Eleonora Zouganeli: The bold & the talented

She’s 29 years old, the daughter of two famous Greek performers – the multitalented Yiannis Zouganelis and singer Isidora Sideri – and she has a thing for different hairstyles. It’s taken her less than a decade to build a huge following thanks to hard work, determination, talent and a knack for transformation.

Eleonora Zouganeli is not just a promising singer. She’s an audacious performer who’s managed to craft a stage persona that can grow to become larger than life. Why? Well, she’s definitely got the vocal talent – a deep gruff voice with an impressively vast range fit to interpret almost anything and everything.

Here with Brainwash Squad in the “Tainted Love-Ela” mix at the Mad Music Awards in 2009. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KXC9CINeQBo

But what sets Zouganeli apart is her vibrant stage presence, which seems to come from years of soul searching despite her young age. She’s seems to be as comfortable on stage as she is off, if not more. She moves with grace when she wants to lure the audience or with vigor when she wants to compel. And she exudes a magnetism that once every so often goes hand in hand with vocal talent.

Zouganeli has thus far released three albums – Ela (Come to me) in 2008, Exodos 2 (Exit 2) in 2010 and Eipa Stous Filous Mou (I Told My Friends) in 2011. At the same time, she’s sung beside many popular Greek performers from all genres including rock, pop, laiko and entechno. She’s worked (or rather sung) her way to the top managing in this time to learn, listen and borrow… integrating the skills and secrets she’s picked up along the way into an innovative performing style that’s all her own.

Here in a mesmerizing rendering of Rick Allison and Lara Fabian’s “Je t’aime” – “Pes Mou” (Tell Me) in Greek, lyrics by Nikos Moraitis. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=19KaU_K2Jv8

It is very difficult for a singer as young as Zouganeli to avoid comparison with the greatness of artists such as Eleni Vitali, who was among the first to interpret this song by Kostas Virvos and music by Panos Gavalas, Pitouras and Argyris Koulouris. And yet, Zouganeli makes “Makria Mou Na Fygeis” (Go Away from Me) her own, conveying eloquently the pain and suffering of a song penned some 37 years ago. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50U4Pr2x8vIhas

Here in an intoxicating interpretation of “Mikra Veggalika” (Small Fireworks) off Ela. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OUHdQ8JxhcI&feature=fvst

Here, during the Closing Ceremony of the Athens Special Olympics in July 2011. Zouganeli was not allowed to bring her own band and had to walk a massive distance to reach the main stage. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T2XxlUqZ6F8

In today’s music business, it’s not so much about the recording talent one has but rather the ability (flair) to stand out, to be different, to offer something fresh, to make audiences feel… and above all to avoid comparisons. Zouganeli manages to do all of the above. Let’s hope she can make the choices that will keep her at the top for years to come.

It’s always a blessing when young artists are able in this era of abundance to stand out, do their thing and make you want to be part of it….

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Zouganeli will be performing “revamped works” by Stavros Xarhakos on September 21 at the Megaron Mousikis Gardens in a tribute concert to the composer.

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