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Singing Sensation Margarita: "A Dream Come True"

New Greek TV's Greek of the Week is Greek-American singing sensation Margarita.

The Bay Area born vocalist has performed in venues across Greece, the United States, Australia, Canada, China, Cuba, Germany, and beyond, and is widely known for her appearance on Greece's "Fame Story". As the entertainer, who has a sultry and romantic stage presence stated at an early age, "A life without music was not possible. It defined me."

Greek TV personality and lyricist Evi Droutsa has compared Margarita's electrifying voice to the legendary Marinella. In our interview below, the singer who performs in both English and Greek, reveals how she got her start, her big breaks as of yet, career highlights, future aspirations, and more. To watch Margarita belt out Never On Sunday, scroll to the very bottom of this page, and to learn more about her talents visit:https://www.facebook.com/Margaritaintlmusic

Maria Athens: When did you begin studying piano and voice? What initially drew you to music?

Margarita: I'd like to think I came into this world singing a high C, but only screams were heard on that Halloween night. All joking aside, music was an every day part of life growing up - it still is. My parents, supportive of my passion from day one, enrolled me in Suzuki method piano lessons to develop my ear.

Singing just came naturally. I was always singing - and it was really my "Yiayia" who led me to believe I could "be a star." She used to make me sing on tabletops at restaurants!  As far as voice lessons, I didn't have any formal training until university, where I received my bachelors in Music in Vocal Performance.

Maria Athens: Can you tell us about your Bay Area Greek-American upbringing? What compelled you to sing primarily in Greek? Do you sing in both languages?

Margarita: I was a bit of a late bloomer onto the "scene." I didn't grow up speaking Greek or traveling to Greece each summer, but there was always an open door policy at our house and copious amounts of spanakopita and homemade, strained yogurt (that was of course before Fage started their international distribution).  Attending the local Greek Orthodox church every Sunday really helped develop a sense of community and love for God and tradition.

Once I discovered Greek folk dancing and really listened to a Greek song other than "Pote tha Kanei Xasteria," I was hypnotized for life. Hearing the depth and passion in Haris Alexiou's voice struck a chord in my heart. I was 16, and I learned to sing and play "O Marmaromenos Vasilias" (The Marble King) on guitar and it completely changed my musical direction.

I was already very involved in musical theatre and jazz studies in high school, singing primarily in English and some Spanish. But I HAD to learn Greek. And I did. I ate, slept, and drank listening to Greek music, and fell asleep to "Antenna" Satelite's reruns of Proinos Kafes. I learned song after song, tried to identify with the trials of the Rembetika era, studied Xatzidakis and Plessas and watched any old Greek movie with Vougiouklaki and Melina I could get my hands on. And when I visited Greece for the first time at 17 I thought, "I'm going to live and sing here some day."

Maria Athens: Can you describe your singing career, leading up to starring on Greece's "Fame Story"?

Margarita: I was very into world music and classical music in college. They were two thriving departments at my university that expanded my musical horizons. I was singing in Italian, French, German, Russian, Latin, Spanish, and English. As if that wasn't enough, I was also in a Greek band! It was an opportunity for me to perform, learn songs, study different scales and meld these Eastern and Western styles I was so immersed in.

After graduation, I got my first taste of "bouzoukia." Boy was I in for a culture shock! I moved to Chicago and sang in Greek Town four nights a week, then moved to LA to pursue a song-writing/recording project. While in Southern California, my friends encouraged me to audition for a show called "Fame Story". They said this American girl from New York had won and they thought I would be a perfect candidate. So when auditions came to New York, I decided to take my chances. And I'm glad I did.

Maria Athens: Can you elaborate on your "Fame Story" experience?

Margarita: Going to Greece to be on a reality TV show seemed like a dream come true. I was over the moon. I was totally green. I was just so appreciative and happy to be there, that I had no idea that there was a "game" to play. It's not like "The Voice" where judges backs are turned and they are forced only to listen. It was like "Big Brother" had a talent show once a week. Our day-to-day was aired 7 nights a week, 23 hours a day. We had no contact with the outside world, books, cell phones, just ourselves and our weekly "Fame" academy assignments. I loved it!

Our audience (which spanned all over the world via Antenna Satellite) fell in love (or not) with their favorite characters and voted for the ones they wanted to see more of. I was happy to have stayed till the final 8, but anyone that got paired with the infamous Periklis was voted off. He captured the hearts of many and swept the winning title. After that, I was guest starring regularly on programs like "Proinos Kafes," the same show that lulled me to sleep only a few years prior. It was a dream come true.

Maria Athens: Are the native Greeks big fans of yours? Is it challenging to break into the Greek market?

Margarita: It's a challenge to break into any music market, but the Greek market was much different than the one I was accustomed to in the U.S. It was bouzoukia or bust at that time and I was trying to fit in - and it's sink or swim in Greece, which really taught me so much about survival, competition, and persistence. Because of the show, I had an advantage. I was recognized everywhere and singing at some of the most sought after nightclubs in Greece. My English really helped as well, and singing in both languages without an "accent" was another ace up my sleeve.

Maria Athens: You have performed all over the world; what locations and appearances stand out most? What have been the highlights of your career so far?

Margarita: The "Top Ten" of "Fame Story" got to do a world tour, and some of us did concerts in smaller numbers. It was so exciting. We traveled Greece in it's entirety; Canada, the U.S., Europe, and were treated like royalty. It was unforgettable. I based myself in Athens singing at clubs like Thea, Fever & Fix.

I was lucky to be taken under the wing of Nikos Makropoulos. I stayed with him for a year opening up at these top spots. In the States I have opened for the "Voice of Greece," Glykeria two times, sung with Anna Vissi, the sons of Legends Bithikotsis, Parios, Dionisou, and Kokotas, and more. One of my most memorable adventures was a season in Melbourne, Australia at Kinisi Live.

Maria Athens: What major artists have you collaborated with? Which ones have had the most impact on your own career and aspirations?

Margarita: There are a handful of people I collaborate with still today whom I admire and wish the same "success" I aspire for. And as I will never forget my experience with the ever so talented and lovely Glykeria, there are a few names that I hope will be recognized in the regard I hold for them.

Composer and pianist Ioannis Goudelis dedicates his life to his craft. His road is endless and his journey becomes more of his own as time goes by. He has taught me to approach my career in this way, and it continues to better me as a singer and musician.  Columnist and writer Frosene Phillips has a drive and passion that seems limitless. I strive for her energy and joie de vivre. They are my rocks. I have yet to collaborate with Eleftheria Arvanitaki and Haris Alexiou ;)

Maria Athens: What is the vision behind your album "Cine Ellinikon" (Greek Cinema)? What are your ultimate international musical goals?

Margarita: In my musical journey, I have found a real passion for the songs of Greek Cinema from the 50's, 60's & 70's. I love the spirit and romance, the combination of theatre and music - an experience for all the senses. I also feel it ties my study of classical music to the Greek world. Last year, Yiannis Goudelis and I decided to make a small demo and music video in hopes to do a bigger production of these cherished songs. They are songs coveted not only in Greece, but all over the world.

Singers like Nana Mouskouri and the popularity of movies like "Zorba the Greek" and "Never on Sunday" put Greece on the map and the world fell in love with Her. I want to do that again - especially during a time when She needs this kind of love and support. It's a beautiful country filled with talent and passion, good food, life, and most importantly, SOUL. I want to be a part of sharing that with the world.

Maria Athens: What musical feats are you most proud of?

Margarita: Practicing at least an hour a day (at least that's what I strive for).

Maria Athens: What exciting projects are you currently working on?

Margarita: Right now, I am working on a full production CD. With hopes to be in the studio this summer making a small dream become a big reality.


Last modified onFriday, 23 January 2015 20:40