Prominent Greek folk artist Domna Samiou passed away on Saturday evening at the age of 84. The singer and researcher of Greek traditional music had been recently admitted to hospital due to health related problems.
The folk singer was suffering from leukemia and was hospitalized at the Amalia Fleming Hospital of Athens.
Domna Samiou was born on October 12, 1928, in the district of Kaisariani, Athens. Her parents were refugees from the village of Bayindir near Izmir, Asia Minor. At the age of 13, whilst attending night school, Samiou received her first formal musical training from Simon Karas at the Association for the Dissemination of National Music, where she was tutored in Byzantine and folk music, as well as introduced to the idea of field research in music.
Her first professional collaboration was with the National Radio Foundation (E.I.R.), the state-run national radio station of Greece at the time, when she was a member of the Simon Karas choir. In 1954 she became a full-time employee of the station, working in the National Music Section, in effect the folk music section of E.I.R.
In 1963, Samiou started travelling independently around Greece in order to take field notes and collect music material for her personal archive.
Then, in 1971, she left her radio job entirely to focus on her own musical career, accepting an invitation by the composer and performer Dionyssis Savvopoulos to sing at a club called Rodeo, frequented by a youthful anti-junta audience.
In 1981, Domna Samiou founded the “Domna Samiou Greek Folk Music Association”, a non-profit organization aimed mainly at preserving and promoting Greek traditional music and facilitating the production of records and musical events to the highest standards, free from the demands of commercial record companies.
Her work has been recognized both within and outside Greece. In 2005, the former President of the Hellenic Republic, Costis Stefanopoulos, had presented her with a medal of honor for her overall contribution in preserving the cultural heritage of Greek rural music.
For over half a century she has been collecting, recording and performing all over the world the traditional songs of Greece (demotika), appealing not only to the Greek diaspora, but also introducing non-Greek audiences to traditional Greek folk music.
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