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Βellou, Sotiria

(b Chalia [now Drosia], Chalkida, 1921; d Athens, 1997). Greek singer of rebetiko song, famous for the special quality and register of her voice. As a child she became familiar with Byzantine chanting through her grandfather, who was a priest. Against the will of her family and in order to fulfill her dream to become a singer, she moved to Athens, where she got married to a man prone to violence. All alone, having spent a short period of time in prison after attacking her husband with sulphuric acid, and still unwelcome by her family, she made her living partly as a singer in the tavernes (taverns) or as a street-vendor and a porter at the train station. During the Nazi Occupation she was actively involved in the leftist resistance movement, arrested, and tortured. In 1945 she was discovered by the rebetiko composer Vasilis Tsitsanis, who was thrilled by her voice and introduced her to the recording industry. Soon, her voice became famous in the recordings of Tsitsanis’s songs ‘Kane Ligaki Ypomoni’, ‘Synnefiasmeni Kyriaki’, ‘Otan Pineis Stin Taverna’, as well as in rebetiko songs by Apostolos Kaldaras and Giannis Papaioannou. Together with Tsitsanis they used to perform at the legendary ‘Tzimi tou Hontrou’ rebetiko venue among other places. Bellou thrived on stage and was acknowledged as the singer who refused to conform to the standard image of the female popular diva. During the 1970s and in the context of the revived interest in rebetiko song, she gained success through her collaborations with ‘art song’ (entechno) composers such as Dionysis Savvopoulos, Elias Andriopoulos, and Dimos Moutsis.

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‘As ta logia kata meros.’ Sotiria Bellou, voice. Sotiria Bellou Vol. 1 / Singers of Greek Popular song in 78 rpm / Recordings 1948 – 1950 (HELLENICRECORD: 2008). Audio.

Dafni Tragaki

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