The concert ensemble My Sweet Canary was founded in 2010 during the production of the documentary film of the same name, a musical and cinematic journey through the life and music of Roza Eskenazi, directed and produced by Roy Sher (Israel). The original My Sweet Canary tribute concert to Roza Eskenazi was conceived as the musical climax of the &64257;lm and was based on a very simple idea: gathering the modern Greek, Turkish and Jewish musicians featured in the film to present Roza Eskenazi's multicultural biography and repertoire in a spectacular show which took place in 2010.
The ensemble now consists of three singers from Greece, Turkey and Israel, accompanied by six acclaimed musicians from Greece and Turkey, who interpret a colourful programme drawing on Roza Eskenazi's repertoire in Greek and Turkish, as well as songs of her Sephardic background in Ladino.
Yota Nega, considered to be one of the great "rembetiko" voices in Greece, was born and raised in Athens, where she started singing after finishing her high school studies, going on to win wide acclaim for her 2003 recording debut. She has performed with the Estoudiantina Orchestra, Yorgos Dalaras, Glykeria, Eleni Vitali, and many others.
Mehtap Demir was born in Ardahan, east Turkey. She sings all styles of Turkish maqam and folk music and also plays the kemane and gourd violins, ba&287;lama (saz), rebab and kemanche. She is a professor of ethnomusicology at the University of Istanbul.
Mor Karbasi burst onto the global world music scene in 2008 with the release of her first album, The Beauty and the Sea and has continued to capture audiences internationally with her gorgeous, exceptional voice. Influenced by several cultures, though mainly by her Jewish heritage, she performs a predominantly Sephardic repertoire: from traditional Jewish songs to her own contemporary compositions.
Yota Nega vocals
Mehtap Demir vocals
Mor Karbasi vocals
Kyriakos Gouventas violin
Mumin Sesler kanun, oud, arranger
Dimtris Mystakidis guitar
Pavlos Pafranidis bouzouki
Kostas Theodorou percussion
Dimitris Baslam double bass
The concert includes rare archive footage of Roza Eskenazi, as well as scenes taken from the documentary film.
Producers of My Sweet Canary film and concert:
Roy Sher and Elpida Markianidou.
Roza Eskenazi sang the way she lived: with passion, fire and love. She was the "queen of rembetiko" in the early 20th century, famous in Greece and Turkey the first true "star" of rembetiko. She was born in Istanbul to a Sephardic family in the last years of the 19th century. During her early childhood they moved to Thessaloniki, still part of the Ottoman Empire but soon to be part of the Greek national state. Roza's rise to fame began in the late 1920s, after she was discovered at a club in Piraeus by composer and director of Columbia records in Greece, Panagiotis Toundas. At the height of her career, during the 1930s, Roza recorded 40 songs each year, in different musical styles (rembetiko, Greek and Turkish folk songs, island songs, etc.), and performed not only in Greece, but also in Turkey, Albania, Egypt and eventually, in the United States. She sang in Greek, Turkish, Armenian and Ladino.
Rembetiko, the "Greek blues", is a musical genre that lies at the crossroads of East and West, an apt reflection of the region into which it was born. It evolved from the music that the refugees from Asia Minor brought with them to Greece in the 1920s and first emerged in the hash-dens and prisons of the harbour cities of Thessaloniki and Piraeus. It went on to give voice to the misery of the victims of the great "population exchange" between what had become Turkey and Greece. It was part of an underground subculture, on the verge of legality, a strong Eastern-sounding contrast to the West-oriented music cafes where tango and waltzes were played for the bourgeoisie. The original rembetiko started to decline after World War II, but even though that world has vanished, its reminiscent spirit lingers in the songs that are interpreted with great passion until today. An intriguing characteristic of the general song repertoire of that time is that successful songs were often adopted and adapted by the different ethnic groups and styles; and so you will find recordings of different versions of the same song in Turkish, Greek and Ladino.