Magical melodies on Rhodes
I come from Antalya, Turkey. From the musical experiences that I have had in my lifetime, I have learnt that folk music knows no borders. Folk music, which expresses the emotion, pain, joy, love, despair as well as optimism of simple, everyday people, is not bound by language, country or civilization. On the contrary, it unites cultures and brings people closer through its own language, its own special sounds.
While I obviously have Turkish roots, my soul also has an allegiance to Greece in much the same way. Greek people have embraced me with lots of love and affection and I have returned these feelings to them. No wonder really when you consider that my son was born here and his father is Greek. Let’s just say I am privileged enough to have two homelands. Not to mention that I am actually of the opinion that everyone’s homeland is mother earth. Therefore, I consider that one of the highlights of my career is my collaboration with Evanthia Reboutsika on the soundtrack of the 2003 film “A Touch of Spice” by director Tasos Boulmetis. In this production I was given the opportunity to adapt in Turkish the Greek lyrics written by the director as well as perform one of the best known songs of the movie, “Allspice, Cinnamon and Kiss” (Baharat, tarçın ve buse), for which Evanthia composed the music.
Rhodes, a cultural crossroads with centuries-old history
These lyrics are full of aromas, flavours and intense memories. Within those memories is also vividly inscribed a first childhood romance, the first flutter of the heart, the promise of a first kiss which tastes of “allspice and cinnamon”. It is a movie with a lot of emotion and humour which teaches us that “in order not to forget, we put the stories of our land into our food”.
I have sung in several places in Greece. Every corner of this country has something to excite me. The light, the landscape, the nature, the images, the hospitable, smiley people, and the scent of the flowers throughout the year I think are unique and they all strike up a special rapport with each different visitor. One of the places I will never forget is the island of Rhodes. A cultural crossroads with centuries-old history and a procession of peoples that have all left their mark on every town, village and building.
In one such building, the old Hotel of the Roses or Grande Albergo delle Rose, I had the pleasure of singing twice and I think it is one of the most beautiful and grandest buildings the Italians created on the island. It remained a favourite hotel among the aristocracy during the course of the 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s and now, after extensive renovations, both hotel and casino continue to uphold a formidable reputation for luxury. The first time I sang in its amphitheatre- almost unchanged since the time the hotel hosted important personalities from Greece and around the world- I felt myself overwhelmed by the fact that I was standing on the spot where Onassis, Churchill, Karamanlis and many others used to let their hair down. On the second occasion, my band and I performed in the hotel’s luxuriant garden, which has been styled into a beautiful, atmospheric restaurant, the Garden Café.
The wistful sea breezes made the perfect accompaniment to melodies born of a musical heritage shared by Greece and the Orient, enchanting guests and locals alike.