Nana Mouskouri

The daughter of a film projectionist, Nana Mouskouri was born in Crete but raised in Athens and her obvious musical talent earned her a place at Athens Conservatoire, where she studied classical music with a view to singing opera. When the Nazis occupied Greece, her father worked for the resistance movement and Nana left the Conservatoire under a cloud when her growing interest in jazz music compromised her classical studies. Strongly influenced by Ella Fitzgerald, she started singing jazz in local night clubs and in 1957 she made her first recording, singing Fascination in both Greek and English. Greek composer Manos Hadjidakis offered to write songs for her and their collaboration resulting in her winning first prize at the Greek Song Festival, raising her profile and leading to a record contract in Paris. Meeting Quincy Jones in 1962 resulted in her first visit to New York where she recorded the jazz album The Girl From Greece Sings and in 1963 she sang Luxembourg's entry at the Eurovision Song Contest. French composer Michel Legrand wrote material for her and, following the release of her Nana Sings album she toured America with Harry Belafonte - becoming indelibly associated with her trademark horn-rimmed spectacles - and became a superstar in France and the rest of Europe. Her English language album Over & Over broke into the UK Top 10 and stayed in the charts for over two years, while she continued to diversify into folk and other musical genres and hosted her own TV shows as she became one of the most popular entertainers of the era. Nana continued to record and play concerts until announcing her retirement with a farewell tour through 2008, although she returned to the studio to record two new albums of Greek and French material in 2011.

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