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Nana Mouskouri - Greek International Legend
Half a Century of Selling Records
One of the most beloved singers of all time, Nana Mouskouri has been performing and recording for more than 50 years. While numbers of lifetime record sales can be controversial, there’s little question that she’s sold more than 300 million albums; the company which manages most of her material claims in excess of 400 million. In either case, her sales make her the best-selling female recording artist of all time, and put her in the company of artists like The Beatles, Elvis and Frank Sinatra. She has recorded something like 1,500 songs, released more than 450 albums, of which about 230 went gold or platinum. She has also been a very active live performer and even though she gave a worldwide farewell tour (2005-2008) she has not yet completely retired: she recently announced a multi-city tour of Germany for early 2012.
Recorded in Fifteen Languages
She has toured extensively all over the world, performing on all the continents with the possible exception of Antarctica. She has also performed and recorded in more than 15 different languages, including Greek, French, English, German, Dutch, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Hebrew, Welsh, Mandarin Chinese, Corsican, Latin, Japanese, Maori and Turkish. She speaks at least seven languages fluently.
There’s no question that Nana Mouskouri creates something with her singing that touches and excites millions of people all over the world. Her beautiful voice and evocative emotional quality seems to resonate with people. And she has not only recorded in many different languages and performed in many different countries; she’s also very fluent in a number of musical genres. As a young person, she was being trained classically for eight years at the highly competitive Athens Conservatory of Music, but even then her musical interests had a wide scope. In fact, her decision to begin performing jazz in local nightclubs led to her being refused the chance to graduate from the Conservatory. And this was not the only example of her going her own way. At one point she was denied the chance to continue performing at a club, despite her already significant success, because she was too heavy and wore glasses. Not only did she refuse to perform without her trademark glasses then, she continues to wear them in performance to this day. In fact, she nearly left a tour with Harry Belafonte on the second day when he tried to persuade her to perform without them.
Most people see a connection between the quality of her music and her ability to connect with her audience and her good and stout heart. She has been very active in philanthropy, agreeing to perform in benefit concerts, for example to benefit a Greek organization working against stigma suffered by those with mental illness, and donating part of her concert income, for example to Korean victims of a massive oil spill. She was also elected a Member of European Parliament and served from 1994 to 1999. Her appointment as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF, a post she took over from Audrey Hepburn, led to her traveling to and performing in Mexico, Chile, Viet Nam, Bosnia, Sweden and Belgium as a humanitarian working for the benefit of suffering children. "I always try to see things with children's eyes," she wrote in 1997. As a gesture of solidarity with Greece in its current fiscal emergency she has turned down her pension.