Label : Dahdoo Records (see www.dahdoo.net)
Producer : Christos Papastefanou and Alexandros
Engineer : Dimitrios Hatzisavas of Dahdoo Studios
Mastering : Steve Vavagiakis of Bang Zoom
Arrangement : Yianni Anastasopoulos
Musicians: Yianni Anastasopoulos : Keyboards
Nikos Hatzopoulos : Violin
Richard Khuzami : Percussion (Bendir, Darbuka, Daouli, Riq)
Gabriel Kontos : Lauto and Guitar
Traditional Greek island singer, Amalia Christodoulakis Papastefanou, was only twelve when neighbors and friends on her native island of Rhodes began to realize they would have to work together to bring this young girl the attention her exceptionally sweet-sounding and expressive voice so richly deserved. At a time when professional singing was frowned upon for women and girls unaccompanied in public venues, her father, Christos Christodoulakis, instead brought visitors to the family home. There, under a watchful eye, they could meet the family and hear his daughter’s beautiful voice. Local musicians, including the island’s finest violinist, Ilias Vasilarakis, became aware of Amalia’s talent this way. They invited her to sing with them and eventually arranged for Amalia to travel in the company of her mother, Maria, to the government-run radio station in Rhodes. There, for a program broadcasted once every week over a period of two years, Amalia sang the traditional songs she had learned from her mother and her grandmother, creating a legacy of recorded broadcasts which became, and remain in Greece today, a national treasure.
Greece’s central and largest national station, Radio Athens, soon evaluated the young singer from Rhodes and put her on the air across the nation. The attention she garnered did not wane there. Within a year Amalia was contacted by a more established Radio Athens singer, Domna Samiou, who took Amalia under her wing and introduced her to Phillips Fidelity studios in Athens, where Amalia would record her first album of twelve songs, selected from the repertoire that had been received so enthusiastically from her Rhodes radio broadcasts. Amalia’s mother, a traditional singer from Asia Minor, even more grounded in oral tradition and oral composition, would improvise fresher lyrics, set to the old melodies, on the way to the radio broadcasts. Amalia would hear her mother’s fresh compositions just one time, memorize them instantly, and sing them immediately on the air. Twelve songs from this early Rhodes radio period and one brilliant first album later, Amalia’s recording career had only just begun; so had her new family.
Now married to Panagiotis Papastefanou, Amalia had had two sons by 1967, the year she would emigrate, to unite their young family with her husband’s extended family, all of whom had already emigrated to the United States. Her youngest son, Yiannis, who would inherit her legacy of songs and grow into a professional singer in his own right, was born in 1970, in the new land. And so, apparently, in 1967, Amalia’s discographic history had ended.
However, as her sons Constantine, Christos, and Yiannis affirm, the singing went on. In the Papastefanou household, mother and children sang every day, and in New York Amalia found herself free to perform in Greek Church choruses, at weddings, and at many other community events.
HellasFM radio broadcaster Athanasios Tzouvelis (artistic name Alexandros Velmos as he is known in the New York Greek community) was thrilled to recognize Amalia and hear her singing at a community celebration in New York’s Crystal Palace in 1978. Through Tzouvelis she met Richard Khuzami of Dahdoo Productions in Astoria, Queens. Dahdoo has just issued a CD, (featuring Greek Island violin virtuoso NIKOS HATZOPOULOS), which is Amalia’s first recording after more than forty-five years.This recording is the first and only release of her traditional songs, still sung so expressively in the old island style, in the United States. The release of this new and historic recording has been timed to coincide with Amalia’s performance at this year’s New York World Festival at SUMMERSTAGE in Central Park, NYC. It is also available at www.dahdoo.net.
Biographical Notes Copyright 2007 by Eileen Condon, reprinted courtesy of The Center for Traditional Music and Dance www.ctmd.org