Alexia Vassiliou

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Alexia Vassiliou
Born Alexia Vassiliou
(1964-02-05) February 5, 1964 (age 50)
Famagusta, Cyprus
Nationality Cypriot
Other names Alexia, Αλέξια
Occupation Singer, Lyricist, Composer
Years active 1981–present
Style Jazz, pop, classical, improvisational, spoken word
Website
www.alexiamusic.com

Alexia Vassiliou (born February 5, 1964), better known as Alexia, is a Cypriot singer, vocalist, musician, performer, composer, lyricist, and activist, associated with Voice Improvisation.[1] She as done a series of Gold and Platinum records, including one in Scandinavia, and a Top-100 hit in the U.S.A., while she was still a student at the Berklee College of Music, in Boston. Her first album Alexia started a new wave of Pop music in Greece and Cyprus, and selling over 500,000 copies, making Alexia the most successful debut album by a Greek artists ever. Throughout her career, Alexia has collaborated with a number of distinguished artists, including Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan, Olympia Dukakis, Andreas Vollenweider, and Milva. For a period of 10 years, she teamed up with the legendary Mikis Theodorakis, composer of Zorba the Greek. Alexia recorded a double album showcasing some of the composer’s most consummate musical creations. In her jazz album, In a Jazz Mood, Alexia collaborated with Chick Corea, and with the great bassist, John Patitucci. Alexia has also performed songs for the soundtracks of three films, Sacred Whispers, The Road to Ithaca and Safe Sex.

Alexia represented Cyprus twice in the Eurovision Song Contest, first with the song "Monika" with the musical band Island in 1981,[2] and then as a solo artist in 1987 with the song "Aspro Mavro".[3]

In 2012, Alexia was awarded with "Performer of the Year" at the Madame Figaro - Women of the Year Awards in Cyprus.

Early life[edit]

Vassiliou was born on February 5, 1964, in Famagusta, Cyprus. The Greek military junta that aimed to overthrow the established government, followed by the Turkish invasion of Cyprus and occupation of the island's north region, forced many people including Vassiliou to be displaced from their homes. From that moment on they were refugees in their own country.

Education[edit]

Vassiliou studied at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, from where she graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Performance. During her studies, she was a member of the Berklee Gospel Choir for 4 years, initially directed by Lisa Harrigan and later on by Orville Wright.

During her sophomore year, she was chosen by CBS New York to record the theme song for the album I Am Siam. The soundtrack was composed and arranged by Brian Rothschild and the lyrics were written by Stefan Vienna (Steve Wiener). Another great musician, Larry Fast (Synergy, Peter Gabriel), was the co-producer and co-responsible for the innovative synthesizer sound. I Am Siam was produced by David Sonenberg.

Career[edit]

Alexia began her career in 1981 as part of the Cypriot group, Island. They represented Cyprus in the Eurovision song contest.[2] The song, "Monika", placed 6th in the competition.

After her graduation from Berklee College of Music in 1985, she moved to New York where she performed for several years and gradually became the lead singer of four different Jazz and Fusion bands. Axiom was one of them. Alexia and her bands used to play gigs around Manhattan as New York was at that time one of the most promising places for new artists. The City was booming with creativity and talent…many remarkable musicians, each one with his/her own legacy in music history, were living and creating music in the heart of New York.

In 1987, Alexia represented Cyprus in the Eurovision song contest for the second time with the song "Aspro-Mavro",[3] thus triggering the beginning of her music career in Greece and Europe. Aspro-Mavro was composed by Antros and Maria Papapavlou and under the label of Air Music it became platinum in the Scandinavian countries.

From the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s, Alexia recorded over 20 albums, most of which became Gold and Platinum. Her debut solo album "Alexia" (released by Polygram) has sold over 300,000 copies since its first release, thus becoming three times platinum.

During this period, she collaborated with great composers, lyricists, artists and musicians from all over the world, including: Mikis Theodorakis, Kostas Kapnisis, Chick Corea, John Patitucci, Gary Novak, Gayle Moran, Costas Cacoyannis, Linda Bourbon, Antoni Donchev, Andreas Vollenweider, Milva, Peter Massink, Fergus Currie, Christos Christofis, Aristides Mytaras, Marios Meletiou, Claire Angelidou (former minister of Culture and Education of Cyprus), Takis Binis (one of the most well known names of Rembetiko), Christos Filippou, Makis Delaportas (producer and collector-archivist of most old Greek films' soundtrack music), Stamatis Kraounakis, George Hadjinassios, Kostas Tournas, Mimis Plessas, Christian Leibl, Costas Charitodiplomenos, George Mitsiggas, Antros and Maria Papapavlou, Brian Rothschild, Stefan Vienna (Steve Weiner), Larry Fast.

In 1991 Alexia took part in the Eurosong contest, held on the island of Corfu, Greece and she won the first place with the song “Ela”, composed and orchestrated by one of the most distinguished and prolific Greek composers and pianists Mimis Plessas and lyrics by Loukila Karer.

The Greek TV-Variety show Proinos Kafes (1991–2009), with its whirling cup of coffee open, was one of the most recognized opens, accompanied by the song, "Kalimera" - the music of Costas Charitodiplomenos, and originally sung and made famous by Alexia in her 1990 album Ela Mia Nyxta.

After her collaboration with producer Makis Delaportas and orchestrator late Kostas Kapnisis, she performed "Ta Klassika" (the Classics) (1993), another big production with Greek big band and jazz songs from the 1920s to 1960s. The album became three times platinum in Greece and Cyprus. "Ta Klassika" was recorded with the Bulgarian Symphony Orchestra and the album includes three duets with Vlassis Bonatsos, Zoi Kouroukli and Rena Vlachopoulou, one of Greece's old film icons.

Alexia performed the lead role in the production Frank 'n Stein (1994), written and directed by Stavros Sideras. The soundtrack composed by George Hadjinassios, one of Greece’s most prominent composers, became Alexia’s seventh album "Behind Closed Doors".

In 1995, a concert was held at “Panathinaikon” Stadium (the Kallimarmaron), the site of the first modern Olympic Games, in honor of the world renowned composer Mikis Theodorakis for his 70th birthday. Over 70 of the most notable singers and musicians, including the late Grigoris Bithikotsis and Vicky Mosholiou, performed on the same stage. Alexia had the honor to open the concert with the theme song from the awarded film Phaedra directed by Jules Dassin.

Achaeon Akti, an ode to Cyprus, was released in 1996, featuring Takis Binis, one of the most authentic representatives of "Rebetiko" (the Greek equivalent to blues). The composer of this album was Christos Filippou and the lyricists were Andreas Paraschos and Kostas Fasoulas. During the same year the album In a Jazz Mood was out as well. This acclaimed album was the outcome of Alexia’s collaboration with Chick Corea, John Patitucci, Gary Novak, Gayle Moran, horn-player/orchestrator/composer Peter Massink and Bulgarian pianist/composer/orchestrator Antoni Donchev (Acoustic Version). Part of “In a Jazz Mood” was recorded at "The Mad Hatter", Chick Corea’s old studio in Los Angeles. The rest was completed in Bulgaria and Athens.

Famagusta was released in 1997, an album consisting of narrated poetry and songs, written by the former Minister of Education and Culture of Cyprus Mrs. Claire Angelides and composed by Cypriot composer Marios Meletiou. This work was an ode to the town of Famagusta, Cyprus, which has been under the Turkish occupation since 1974. The ancient Greek theatre of Herodus Atticus (the "Herodion") was the site of a benefit concert where the album was presented. Greek actors, late Eleni Hadjiargyri, Themis Bazaka, Kostas Kazakos, and Dimitris Potamitis himself, recited excerpts from the album. The Choir and the Orchestra of the Greek National Broadcasting Station (ΕRΤ) were conducted by Antonis Kontogeorgiou and Rafael Pilarinos respectively.

In July 1997, Alexia performed at the first ‘Nicolas Economou Memorial Concert’, an International Jazz and Classical Music festival that continues to be held in Cyprus annually as a tribute to the late pianist. The concert took place at the ancient Curium Amphitheatre (Kourion). The festival lasted three days and presented for the first time in Cyprus Chick Corea, Gary Burton, The Danilo Perez Trio, Kevin Mahogany and Antoni Donchev’s Acoustic Trio featuring Peter Massink.

In 1998, Alexia - Mikis Theodorakis was released by Sony-BMG, a double album with new approaches to twenty six of Mikis Theodorakis' compositions (settings of poems by Greek poets including Nobel Peace Prize Laureates Odysseas Elytis and George Seferis). The album includes a duet with Italian singer Milva for the song, "Denial (At The Sea Shore)" and a live impromptu improvisation duet of the song "Mesa stis Thalassines Spilies" with Mikis Theodorakis. Theodorakis also performed a version of "To Treno Feugei stis Okto". Vassiliou also collaborated with Swiss harpist Andreas Vollenweider on two music tracks, "Marina" - poetry by nobel peace laureate Odysseus Elytis and "Koimisou Aggeloudi Mou" - poetry by nobel peace laureate George Seferis.

In May 2000, she performed for a benefit concert at the Piccadilly Theatre in London, organized by the Lobby for Cyprus, a non-party political, non-sectarian voluntary organization based in the UK with the aim of reuniting Cyprus.

Contributions to theatre and dance[edit]

In 1999 Alexia collaborated with composer and musician Aristides Mytaras who composed the original music for the contemporary dance performance, The Lady of the Camellias. The adaptation was choreographed and directed by Constantinos Rigos, with lyrics by Marilena Panayiotopoulou, and visual production by Filippos Koutsaftis, and performed at the Amore Theatre in Athens.

Between 2010 and 2011 in Los Angeles, Alexia composed the music and voice improvisations for Marios Stilianakis’s play Water — which had a thriving six-week, Hollywood run in fall 2010—with the efforts of Alexia’s longtime collaborator, Bill Stergiou, guitarist/orchestrator/engineer from Thessaloniki, Greece.

Art[edit]

In 2007, Track7inc and Track7music produced and presented the artistic exhibition of Anisa Ashkar (1979, Palestine) and Joseph Dadoune (1975, Israel) with the general title “Purifying Love” at Track7 art space in Athens, Greece.The exhibition included two autonomous original projects that were presented for the first time in Athens, in which Alexia participated through improvised composition, singing and acting. The exhibition was curated by the art theorist Dr. Sania Papa. The first project, a performance by Anisa Ashkar (as Medusa) and Alexia (as Goddess Athina), reinterprets and inverts the myth of Perseus and Medusa, placing it in a contemporary context of conflict and contradictions. The dancer and somatic release instructor Michalis Elpidoforou, also took part as Perseus.

The second project was Joseph Dadoune’s film Bunker Buster, which was filmed in the Athens War Museum. All voice improvisations in the film were documented in a limited vinyl edition with the title: Score No1 in Three Moments of Origin.[4]

Contributions to film[edit]

Alexia performed songs for three film soundtracks, The Road to Ithaca and Safe Sex, both of which went Platinum, and Sacred Whispers.

In The Road to Ithaca, (1999 film directed by Costas Dimitriou), Alexia sang two songs composed by Costas Cacoyannis, "The Road to Ithaca," (lyrics by Linda Bourbon Povall) and "Never-Never Land" by Zinon Zindilis.

For Safe Sex (1999 Greek blockbuster comedy directed and written by Michael Reppas and Thanassis Papathanasiou), Alexia sang Put the Blame on Mame orchestrated by Fergus Currie.

Alexia acted in two short Films Noir, As a Last Resort and Sacred Whispers, written, produced and directed by Los Angeles-based Constantinos Isaias, with Alexandros Isaias, director of photography. Alexia composed the score for both films, with excerpts from her 2010 triple album, Re-bE, "Birds Have to Fly," and the forthcoming improvisational project, Backyards (co-created with Bill Stergiou).

New music[edit]

In an effort to explore new ways of thinking and expression, Alexia devoted part of her time on the study of creative writing with feminist activist Christiana Lambrinides. Through a series of workshops over a period of five years, Alexia was able to obtain valuable knowledge on such diverse, yet interrelated concepts, that are directly related to creative expression and writing such as performativity, gender studies, feminist studies and art. During this time she had the opportunity to come across and study thoroughly the work of many classic authors, theorists and activists like Nobel Prize winner in Literature Toni Morrison, Djuna Barnes, Helene Cixous, Jacques Derrida, Georges Bataille, Louise Bourgeois, Gertrude Stein, Michel Foucault, Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton.

On December 1, 2010, Alexia released Re-bE - a triple album, which encompasses for the first time, Alexia's own music compositions, lyrics, narratives and improvisations. Re-bE recorded and mixed in studios around the world, such as, Air Studios, Sphere Studios and worked with the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra. Mastering was completed in London at the Exchange, with Mike Marsh at the helm. All songs written and produced by Alexia Vassiliou.

In 2011, Alexia released the single "Cypriot - The Re-miXes" with remixes of the song "Cyprus" from the album Re-bE. The remixes were mixed by Matheos.


In 2012, Alexia, under the musical direction of Constantinos Isiaias, and in collaboration with DJ Robin Skouteris, created a re-mix of the song, "Must Save the Day". The original recording comes from Alexia's triple album, Re-bE. "Must Save the Day" was also used in the short film noir, Sacred Whispers The release of, "Must Save the Day - The Re-Mix" became Number 1 on iTunes Greece, overnight.

Currently, Alexia is working on the release of her next Jazz album Birds Have to Fly, for which Alexia wrote all the lyrics, was composed, orchestrated and performed by horn player Peter Massink.

Along with the recordings of her new albums, Alexia continued to work on a series of voice improvisations, called "Voice Alone", by just using her digital recording device and a simple microphone. The "Voice Alone" series will form part of a broader upcoming project called “The Improvisation Series”. The concept of this new project is based on experimental music work, for which Alexia has been working on for many years now.

Discography[edit]

  • 1981: "Monika" (Maxi-Single)
  • 1984: I Am Siam"
  • 1987: "Aspro mavro" (Maxi-Single)
  • 1987: ALEXIA / "ΑΛΕΞΙΑ"
  • 1988: Party On the Rocks
  • 1989: Ena Dyo Tria
  • 1989: "Lefka Christougenna" (Maxi-Single)
  • 1990: Ela Mia Nychta
  • 1991: "Ela - Love me" (Maxi-Single)
  • 1992: Nerompogies
  • 1993: I Alexia Erminevi Ta Klasika
  • 1994: Keklismenon ton Thiron
  • 1996: "Acheon Akti"
  • 1996: In a Jazz Mood
  • 1997: Famagusta / "Ammoxostos"
  • 1998: Alexia - Mikis Theodorakis
  • 1999: Safe Sex (O.S.T.)
  • 1999: I Kyria Me Tis Kamelies / The Lady of the Camellias
  • 2000: The Road to Ithaca (O.S.T.)
  • 2007: Score No1 in three moments of origin-First Cycle (O.S.T.)
  • 2010: Water" (O.S.T) (Los Angeles)
  • 2010: Re-bE (Triple Album)
  • 2011: Sacred Whispers (O.S.T) (Digital Album)
  • 2011: "Cypriot - The RemiXes" (Digital Album)
  • 2011: The Voice Improvisation Series: Backyards (Digital Album)
  • 2012: "Must Save The Day - The Re-MiX" (Digital Album)
  • 2012: "The Voice Improvisation Series: Voice and Guitar" (Digital Album)
  • 2012: "The Voice Improvisation Series: Heartbeat" (Digital Album)
  • 2012: "The Voice Improvisation Series: Two Voices" (Digital Album)
  • 2012: "The Voice Improvisation Series: Voice in Wind" (Digital Album)
  • 2012: "The Voice Improvisation Series: Mosaic Phrases" (Digital Album)
  • 2012: "The Voice Improvisation Series: Jerusalem" (Digital Album)
  • 2012: "The Voice Improvisation Series: Venetian Road" (Digital Album)
  • 2012: "The Voice Improvisation Series: Lullaby" (Digital Album)
  • 2013: "Birds Have to Fly" (Digital Album)

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Elpida
with Tora Zo
Cyprus in the Eurovision Song Contest
1987
Succeeded by
Giannis Savvidakis & Phani Polymeri
with

Apopse As Vrethume