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The folk music of Greece is fused with modern pop sensibilities by vocalist and songwriter Haris Alexiou. Dubbed "Haroula" ("Little Grace") by her fans, Alexiou has emerged as one of the best examples of the deep, throaty style of Greek Byzantine singing. According to Dirty Linen, Alexiou's "...passionate vocals really soar over the music and are a real delight to listen to." A veteran of more than 20 years in the music business, Alexiou sings in French, German and Arabic and specializes in the traditional Greek style of rembetika, which combines folk music (dhimotica) and oriental urban music (smyrneika).
Alexiou's ancestral roots lie in Thebes in Asia Minor. Her family moved to Greece following the signing of the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923. The turning point in her musical career came in 1972, when she successfully auditioned for a multi-artist, Apostoles Kaldaras-produced album, Mikra Asia ("Asia Minor" — Turkey). The album became a major hit in eastern Europe. Alexiou's debut album, Laika Tragoudia ("12 Folk Songs"), was released in 1975 and included the single "Dimitroula," which was the top-selling single in Greece during the 1970s. Following the collapse of military regime in Greece, Alexiou performed in a series of stadium concerts that she shared with political Greek vocalist Theodorakis and released a double album, Ta Tsilika, featuring Greek folk songs from 1900 to 1940.
During the 1990s, Alexiou teamed with songwriter Nikos Andypas, whom she met when he was playing drums for Theodorakis. Their first collaboration, Di Efchon ("With Blessings"), with lyrics by Lina Nikalakopoulou, became one of the first Greek albums released outside of Greece. In addition to being issued in France, Belgium, Israel and Japan, the album became her first release in the U.S. in January 1998.
Alexiou showcased her skills as a songwriter with her 1995 album, Odos Nefelys '88 ("Cloud Street '88"). Gyriziontas Ton Kosmos ("Going 'Round the World"), released the following year, and Ena Fili Tou Kosmou released in 1997, included recordings from her concerts between 1992 and 1996.