Many celebrated figures over the years have written their memoirs, revealing details about their lives and insights into what helped them succeed in their chosen field. Fans, eager to learn everything about their favorite celebs often buy up copies, making the celebrity memoir a highly popular genre. Nonfiction often tops the charts and the bestsellers lists. To Ksantho Koritsi tis Santorinis (The Blond Girl of Santorini)by Mariza Koch (Μαρίζα Κωχ) is a memoir by the renowned Greek singer whose career stretches back fifty years. She tells the story of her early life, born in Athens to a Greek mother from Santorini and a German father, Mariza moved at a young age to her mother’s village.
With affection, humor, and insight, the beloved singer recounts her childhood years in Santorini, bringing to life an entire era, the difficult post-war period. Koch pays tribute to the experiences that shaped her as a human being, as a music educator, and as a performer.
The book includes photographs and two songs from Santorini: the traditional To Astro tis Avgis (The Star of Dawn)which Koch performs, and her new song Apenanti sto Ifaesteio (Across from the Volcano). She said of the book, “I wrote this in response to the love I received in my fifty years of singing and I offer it to you. With the wish that all the children of the war, of every war, experience the love and healingasI did.”
Koch represented Greece in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1976 with Panagia Mou, Panagia Mou and though the song finished in 13th place, her performance won her many fans internationally. Her unique voice made quite an impression on audiences in the 1970s and 80s who were just discovering her then in the Greek diaspora communities. Koch moved seamlessly from one genre to another throughout her career. She creates a personal connection through her music whether she sings contemporary, jazz fusion, or the traditional folk songs of the islands. The elements of nature and the sea feature prominently in her music, demonstrating the powerful effect growing up on Santorini had on Koch as an artist. In 2010, Alpha TV ranked her 29th on the list of top certified female artists in the Greek music industry since 1960.
The book begins with the ferry ride to Santorini in 1952 when eight year old Mariza and her sister Irene are being sent to live on the island, accompanied by Kyr Fotis, the mailman of the village, Mesa Gonia, where the girls will be living with their mother’s brother, Uncle Manolis and his family.
The vivid description of the mailman and his notebook with the list of items he was bringing back from Athens to the island, including at the top of the list, the two little girls, followed by four containers of oil for the local grocery store, two sacks of pasta, a sack of sugar, sardines, cigarettes, coffee, and halva, among other things, brings this moment in time to life. The Santorini natives who resided in Piraeus and in Athens also made requests which Kyr Fotis wrote down in the back of his notebook. They asked for split peas, black-eyed peas, fresh cheeses, tomato paste, eggs, and wine, the foods that would bring the taste of home to the big city.
To Ksantho Koritsi tis Santorinis is available in Greek online.