She was born in Smyrna (now Izmir), in the Aidin Vilayet of the Ottoman Empire. Some sources have given her year of birth as 1903. A versatile singer of rebetiko, Smyrneika and other music, she was a popular performer on gramophone records in the 1930s. During that decade, the only female singer of rebetiko who rivalled her in popularity, and in the number of her recordings, was Roza Eskenazi.
Abatzi performed with many of the most famous musicians including Panayiotis Toundas, Vangelis Papazoglou, Kostas Skarvelis, Iakovos Montanaris, Spyros Peristeris, Dimitrios Semsis, I. Ogdontaki up to Markos Vamvakaris and Vassilis Tsitsanis. Her career ended after World War II. She died in Egaleo (Athens), Greece.
Two collections dedicated to Rita Abatzi's recordings have been issued:
- Rita Abatzi 1933–1938, Heritage
- Rita Abatzi, Minos-Arkheio
Her recordings also appear on these anthologies:
Women of Rembetika, JSP/Amazon
Women of Rembetika 1908-1947, 4-CD collection, JSP/Amazon
- Broughton, Simon; Mark Ellingham; Richard Trillo [editors] (1999) World music: the rough guide. Africa, Europe and the Middle East, Volume 1. Rough Guides. p. 138. ISBN 1-85828-635-2
- National Geographic World Music: Rita Abatzi
- Greek-Oriental Rebetica: Songs and Dances in the Asia Minor Style, 1911–1937. CD booklet. Arhoolie/Folklyric 7005
- Petropoulos, Elias, Ed Emery, and A. Kanavakis. (2000). Songs of the Greek underworld: the Rebetika tradition. London: Saqi Books. p. 34. ISBN 0-86356-398-8
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