Mar 29, 2015

106/917 Nana Mouskouri: A force de prier (Luxembourg 1963)

Quite a few artists have managed to make a succesful international career after their participation in the Eurovision song contest. But still I can come up with only three Eurovision singers that have earned a international superstar status by selling hundreds of millions of records. They are Céline Dion, of course, and Julio Iglesias. The third one is Nana Mouskouri.

I have a more personal relationship with Nana Mouskouri than any other Eurovision artist. When I was only three years old, my father brought an album (called Une voix qui vient du coeur) by Mouskouri from Paris and I fell in love with the album and the singer immediately. Night after night I fell to sleep listening to that album clutching the album cover (with the picture of the dark sweet lady with distinguishable glasses) in my hands. The cover of course fell into pieces, but the album itself remained and I still find it an exquisite piece music combining tastefully French and Greek popular cultures.

I wasn't particularly surprised when about 20 later I found out that this Greek lady had also taken part in the Eurovision Song Contest. When I saw a bad quality VHS copy of the 1963 contest it was not difficult to recognize the singer with trembling voice and dark framed specs representing Luxembourg. Just couple of years previously a talent scout for a French record company had brought this promising singer to Paris to start an international career. Before the Luxembourg TV asked Mouskouri to sing for them in London, she had scored a big hit in Germany with Weiße Rosen aus Athen and recorded an album in New York under the direction of Quincy Jones

The 1963 Eurovision Song Contest was staged in a tv studio which made the visuals of that contest unique. For the Luxembourg entry the director Yvonne Littlewood decided to concentrate on the face of the singer and make no camera changes (and only minimal camera moves) during her performance. Mouskouri herself has pronounced dissatisfaction with her own performance stating, that she didn't sing that well and could not convey the meaning of the lyrics on a language that was still quite new to her.

I must disagree, her performance is top class and the minimalist approach by the director only enhances her stage presence. In the end she ended in the middle of the scoreboard (eighth among 16 participants), which was probably due more to the somber arrangement of the song than the melody or the performance itself. The song was recorded with two different arrangements, maybe this lighter version (recorded at the same time with the original version but released five years later) could have pleased the juries more? I love both.

Her participation in the Eurovision Song Contest opened even more international doors. She made friends with Littlewood which resulted her own tv series Presenting Nana Mouskouri in the BBC from 1968-1976.  During her career she recorded regularly in Greek, French, English and German and occasionally in other languages as well. Long career and success in different language regions made her one of the best selling artists of all time, at least according to her record company, which awarded her a plaque representing 350 million records sold in 2009. Nana Mouskouri continued to record and perform regularly until her retirement in 2008.

My points 5/5.


  1. Nice blog and thanks for share your good piece of content with us.

  2. Thank you for your comment. Is there any Eurovision entry (between 1956-2003) that you would like me to review?