Greek to Me!: Who is Despina Vandi?

Being a die-hard Despina Vandi fan, I hear it all the time.  “Who is Despina Vandi anyway?”  She’s the best female vocalist of all times, in my book.  She has sold over one million records and has been dubbed the Queen of Greek Pop by Time magazine.

Then, I am asked.  “Are you Greek?”  Nope.  I am not Greek at all.  I am American with not even a smidgeon of Greek roots in my blood that I know of.  But I am an avid music lover and have fallen in love with the powerful singer who belts soul-felt songs out with the ease that only a true natural can do.  She just moves you or at least she does me.

“Gia” was the first song I ever heard Despina sing.  It was totally by accident that I heard her.  It was in 2003 when the song had just come out and I was cruising with my older sister, jamming to the car radio.  When the song was played, we had the convertible top down and attempted to sing the Greek song along with her.

It was one of those teen-age moments you look back on and laugh at but for a moment in time, my sister and I were Greek Goddesses.  Now, when I hear Despina Vandi sing, it takes me back to the frozen freeze frame, my long hair blowing in the summer breeze, my sister at the wheel and we were stars, Goddesses and forever young.

One thing that really attracted me to the story of Despina was that early on, she went by the name “Elli Mara” to hide her identity from her parents who had no clue she was singing.  Her real given name is Despina Malea.  Eventually the secret was out and she switched over to the name, “Despina Vandi”.

I began following Despina Vandi.  I have yet to ever hear a bad song she has performed although I do have my personal favorites. “Opa Opa” was the next hit I listened to after “Gia” and “Come Along Now” came along the year after that.  I adore “Koritsi Prama, Part 2” which to me symbolizes her comeback from some extended off time.

It was the voice that attracted me initially.  Her unique and mighty voice demands attention.  It has an undeniable presence.  But it’s the behind the scene life that really keeps me glued to her.  I have followed her through her musical successes and the birth of her children, her car accident, her brief acting career and now, the hosting of Eurosong.

Am I obsessed with Despina?  You might say that I am.  I have collected every album she has put out and have a good bit of memorabilia about her such as newspaper articles and such.  If anything has to do with Despina Vandi, I am all ears.  Obsessed?  I’m not sure.  Perhaps I have a girl-crush on her or, perhaps I am just one of many that appreciates the angelic voice and the captivating human being that she truly is.

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