics under the title Der wilde Wein but was withdrawn in favour of Aber die Liebe bleibt.

That same year, Mouskouri made a play for the Spanish-language market with the hit single Con Todo el Alma. The song was a major success in Spainmarker, Argentinamarker and Chilemarker. She released five albums in different languages in 1987, and the following year returned to her classical conservatory roots with the double LP The Classical Nana (aka Nana Classique), which featured some of her favorite opera excerpts. By the end of 1987, she performed a series of concerts in Asia, including South Koreamarker, Taiwanmarker, Singaporemarker, Hong Kongmarker, Malaysiamarker and Thailandmarker.


A French language autobiography appeared in 1989 titled "Chanter ma vie" (Singing my life).

In 2006, Greek publisher A.A. Livanis published a biography in Greek appeared titled "To onoma mou ine Nana" (My name is Nana). In autumn 2007, the French and English versions of this biography appeared under the titles "Nana Mouskouri — Memoires — La fille de la Chauve-souris" (XO publishers) and "Nana Mouskouri — Memoirs" (Orion Publishing Group).

The later years

Mouskouri's 1991 English album, Only Love: The Best of Nana Mouskouri became her best-selling release in the United States. She spent much of the 1990s with her rigorous global touring schedule. Among her early 1990s albums were spiritual music, Gospel (1990), the Spanish-language Nuestras Canciones, the multilingual, Mediterranean-themed Côté Sud, Côté Coeur (1992), Dix Mille Ans Encore, Falling in Love Again: Great Songs From the Movies. Falling in Love reunited her with Harry Belafonte on two songs.

She recorded several more albums over 1996-1997, including the Spanish Nana Latina (which featured duets with Julio Iglesias and Mercedes Sosa), the English-language Return to Love, and the French pop classics, Hommages. In 1997, she staged a high-profile Concert for Peace at the Cathedral of St. John the Divinemarker in New York. This concert was later released as an album, and aired as a TV special on PBS in the U.S.

In 1993, Nana recorded the album, Hollywood. It was produced by Michel Legrand. Hollywood is a collection of famous film songs, which served not only as a tribute to the world of cinema, but also as a personal reference to childhood memories of sitting with her father in his projection room in Crete.


Mouskouri was appointed a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in October 1993. She took over from the previous ambassador, the recently deceased actress Audrey Hepburn. Mouskouri's first U.N. mission took her to Bosniamarker to draw attention to the plight of children affected by Bosnian war. She was deeply moved by her experience in Bosnia and went on to give a series of fund-raising concerts in Swedenmarker and Belgiummarker.

She was elected a Member of the European Parliamentmarker from 1994 until 1999, when she resigned from her position as an MEP, reportedly because as a pacifist, she refused to back wars.

21st century and retirement

Mouskouri currently lives in Switzerlandmarker with Chapelle, and performed hundreds of concerts each year for several years. In 2004, her French record company released an unprecedented 34-CD box set of more than 600 of Mouskouri's mostly-French songs. In 2006 she made a guest appearance at that year's Eurovision Song Contest which was held, for the first time ever, in her native Greece. In the same year, she announced her plans to retire soon. In 2008, she held a farewell concert tour of Europe, Australia, Asia, South America, the United Statesmarker, and Canadamarker. On July 24, 2008, Mouskouri gave her final stage performance at the ancient Herodes Atticus theatre, in Athensmarker, Greecemarker, before a packed stadium, including Greece's prime minister and the mayors of Berlin, Paris and Luxembourg.

Record sales

Universal Music Group, which has come to acquire over the decades virtually all the labels under which Mouskouri recorded, claims that Nana Mouskouri has sold more than 300 million discs worldwide, recording about 1,500 songs in 15 languages on 450 albums. She has more than 230 gold and platinum albums worldwide.

Partial discography

  • Nana Mouskouri Canta canciones populares griegas (1960)
  • I megales epitichies tis Nana Mouskouri (1961)
  • Ta prota mas tragoudia (1961)
  • The White Rose of Athens (1961)
  • Greece, Land of Dreams (1962)
  • The Girl From Greece Sings (1962)
  • Roses Blanches de Corfu (1962)
  • Ce Soir A Luna Park (1962)
  • Crois-Moi ça durera (1962)
  • Un homme est venu (1963)
  • Sings Greek Songs-Never On Sunday (1963)
  • Celui Que j'aime (1964)
  • The Voice of Greece (1964)
  • Chante en Grec (1965)
  • Nana Mouskouri et Michael Legrand (1965)
  • Griechische Gitarren mit Nana Mouskouri (1965)
  • Nana Mouskouri in Italia (1965)
  • Nana's Choice (1965)
  • Nana Sings (1965)
  • An Evening with Belafonte/Mouskouri (1966)
  • Le Cœur trop tendre (1966)
  • Strasse der hunderttausend Lichter (1966)
  • Nana Mouskouri in Paris (1966)
  • Moje Najlepse grčke pesme -Yugoslavia- (1966)
  • Pesme Moje zemlje -Yugoslavia- (1966)
  • Un souvenir du congres (1967)
  • Nana Mouskouri à'lOlympia (1967)
  • Showboat (1967)
  • Chants de mon pays (1967)
  • Singt Ihre Grossen Erfolge (1967)
  • Le Jour où la Colombe (1967)
  • Nana (1968)
  • What now my love (1968)
  • Une soirée avec Nana Mouskouri (1969)
  • Dans le soleil et dans le vent (1969)
  • Over and Over (1969)
  • The exquisite Nana Mouskouri (1969)
  • Mouskouri International (1969)
  • Grand Gala (1969)
  • Verzoekprogramma (1969)
  • Le Tournesol (1970)
  • Nana Recital 70 (1970)
  • Sings Hadjidakis (1970)
  • Turn On the sun (1970)
  • Bridge Over troubled water (1970)
  • My favorite Greek songs(1970)*
  • After Midnight (1971)
  • A Touch of French (1971)
  • Love story (1971)
  • Pour les enfants (1971)
  • Comme un soleil (1971)
  • A place in my heart (1971)
  • Chante la Grèce (1972)
  • Lieder meiner Heimat (1972)
  • Xypna Agapi mou (1972)
  • Christmas with Nana Mouskouri (1972)
  • British concert (1972)
  • Une voix... qui vivent du coeur (1972)
  • Spiti mou spitaki mou (1972)
  • Presenting...Songs from her TV series (1973)
  • Vieilles Chansons de France (1973)
  • Chante Noël (1973)
  • Day is Done (1973)
  • An American album (1973)
  • Nana Mouskouri au théatre des champs-Elysées (1974)
  • Que je sois un ange... (1974)
  • Nana's Book of Songs (1974)
  • The most beautiful songs (1974)
  • Adieu mes amis (1974)
  • Le temps des cerises (1974)
  • If You Love me (1974)
  • The magic of Nana Mouskouri (1974)
  • Sieben Schwarze Rosen (1975)
  • Toi qui t'en vas (1975)
  • Träume sind Sterne (1975)
  • At The Albert Hall (1975)
  • Quand tu chantes (1976)
  • Die Welt ist voll Licht (1976)
  • Lieder die mann nie vergisst (1976)
  • Nana in Holland (1976)
  • Songs of the British isles (1976)
  • Love goes on (1976)
  • Quand Tu Chantes(1976)
  • An Evening with Nana Mouskouri (1976)
  • Ein Portrait (1976)
  • La récréation (1976)
  • Passport (1976)
  • Une voix (1976)
  • Alleluia (1977)
  • Glück ist wie ein Schmetterling (1977)
  • Star für Millionen (1977)
  • Geliebt und bewundert (1977)
  • Lieder, die die Liebe schreibt (1978)*
  • Nouvelles chansons de la Vieille France (1978)
  • Les enfants du Pirée (1978)
  • Roses and Sunshine (1979)
  • Vivre au Soleil (1979)
  • Sing dein Lied (1979)
  • Kinderlieder (1979)
  • Come with me (1980)
  • Vivre avec toi (1980)
  • Die stimme in concert (1980)
  • Wenn ich träum (1980)
  • Alles Liebe (1981)
  • Je Chante Avec Toi, Liberté (1981)
  • Ballades (1982)
  • Song for liberty (1982)
  • Farben (1983)
  • Quand on revient (1983)
  • La dame de cœur (1984)
  • Athina (1984)
  • I endekati entoli (1985)
  • Ma vérité (1985)
  • Alone (1985)
  • Libertad (1986)
  • Kleine Wahrheiten (1986)
  • Tu m'oublies (1986)
  • Why Worry? (1986)
  • Only Love (1986)
  • Love Me Tender (1987)
  • Tierra Viva (1987)
  • Du und Ich (1987)
  • Par amour (1987)
  • Classique (1988)
  • A voice from the heart (1988)
  • The magic of Nana Mouskouri (1988)
  • Concierto en Aranjuez (1989)
  • Tout Simplement 1&2 (1989)
  • Weinachts Lieder (1989)
  • Taxidotis (1990)
  • Gospel (1990)
  • Only Love: The Best of Nana Mouskouri (1991)
  • Nuestras canciones 1&2 (1991)
  • Am Ziel meiner Reise (1991)
  • Côté Sud - Côté Cœur (1992)
  • Hollywood (1993)
  • Falling in Love again (1993)
  • Dix mille ans encore (1994)
  • Agapi in'i zoi (1994)
  • Nur ein Lied (1995)
  • Nana Latina (1996)
  • Hommages (1997)
  • Return to Love (1997)
  • The Romance of Nana Mouskouri (1997)
  • Concert for peace (1998)
  • Chanter la vie (1998)
  • As time goes by (1999)
  • The Christmas Album (2000)
  • At Her Very Best (2001)
  • Erinnerungen (2001)
  • Songs the whole world loves (2001)
  • Fille du soleil (2002)
  • Un bolero Por Favor (2002)
  • Ode to Joy (2002)
  • Nana Swings (2003)
  • Ich hab'gelacht, ich hab'geweint (2004)
  • L'Integrale/Collection-34 CD Box Set (2004)
  • A Canadian Tribute (2004)
  • I'll Remember You (2005)
  • Complete English Works/Collection-17 CD Box Set (2005)
  • Moni Perpato (2006)
  • Le Ciel est Noir - les 50 plus belles chansons (3 CD) (2007)
  • The Ultimate Collection (2007)
  • Les 100 plus belles chansons (5 CD) (2007)
  • 50 Hronia Tragoudia (50 Years Of Songs)

See also


External links

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