Avra

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For the village in Iran, see Avra, Iran. For the song by Ivi Adamou, see Avra (song).
Avra
AvraDSC09200.jpg
Background information
Birth name Avra Velis
Also known as Avra
Origin Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Genres Pop
Dance-pop
Club
Electronica Pop rock Synthpop Disco Greek Alternative rock
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter, writer, musician, record producer, fashion , author, actress
Instruments Vocals, piano, guitar
Years active 1982–present
Website www.avra.co

Avra Velis is a Greek-Australian singer-songwriter, actress, record producer and fashion stylist. She is known (citation pending) for her ambitious music videos and stage performances as well as her poetic, thought provoking lyrics[1].

Since her debut in 1982, Avra has released numerous singles[2], [3] and albums[1]. She has also written and appeared in several theatre productions and stage performances, including the Melbourne Fringe Festival[4]

Life and career[edit]

Early life[edit]

Avra was born in Brisbane, Queensland, an only child to Greek parents who immigrated from Kythera and Ithaca.

Raised in a Greek environment, Avra's mother quickly identified her daughter’s passion for the arts and her songwriting abilities from an early age. She was enrolled in after school piano lessons, speech and drama classes, whilst also studying Greek language and culture. Avra’s musical and creative horizons were expanded by attending weekly theatrical productions covering a diversity of genres, as well as a myriad of internationally acclaimed artisits including larger than life performers such as Maria Callas, Liberace, Dame Joan Sutherland, Barbara Streisand, Billy Joel, Kate Bush, Marcel Marceau, Mikis Theodorakis, and Lindsay Kemp.

She attended Ascot State Primary School and continued on to Brisbane State High School where she excelled in drama, debating and English.

Formal Education and Professional career[edit]

Having completed High School, Avra moved to Adelaide to pursue a Bachelor of Education. Writing and creating music remained an important aspect of her life however. After earning her degree, she taught secondary English and drama at several South Australian schools, writing numerous school productions.

Avra left the school system after four years to pursue interests in the commerical music industry

Starting Out in the Music Industry[edit]

In the late `80s, Avra formed her first band Virginia Wolf with her partner Steve Sutton, a well known guitarist, songwriter and author[1].

The collaboration produced work which led them to win the West End Battle of the Bands, a notable contest held in South Australia.

Solo career[edit]

In late 2002 "INNATE" was released, the first of two new albums. "INNATE" was dedicated to building awareness about chiropractic work and focussed on the subject of innate healing [1]. It was distributed throughout Australia, New Zealand and the United States. After “INNATE” a return to her Hellenic roots followed, and over the next three years, Avra collaborated with various Adelaide based Greek artists and organisations, including a spectacular series of concerts sponsored by the Greeks of Egypt and Middle East Society.

She performed at such notable venues as the Adelaide Festival Centre, the Royalty Theatre and the Adelaide Convention Centre. One of the shows, GREEKS OF THE SEA, was invited to be part of the Sydney Greek Festival (Paniyiri) Program.

Avra performed regularly on a local level at the Cypriot Club and other various other Adelaide Greek music venues, as well as some guest appearances at several Greek clubs in Melbourne.

Other projects included the formation of the "Avralicious Show", a parody of the rock diva persona, under the musical direction of Corey Stewart.

This inspired her to create a six track E.P. entitled Super-Alterego"[1] and work with musician and producer Damien Steel Scott[5],. A national tour followed which included a same titled show[6] at the Melbourne Fringe Festival. (2003).

The EP shifted over 5000 units (pending verification).

Continuing Work[edit]

In 2004, Avra co-produced the "Avra – The Musical" which opened at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts] in July.

The script, along with the lyrics for all 16 of the songs, were entirely composed by Avra, whilst the musical composition and production marked her first collaboration with dance music veteran Kevin Freeman.

Set to video screen backdrops created by Tim Rith and extravagant lighting designed by Hamish Cliff, the production was a combination of dance and theatre. (citation pending)

A 20 track CD was produced and sold at the show, simply titled "Avra – The musical – Songs from the musical".

Avra continued her work with Kevin Freeman under his project "Thousand Ears" in 2006, recording several songs together including a dance track titled "Fashion Police". The song, written by Avra and produced by Kevin, is a tongue in cheek commentary on the nature of fashion and the Fashion industry (citation pending).

In December 2006, Director Steve Malone from Brisbane's Water Street Productions directed the music video.(citation pending)

The video was shot entirely against a green screen and a A$250,000 GT Pantera sports car was one of the props. Extensive motion tracked 3D animation was used in combination with 3D titles and effects, marking a dramatic departure from the very basic and strictly utilitarian style music videos that made up the bulk of Brisbane produced music clips in recent times.

The song was featured in the 2008 Australian Big Brother series

In 2011 the album Avra and Yiorgo was released[7]. This was a joint venture between the Australian bouzouki player George Bousias and was conceived and produced again by Kevin Freeman. The album is a collection of Greek and English songs predominantly written by Avra, and featuring a track ‘ELEVTHERIA’ jointly written by Velis, Bousias & Freeman, as well as a ballad entitled “Sam’s song’ written by George about his daughter.

The album was released at the Paniyiri Greek Festival in Brisbane.

Current Activity[edit]

Avra and two cast members take a moment out from filming the "Fashion Police" video. (December 2006)

In 2014, Avra returned to her original singer-songwriter roots and released a live acoustic EP entitled “Tricky little life songs” [8], a collection of songs on the Tall Poppy Productions label that were written during the final months of her Father’s life. The song Days will be released as a single in 2015 along with her current project “BIG LITTLE WORD.“

Avra created AVRA Co and is continuing with her work as a freelance fashion stylist.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e "Entertainment News and Reviews - Avra Velis Artist and Album review". Girl.Com.Au. 
  2. ^ "SCALA - Steps". Songwriters, Composers and Lyricists Association. 
  3. ^ "SCALA - Living in the Mainsteam". Songwriters, Composers and Lyricists Association. 
  4. ^ Davis keeps to high style; Velis, take note – www.theage.com.au
  5. ^ Scott, Damien Steel. "Producer - Damien Steel Scott". Goose. 
  6. ^ Crofty, Joel. "Avra - A SuperAlterEgo - the show". Austage. 
  7. ^ Stilianos, Alex. "Avra and Yiorgo - the album released". Avra’s latest stand with Yiorgo. 
  8. ^ "Tricky Little Life Songs Album Launch on Facebook". 

Discography[edit]

A list of albums spanning Avra's musical career will be produced shortly.

External links[edit]