Giorgos Ntalaras or Dalaras, is one of the most important Greek singers of all times. Giorgos Ntalaras has a distinctive strong voice, and the ability to sing almost any genre of Greek music.
It comes as no surprise that Dalaras has dominated the musical scene of Greece for many decades, and his concerts are always the talk of the town.
Dalaras or Ntalaras?
The name of the popular singer is Γιώργος Νταλάρας in Greek, so the correct transliteration of his last name into latin characters is Ntalaras. However the spelling Dalaras is closer to the sound of his last name in Greek, and it is also used in the official website of the singer: www.dalaras.gr
Giorgos Ntalaras – Biography
Giorgos Dalaras was born in the neighborhood of Nea Kokkinia in Piraeus in 1949.
Dalaras’ father is one of the greatest Greek singers of rembetika, Loukas Ntaralas. The son Ntaralas (Giorgos) decided to change his surname to Ntalaras, because it sounded better.
Giorgos is obliged to work even as a kid to help his family since his father leaves home. However, it is already evident that he has his father’s charisma.
The first recording with his voice comes with one of his father’s songs when he is 15 years old. It is the song “Pikros kaimos”. While still at school, at the age of 17 he starts singing professionally in small stages.
Ntalaras’ beginning was at the stage “Stellakis” with Stelios Perpiniadis; he plays the guitar and sings, while at the same time he does some recordings but he is rejected because most professionals think that he is too young and his voice is not mature enough.
In 1967 Ntalaras records his first professional song “Prosmoni”, but is censored due to the lyrics that offended the regime of the junta at the time.
Some months later, Spiros Zagoreos who is a close friend of Dalaras’ father, calls Makis Matsas of the Minos Music Company and invites him to his club in Plaka to listen to Dalaras sing live. Indeed Matsas goes and he is enthousiastic about this new discovery. A few days later Dalaras signs his first contract.
In 1968 he starts participating in more albums, and he records his first personal album with songs composed by Stavros Kougioumtzis, Loukianos Kilaidonis, Giorgos Mitsakis and more. That was just the beginning; since then Ntalaras has sold more than 10 million albums in Greece.
Giorgos Ntalaras’ career in Greek music
The greatest composers and lyric writers in Greece trust Dalaras’ voice and give him some great songs; Apostolos Kaldaras entrusts him and Haris Alexiou in two of the most successful albums ever in Greek music – “Micra Asia” and “Vyzantinos Esperinos”.
Mikis Theodorakis gives him songs for the album “18 lianotragouda” and in 1975 he records the album “50 years of rembetika” that introduces this genre of music to many people who were not fond of it until then. He continues his live performances in the small clubs of Plaka and dowtown Athens that were known as “boites” from the French word for the small box.
The 80s is the decade of live concerts. He is one of the first singers to sing in open theaters and stadiums. In 1983 he gives two sold out concerts in the Olympic Stadium of Athens (80.000 tickets each concert).
Ntalaras visits Europe and the USA frequently, giving concerts for the Greek expats and participates in international festivals such as in Cuba, in Europalia Festival in Brussels, the Peace Festival of Vienna, the Youth Festival of Moscow and more.
Till today, Giorgos Ntalaras always gives sold out concerts everywhere he goes.
Dalaras, a pioneer singer
Dalaras has been a pioneer in many things in Greek music; first of all he managed to bring people closer to genres that were either ignored or not considered important, such as the rempetika songs and the Latin songs. His album “Latin” is among the best seller albums of all times in Greece.
He performed songs of all genres, including folk songs, laika songs and songs from Asia Minor, Thrace, Pontus and the islands. Maybe his performances were not equally great in everything, but he has added something new to each one of these genres.
Dalaras has worked with the most important Greek singers, Greek composers and lyric writers, but he has also performed with numerous international artists, such as Paco de Lucia, Al di Meola, Ariel Ramirez, Goran Bregovic, Sting, Joan Faulkner, Bruce Springsteen, Peter Gabriel, Ian Anderson.
Ntalaras and the concerts for Cyprus
Ntalaras’ dedication to the cause of Cyprus must be mentioned here: for many years he has been giving concerts all over the world for the Cypriot people pro bono, giving all the money of these concerts to the families of the Cypriots that died during the Turkish invasion in 1974.
Most importantly, these concerts have informed many people on the Cypriot issue; although Ntalaras has received severe critics on his decision to perform for Cyprus, some of the most important concerts for the cause are the one in Wembley stadium in London and the Chicago Theatre Arena.In 1994 he received the John Kennedy Award for his efforts.
Giorgos Ntalaras or Dalaras is definitely an artist who stands out in Greek music; some people consider him and Haris Alexiou the two most distinctive Greek singers today.