|Birth Day:||October 13, 1934|
|Birth Place:||Chania, Greece|
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She was chosen to continue her studies when her instructor informed her parents that it was the best thing for her, as well as her own choice. Her family was part of the anti-Nazi resistance in Greece during World War II.
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 began singing with her friends' jazz group at night. However, when Mouskouri's Conservatory professor found out about Mouskouri's involvement with a genre of music that was not in keeping with her classical studies, he prevented her from sitting for her end-of-year exams. During an episode of "Joanna Lumley's Greek Odyssey", shown on the UK ITV channel in the autumn of 2011, Mouskouri told the actress Joanna Lumley how she had been scheduled to sing at the amphitheatre at Epidauros with other students of the Conservatoire, when upon arrival at the amphitheatre word came through from the Conservatoire in Athens that she had just been barred from participating in the performance there due to her involvement in light music. Mouskouri subsequently left the Conservatoire and began performing at the Zaki club in Athens.
She 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, she met Greek composer Manos Hadjidakis. Hadjidakis was impressed by Nana's voice and offered to write songs for her. In 1959 Mouskouri performed Hadjidakis' "Κάπου υπάρχει η αγάπη μου" (Kápou ipárchi i agápi mou, "Somewhere my love exists"; 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, "Τιμωρία" (Timōría, "Punishment") and "Κυπαρισσάκι" (Kyparissáki, "Little cypress"). Both these songs tied for first prize. Mouskouri performed Kostas Yannidis' composition, "Ξύπνα αγάπη μου" (Xýpna agápi mou, "Wake up, my love"), 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 1960, Mouskouri moved to Paris. She performed Luxembourg's entry in the Eurovision Song Contest 1963 that year, "À force de prier". Although the song achieved only eighth place in the contest, it achieved commercial success, and helped win her the prestigious Grand Prix du Disque in France. Mouskouri soon attracted the attention of French composer Michel Legrand, who composed two songs which became major French hits for her: "Les Parapluies de Cherbourg" (1964) and an arrangement of Katherine K. Davis's "Carol of the Drum", "L'Enfant au Tambour" (1965).
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.
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 Kingdom with the song "My Colouring Book" (later included in her 1973 album Songs from her TV series). In 1965, she recorded her second English-language album to be released in the United States, entitled Nana Sings. American singer Harry Belafonte heard and liked the album. Belafonte brought Mouskouri on tour with him through 1966. They teamed for a duo album entitled An Evening With Belafonte/Mouskouri. During this tour, Belafonte suggested that Mouskouri 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 wish to perform while wearing glasses.
On September 15, 1965, Mouskouri appeared for the first time on American television with Harry Belafonte on the Danny Kaye Show. While on the show Mouskouri performed "Telalima" followed by "Όπα νινα ναϊ" (Opa nina nai) accompanied by Harry Belafonte and Danny Kaye.
Mouskouri's 1967 French album Le Jour où la colombe raised her to super-stardom in France. This album featured many of her French songs, "Au cœur 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 theatre the same year, singing French pop, Greek folk, and Hadjidakis numbers.
Mouskouri has been married twice: firstly at 25, to Yorgos (George) Petsilas, a guitarist in her backing band (the trio "The Athenians") and the first man she had kissed. They had two children (Nicolas Petsilas in 1968 and Hélène (Lénou) Petsilas (singer) in 1970) but divorced when Mouskouri was 39. Not long after that, she started a relationship with her record producer André Chapelle, but they did not marry then because she "didn't want to bring another father into the family" and divorce was against her conservative upbringing. They eventually married on January 13, 2003, and live primarily in Switzerland.
In 1969, Mouskouri released a full-length British LP, Over and over, which reached number 10 and spent almost two years in the UK album charts. This was the first of a series of English-language albums which, boosted by her TV appearances, sold extremely well in the UK and Ireland, as well as in other European countries, during the early 1970s, including The exquisite Nana Mouskouri (1969), Turn on the sun (1970), A place in my heart (1971) and Presenting... Nana Mouskouri (1973), while concerts from two of her British tours were also recorded and released as LPs: British Concert (1972) and Live at the Albert Hall (1974).
Although music series such as hers were becoming less common on British TV as the 1970s wore on, the BBC continued to engage her regularly for one-off television specials and guest appearances on other programmes until the mid-1980s, by which time she had been a regular contributor to British TV for more than 20 years. Meanwhile, during the 1970s and 1980s, she expanded her concert tour to include her new fans, not only in the United Kingdom, but also in Ireland, New Zealand, Japan and Australia, where she met Frank Hardy, who followed her to the south of France in 1976.
Always a prolific recording artist, the 1970s saw Mouskouri record several LPs in German, including the hit albums, Sieben schwarze Rosen (1975) and Lieder, die die Liebe schreibt (1978). In France, she continued a series of top-selling records, such as Comme un soleil (1971), Une voix qui vient du cœur (1972), Vieilles chansons de France (1973), and Quand tu chantes (1976). Meanwhile, Passport, a compilation including her most popular songs in English, reached number 3 in the UK album charts in 1976 and won for her a gold disc.
As her fame began spreading outside her fanbase in Europe, the USA and the Commonwealth, Mouskouri was asked to record songs for the Japanese market. Meanwhile, in 1976, a renowned Taiwanese author, Echo, heard her music and introduced it to one of her female radio DJ friends. Mouskouri's records then became popular in Taiwan, especially among high school and college students, with one of her British albums, Nana's book of songs (1974) becoming particularly popular.
In 1976, Ronnie Barker performed a song in drag as a parody of Mouskouri in The Two Ronnies as Nana Moussaka. Mouskouri was also parodied in the first episode of the 1970s New Zealand political satire A Week Of It.
In 1979, Mouskouri released another English-language album named Roses and Sunshine. This album consisted largely of folk and country material, and included work from sources including Neil Young, Dolly Parton, Bob Dylan and John Denver. It was 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 success in France. The momentum from this album also helped boost her following German album, Meine Lieder sind mein Leben. 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.
In 1985, Mouskouri recorded "Only Love", the theme song to the British TV series Mistral's Daughter – based upon the novel by Judith Krantz – which reached number 2 in the UK charts. The song was also a hit in its other versions: L'Amour en Héritage (French), Come un'eredità (Italian), La dicha del amor (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.
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 (a.k.a. Nana Classique), which featured adaptations of classical songs and excerpts from opera. By the end of 1987, she had performed a series of concerts in Asia, including South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Thailand.
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 touring the globe. 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 featured two duets with Harry Belafonte.
In 1991, British comedienne Victoria Wood mentioned Mouskouri in her original song, "The Reincarnation Song." The song was included in Wood's television special of that year, Victoria Wood: Sold Out.
In 1993, Mouskouri recorded the album Hollywood. Produced by Michel Legrand it was a collection of famous songs from films, and 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 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 recorded several more albums over 1996 and 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 Divine in New York. This concert was later released as an album, and aired as a TV special on PBS in the United States.
Karl Pilkington included Mouskouri as a clue in his contest 'Rockbusters', part of the radio show The Ricky Gervais Show on XFM. Broadcasting on December 31, 2005, the clue was "Me granny's taking a penalty. She better get the ball in the back of the net," initials (NM) = Nana Mouskouri (nanna must score 'ere). Gervais described this clue as "one of his best clues ever."
Mouskouri lives in Switzerland with Chapelle, and, until her final performance in 2008, performed hundreds of concerts every year throughout her career. In 2004, her French record company released a 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 2010, in response to the financial crisis in Greece, Mouskouri announced that she would forgo her pension to contribute to the country's recovery. She commented: "Everywhere I see stories about my country going bankrupt. And people are aggressive about it. It's frightening. And it's painful for me. Nobody wants their country to be treated badly. It's frustrating and very sad."
In late 2011, Mouskouri released two newly recorded CDs, the first featuring songs of the Greek Islands, recorded with other Greek singers, and the second featuring duets with French contemporaries. In late November 2011 Mouskouri sang again at a single concert, with guests, in Berlin, commemorating the 50th anniversary of her hit single "The White Rose of Athens". She then did a concert tour in Germany in 2012. At age 80, she embarked on a three-year Happy Birthday Tour and in 2018 had booked a five-month Forever Young Tour through parts of Europe and North America.
On 30 May 2013, Mouskouri was awarded an honorary degree by McGill University, Canada.
In 2015 she was awarded with the Echo Music Prize for Outstanding achievements by the German music association Deutsche Phono-Akademie.
In 2015, Liina Vahtrik parodied her song "Only Love" on the Estonian version of Your Face Sounds Familiar.
Currently, Nana Mouskouri is 88 years, 3 months and 25 days old. Nana Mouskouri will celebrate 89th birthday on a Friday 13th of October 2023.
Find out about Nana Mouskouri birthday activities in timeline view here.