George Dalaras: Greek Singer Extraordinaire

I first wrote this post way back in 2012 when The Greek Vibe was a Greek music blog. Today, I feel I have to update this post after George Dalaras, one of the Greece’s most famous singers globally came out of silence and uncovered with his comment the ugliness of Greek art and journalism and of the terrible working conditions that remain despite the handful of upgrades by credit agencies and the so-called “growing economy”.

Back in 2012, Dalaras, who is one of the few Greek performers to have filled the Athens Olympic Stadium twice (150,000 fans) back in the ’80s and have fans hanging from his vocal acrobatics, spoke up when a handful of dimwitted troublemakers ruined a free concert. This very same crowd, some younger-generation singers and a a dozen of low-paid reporters demonstrate yet again that democracy and anarchy go hand-in-hand and that Greece and SOME Greeks have a long way to go before they fully understand that respect is the what gives meaning to both.

‘George Dalaras Performs: The Epic Spanish-language ‘Misa Criolla’

Dalaras is one of the few Greek performers to have given Greece the reputable name it holds today worldwide. For almost six decades he has traveled the globe leaving a reputation behind him for his professionalism – a trait absent in many of our compatriots who come today to accuse him for speaking up and expressing his views.

Dalaras: Dedicated to his Art

George Dalaras: Greek Singer Extraordinaire

Dalaras has sung everything from political song, popular song, art song, laika and rebetika (his father, Loukas Daralas, was a major rebetis of the time), and has collaborated with internationally acclaimed musicians bringing them closer to Greece and its musical culture. He is humble and hard working. Dedicated to his art.

Dalaras has also for almost 60 years been the voice of Greece for those who today we lovingly call “Greeks abroad” but back then were merely immigrants facing the hardships of isolation, racism and nostalgia for the homeland. My parents were among them.

The first songs I remember hearing as a child (in the US) were Pagose I Tsiminiera (The Smokestack Froze) and To Dentro” (The Tree) both deeply political songs. And the haunting voice of Cretan Nikos Xylouris off Kapnismeno Tsoukali (The Smoking Pot) album.

Greek Political Song: Get up, Stand up, Sing Out for Your Rights

I have been to almost all of Dalaras’ concerts, in Athens and in Chicago, and only stopped going for a while because I felt he had at some point turned his talent and his art into a finely-tuned profession – something I believe cannot be applicable when it comes to any form of art because true art by definition cannot be tweaked, preset or manipulated in a way to benefit the artist, a company or any entity for that matter.

When this happens, it becomes obvious and can be felt at least to those who were once touched. In Greece, when this happens we call it “arpachti” – which means an artist (or any professional for that matter) will get big undeclared bucks (or is it euros still?) for doing a one-off. I have been to many “arpachtes” by some of the country’s most popular and highly-respected artists, who should have been ashamed for treating their fans with such ingratitude. These very same artists are now taking their ‘art’ a step further advertising everything from credit cards to yogurt. Dalaras has never in his long career – however “flat” and purely professional his concerts may have been.

The Ultimate Guide to Greek Music 

George Dalaras: Greek Singer Extraordinaire

The event in 2012 by a group of supposedly thinking protesters who tossed yogurts at Dalaras – who was singing during a free series of concerts around Athens, which he planned for his fans due to the difficult economic times – shamed Greece and its people. Not only because it validated such behavior, but because it demonstrated backwardness, ignorance and lack of focus.

The very same applies today in 2024, when rightfully so he expressed his own view of reality in his field saying that it is a shame for singers to take advantage of their popularity and fans to advertise “burgers and sausages”… and I dare to add, to turn into politicians also. After his comment he was attacked by younger singers who have rights today because it was artists like himself who stood up for these in the past and was inundated by swarming young reporters seeking a comment. “Work is doing something with consistency, ethos and principles,” he said.

“What you are doing here today is ridiculous… and you are aware of this deep inside. You would prefer to be somewhere else with other working conditions and not being exploited like chickens chasing after famous people to make a living which is not even certain,” he said politely.

To be honest, dear readers, Dalaras merely had the guts free of yoke madness to express Greek reality as raw as it is today. We live in a ‘totalitarian’ democracy which creates in us the illusion of freedom and yet our salaries are good for peanuts only and our education and experience pointless. Instead on focusing on that, we turn to words and attack people who have something to say that hurts.

If we feel angry and frustrated maybe we should turn the cameras and spotlight towards our politicians, it is they after all who got us and keep us in this predicament and allow our artists to do what they do best art.

I have been a fan of Dalaras ever since I can remember myself and will continue to be not for what he is now, nor for what he is in his personal life, but for managing to make me think through his songs, for touching me with his voice, and for making me feel proud to be a Greek.

We often make the mistake of thinking singers are something special – well, they are not. First we give them super powers and then we judge them based on that. They too are people like us. They too make mistakes. And they too are human with all the passions and weaknesses humans have. No one has the right to treat an artist with such contempt. If you don’t like him or his views, go to another concert, turn off the TV. That’s is after all the true greatness of art and life – the freedom to choose.

11 Albums by George Dalaras you should definitely add to your music library

  1. Latin

2. Misa Criolla

3. 50 Years of the Rebetiko (Greek Blues)

4. Sta Psila Ta Parathyria

5. Ta Hromata Tou Hronou

6. Radar

7. Mikra Asia (Asia Minor songs with favorite Greek singer Haris Alexiou)

8. Thelo Na Ta Po

9. Didimotycho Blues

10. Thalassografies

11. I Maides I Ilioi Mou

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4 thoughts on “George Dalaras: Greek Singer Extraordinaire”

  1. I’m an American born with a mother from Brasil and a father that was Greek. I’m proud of both my parents and thankfully they introduced us kids to Greek Music. You can imagine how much I love the double album Greek and Latin. George Dalaras, ohhhh Man! Got to see him at Fisher Theater in Detroit! Epic Concert!

    1. How lucky can one be, Ellen? Two great music traditions! Dalaras’ Latin album is also my favorite and there are artists from Latin America and Mexico performing on the album. I also suggest you listen to Dalaras in Misa Criolla I am sure with your background you will appreciate it doubly!

  2. Love your article.
    George Dalaras is my favorite greek singer or any music type singer of all time. I have all of his music.
    When he performed in Vancouver, Canada many years ago I managed to get a picture with him which I treasure. His voice lost some of its power now but he is still the best and always will be.

    1. I have to admit that he is one of mine too. I grew up listening to his songs because my mother and uncle always had Greek music playing in the house. I have seen him live more than any other singer. He actually is one of the few singers to have managed to fill the Olympic stadium twice 70,000 people each time. He is talented, professional, diverse and dedicated.

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