Singing Fit

A professional dancer works out every day without fail. Even weekends! It could be with a trainer, instructor, or alone. There is no muscle that doesn’t get exercised to be ready for a performance. It is more than physical fitness. That’s for the rest of us who do it to keep in shape. It is the essence of the artistic craft to stay flexible and ready to execute the most difficult of steps. Lithe and limber, a dancer is a leaping gazelle at times and an emoting human at others. What about singers? How do they keep their voices fit and toned? Is there such a thing? Yes, there is. There is also a constant need to flex the vocal cords and keep them lubricated.

Anyone who performs must be in good form mentally and physically. How else can they keep pace with the demands of their schedules? Singers who are not pro dancers still move in time to the music and create a visual presence that is magnetic. At least the best ones do. It certainly accounts for their success and popularity. They do this by rehearsing to become really good. They create an image of themselves that is more than the sum of its parts. Spectators take it all in instinctively, not knowing how the singer as a personality is formed.

Dancers have specific exercises according to the style they embody. Ballet dancers work at the barre while tap dancers hug the wood floor. Ballroom dancers stretch and reach their arms to loosen their bodies and ready themselves for their partner. Singers can utilize any technique that gives them energy and life. It might be a series of stretches including head rolls and shoulder hunches. They might work their “core” with sit ups, and their arms with pushups or perhaps use some resistance bands, because it would be tough to bring a whole gym system with them. It is all part of a process of preparation for performance. Right before a show, I know that Despina warms up with her own pattern of movements. It keeps her focused and alert. She does everything well.

I haven’t seen many performers behind the curtain, but I do know how important exercise and fitness is in the entertainment industry. Their schedules can be hectic and they need plenty of sleep and off time. No late night carousing before a tour. The more a routine is adopted faithfully, the better the end results. A big plus is how attractive one can be after practicing a workout regimen for some time. Despina is surely witness to this fact! She is gorgeous and eye-catching. Her private work has paid off. She is a marvel before our very eyes.

Everyone can avail themselves of a routine exercise program, but it is of the utmost importance to actors, dancers, singers, and the like. Singers do dance while on the stage, of course, but at the very least they move to the music groove. I give them credit for their diligence in honing their craft and giving us something great to watch and enjoy.

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The Magic Behind the Music: Why I love Despina

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Despina Vandi is my idol.  I am obsessed with her music.  I am a fan of her as a person too.  Although she is Greek and I am American and she is quite a bit older than I am, I relate to her music and her personal life as well.

When I first heard Vandi, I was riding around town with my sister.  We were jamming with the radio up full blast and the convertible top down, our long hair blowing wildly in the wind.  It was then that “Gia” came on and it was love at first sound.  I fell in love with the song and adore it to this very day.  It takes me back to a much simpler place and time.

I guess it was in 2008 when I really realized how hooked I was on Despina.  I found out about her awful wreck and cried.  I later learned that she was alright and just had to be stitched up but it gave me quite a scare.

One year later, she married former soccer star, Demis Nikolaidis.  I followed all the stories about the wedding.  I knew it would only enhance her music to be so in love.

Phoebus is the composer of Despina’s music.  He is wonderful and I love how they are a real team.  They celebrate milestones together which warms my heart and makes the music even better like “10 Years Together”.  They truly make not only music, but magic, together.

Despina has the gift of reaching listeners of all genres and all generations.  She sings her heart out and no matter what language she sings in, she communicates.  That is what I love most about her is that I can relate to her, in song and in life.

When she had her two children, I grabbed every newspaper and magazine I could find with the information in it.  I did searches online and even sent presents.  I hope they made it to her and the little ones.

Another song that Is dear to me is “Opa, Opa”.  Opa is a Greek expression that has many meanings.  It is said when someone bumps into another but also can be used to when one is in an awkward moment.  It is also a shout of joy.  I find it really interesting that she put this word to song and did such a remarkable job at it.  It is internationally acclaimed and brings the endeared word to recognition, I feel.  That is a great example of how the Greek Queen of Pop can take such a personal thing and make it relatable.

I personally don’t think that Despina Vandi will ever go out of style.  She keeps up with the trends but even more than that, she is, herself, timeless.  She covers a large array of music, like rock and laiko, traditional music of Greece.  “Despina Vandi Live” is excellent because it shows her diversity.  It is a collection of her various types of music.

What makes Despina great to me is her presence on stage and her mighty and powerful vocals but also the way that she can get right into your heart.  She just has a way about her.  She is one of a kind.  Her music is fantastic but her magic makes it even better.

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My Love For Greek Music – New & Old

I adore Greek music of all kinds.  I love the old sounds of the wooden strings and pipes.  New Greek tunes are dear to my heart because the Greek pop singer, Despina Vandi, is my favorite vocalist ever.

There’s something about ancient Greek music that is so real, it’s almost eerie to me.  It’s kind of like I was there in Greece long ago, in another life time.  There really aren’t that many pieces that are available in written form on record which is such a loss for mankind.

The ancient music was mostly done as an accompaniment to poetry which was huge in those days.  The lyre, a harp-like instrument, was often used.  While there is nothing fancy at all about ancient Greek music, it just takes me to a place I really like.  I picture myself there in the days of old with the legends of the Greek Gods.

Then there’s the Greek music that’s just old but not ancient, like the opera music. I’m not a huge fan of opera but I do like Nikolaos Mantzaros’ opera pieces and Mikis Theodorakis who is my favorite because of the behind the scene story.  Mikis music was popular in the 60’s and 70’s but was actually banned because of his rebellion and opposition to military rule.  1967-1974 was when the Juanta ruled so you can just imagine the emotions behind his music.

Greek music today cannot be beat.  It’s so lively and heartfelt, it makes me want to dance the minute I tune in…and I am not a dancer.  But then again, neither am I Greek.  “Zorba the Greek” is a classic that even those who could care less about Greek music generally know and like.  The song is in the movie of the same name which is a wonderful film.  If you haven’t seen it…you should!  Although the song has no words, you cannot help but get carried away with the instrumentals.

As I mentioned before, Despina Vandi is at the top of my list.  Her voice is angelic to me and has such a presence about it that just captivates me.

I also like Helena Paparizou who won Eurovision a few years back. She sang “My Number One” which is a great song but personally, I like “Survivor” better which is a more current hit.

Laïkó music is intriguing to me.  It’s what is played in many of the Greek night clubs.  The Laïkó sounds of today are a bit like the folksongs of the 30’s but much more developed.  If I know anything about Greek musicians it’s that they are hell-bent on improving and perfecting at all times.

If you go to a nightclub in Greece, you will surely hear Laïkó music.  It gravitates even those of us who don’t usually dance to the dance floor.  It just makes you want to move.

It was Despina Vandi who attracted me to Greek music initially.  I began to take an interest in hopes of finding more singers who sounded similar to her.  What I found, however, was that there are many great Greek musicians but they all have their unique sounds.  No two sound the same to me.  The more I listened, the more I liked it and have found a place in my heart for all Greek music, old and new.

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The Super Bowl Isn’t My TV Event of the Year – It’s Eurovision!

A lot of people look forward to the Super Bowl every years.  And there are those who live to watch the Olympics when they roll around.  For me, my TV event of the year is Eurovision.  I can’t get enough of it and obviously, I’m in good company.  Eurovision has been broadcasting since 1956.

What is Eurovision?  Eurovision, also known as Eurosong, is a song competition that is held between countries around the world.  One singer represent their country by performing a song which not only determines if their country will win the event but also has been known to launch great careers.  Céline Dion was one such case.  She competed and won for Switzerland in 1988 and a star was born.

The way the competition works is that every country gets to vote but, of course, for a county other than itself.  Tons of people attend the event numbering anywhere from 100 million to 600 million and those are “in person” viewers.  It is also broadcast on television in most major countries and on the internet too.

I think the Super Bowl attendance has rounded out at a tops of about 103,219.  It may be the most watched televised annual event in America, but certainly not worldwide.  The Olympics are hugely popular too with somewhere around 7.5 million actually watching in person.  Imagine the magnitude of Eurovision with 100-600 million.  That put things in perspective, for sure.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not against the Super Bowl, the Olympics or any other major event that people flock to see or religiously tune in to watch.  I just happen to prefer Eurovision and wish everyone who has never experienced it would do so at least once, just to see what it’s all about.

Every year I am blown away with the talent that is unveiled at Eurovision.  It’s amazing to watch.  Even though many songs are in foreign languages that I don’t understand, there’s a common bond to music that connects us.

Being an avid Despina Vandi fan, I have always hoped that she would represent Greece In the competition.  She has been made the offer, repetitively but has never accepted and most likely never will.  She did, however, host in the final choosing of who would in 2013.  Then, in 2014, she and the famous actor, Giorgos Kapoutzidis, emceed Eurosong 2014.  Looks like that’s as close as I will get to my ideal Eurovision but I’ll take what I can get.

My all-time favorite was Eurovision 2014 partly because of Despina Vandi but also because I loved Conchita West’s unabated performance and what he says about it,  “Be the best version of yourself rather than a bad copy of someone else!”  He sang “Rise Like a Phoenix” like a true drag queen.

I’m really looking forward to Eurovision 2015.  The finale is set to be on May 23.  It will mark the 60th anniversary of the contest and is sure to be a spectacular event.  What’s best is that it will be held in the romantic, historical setting of Vienna, Austria.  It just doesn’t get any better…that is unless Despina decides to compete.

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Moments in Time: My Life According to Despina Vandi

So I recently put together the story of my life in a slide show.  When it came time to add the music, it was a no-brainer.  Despina Vandi was the perfect pick.

“Gia” was the first song I ever heard by Despina.  I was just a teen.  My sister and I were joy-riding in her convertible.  We had the top down and jammed to the song, the words ringing in our heads as we sang along at the top of our lungs.

I was so impressed with her music, I looked up songs and found “Ipofero” which became another favorite.  It holds the record of the most CDs ever sold in Greece.  The song is about suffering and it describes a certain part of my life quite well.

It seems that Despina’s music IS the story of my life.  There is happy, sad, melancholy and edgy too.  I have always felt a connection with her but when I actually put the photos of my life to her music, it became crystal clear why I felt that way.  If you have ever related to a singer the way that I relate to Despina, they you know what I am talking about.

Despina may be half a world away from where I live and from another generation entirely, but there is something that touches my soul in her songs.  I feel like we have gone through very similar times in our lives.  Maybe those things were experienced at different times, but they we still share the feelings through her songs.  We don’t have to even speak the same language to speak the same language if you know what I mean.

“Opa Opa” and “Come Along Now” were songs I enjoyed early on in my Despina fan days.  I remember what I was doing when I heard both of the tunes.  When I listen to them now, I flashback to those days and it’s a nice feeling to remember days gone by so vividly.

I remember looking up the Greek word, “opa” and finding the meaning fascinating, mostly because it is actually very hard to describe.  It’s a Greek slang, of sorts, an expression.  One might say, “Opa” when they bump into someone or visa versa.  Another might say, “Opa”, in an awkward moment.  The meanings are many and I found my own meaning through the song.

“Come Along Now” was, in my personal opinion, written to Despina’s fans.  It seems that it was actually written and sung for me when I listen to it.  “Listen to me, become a devotee,   And let the music come through you, like electricity,” the words go.  I mean, how could that not be to her fans…to me?

I have often wondered what I would say to Despina Vandi if I met her face to face.  I think of how she might react if she saw the slide show of my life put to the music of her heart.  Would it mean anything to her like it does to me?  I sometimes think I might tell her of how I relate to her music and the events in her real life too or, maybe I would just tell her how wonderful I think she is.  Then I realize that if I met her, I would probably say nothing at all…I don’t think I would even need to say a word.  Sometimes, with some special people, it just works that way.

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My Favorite Piece of Despina Vandi Merchandise

Despina Vandi has lovely black hair and beautiful large dark eyes. She is a gorgeous Greek poop songstress of world renown. Now you too, know her enviable name. She looks like a femme fatale. Despina hit the music world by storm in the mid-1990s and has developed legions of followers ever since, including me. I certainly would want to own any of her merchandise. I don’t compare her with US celebrities as she is in a class of her own. She has been at the top of the charts in her home country and abroad. You will come to like her as much as I do given the opportunity to listen to her work. Her voice is to die for, her style is a delight, and her appearance magnificent. Join me in singing her praises!

Despina has had great commercial success with singles and albums alike—like Ipofero in 2000 and Allaxa many years later. She doesn’t need to produce collectibles with her image and name, but she does. If you are a fellow fan, you can find photographs and assorted items online that will help you enjoy her fame. Also check with her fan club. I don’t know which products she personally sanctions, but I do covet a backpack I saw on the Internet that celebrates her glory wonderfully well. I do have her collection of hits and most of the award-winning CDs (and there are many), so why not something I can tote around every day that reminds me of her. She is a top favorite and I don’t need an excuse to revel in her success.

The backpack is a good ladies’ choice, simple and easy, with the requisite adjustable strap and lots of pockets and compartments. The size and roominess are fine. But it’s not about that, or even what it is made out of or what shape it has. It’s about her image and what she represents. Carrying her cool backpack is a sign of respect and admiration. Those who already know Despina probably have one or two logo items, and I am introducing her to you others to do my part in expanding her international presence. Americans are just so provincial and know little about music abroad. They don’t learn foreign languages or follow the international press. There is a lack of sophistication in US taste. You are all missing a wonderful experience of the best Greece has to offer. I encourage you to take the time to download some of her most popular items and enjoy them as much as I do. Better yet, attend a live concert for a once-in-a-lifetime experience you will never forget. It will be a lesson in charisma and charm. If you are of a different vibe, the lady is just a totally sexy babe!

As a side comment, there are sites that reprint her lyrics and this is also a good way to begin your appreciation of her songs. Not all are translated, so if you have a friend or acquaintance who speaks Greek, do ask for help.

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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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