SMS.COM.AU REPORTS – She was sure her farewell tour in 2005 would be her last, but fortune has smiled on legendary singer Nana Mouskouri. “When I was [in Australia] years ago I thought it would be the last time, but I’ve had the privilege to live a little longer so I’ve decided to come back. I’m very lucky to be able to do that,” she said.
It turns out curiosity got the better of Mouskouri. Her lifelong love of learning has coaxed her out of retirement and back onto the road in search of new sights and sounds.
While her upcoming performances will acknowledge her stellar career and “look back at [her] whole life”, the 80-year-old insisted she couldn’t go on tour again “without telling something new”. “Lately I have been listening a lot more to the younger generation of artists. I admire them very much,” she said. “Singers like Whitney Houston and Amy Winehouse – singers who have brought something different. “It’s the same message about love and life, but progressed. Love is still always there, just expressed in a different way.”
Mouskouri hoped to deliver a few surprises to her adoring fans, though there would “be some Greek songs, of course”.
“Songs reflect life always. I always enjoyed listening to other singers. I was lucky to have a producer of my first album 50 years ago in Quincy Jones, then I met Harry Belafonte, then I met a lot of artists,” she said. “When I sing it follows my feelings. I still remain with my heart and express my emotions through my singing.”
Over the years, Mouskouri has shown a remarkable affinity for languages – she speaks Greek, French, German, English and Spanish and has recorded songs in many more. “When I sing in languages, it’s not because I want to prove something, I do it because it gives me the chance to learn and brings variety to my program. The feelings are the same,” she said. “It’s a bit harder because you have to spend more time learning the meaning. You need to understand the language before you are able to pronounce it. I have a very good ear. “I’d love to learn more, but I think it’s just a matter of time.”
It was that talent for languages which helped launch her to international stardom. Her signature tune, The White Rose Of Athens, featured in the soundtrack of a German documentary and subsequently flew off of the shelves at record stores. Her ability to speak and sing in French led to an invitation to represent the small country of Luxembourg in the 1963 Eurovision Song Contest.
However, Mouskouri is one of the few performers genuinely glad to have not placed highly in the competition. “It was very difficult because I wasn’t used to being in a television studio, it was all new to me. The audience for me is the most important,” she recalled. “I didn’t win, I came eighth but I think the exposure was wonderful. This was the time when Harry Belafonte saw me on the television, he was in London at the time, and he decided to ask me to go with him on tour. “He was searching for a new young singer to introduce to his audience and there I was. I was lucky I didn’t win, in the end.” Despite the awkwardness of performing only to a camera crew, Mouskouri’s talent for the tube was apparent. “The producer of the Eurovision program, she was one of the first female producers, she asked me afterwards to start doing a TV musical series,” she said. “They were broadcast all over the world, so I think my international life really started in London with that series.”
Later this month, she will revisit her Eurovision roots in a BBC television program which will mark the 60th anniversary of the contest. “I was very ecstatic about it. I’m going to be there, I’m very excited,” she said. After that, Mouskouri will embark on her five-city tour of Australia, which will end at the Perth Concert Hall on 19 April.