NEW YORK – Lorrie Doriza, Greek-American songwriter, composer and performer, is bringing her grandfather Tony Rais’ lost music from the Old Athens Era back to life with a remarkable project which began as a birthday gift for her mother. Doriza spoke with The National Herald about the resulting album, titled Den S'Afino Na Mou Fygeis (I Could Never Let You Leave Me) and its title track- set to be released January 21, as well as the bittersweet story behind the effort to share her grandfather’s voice and this charming music- unheard for over 80 years until now.
Doriza told TNH, “This year, my mom [Zoe Apostolopoulou] turned 70 and for her birthday I wanted to put together an album of songs her father never got a chance to record.”
“Her father, Tony Rais (stage name), was a Greek singer and ‘diseur’ of the Old Athens era of Greek music back in the 30s and 40s,” Doriza explained. “This wasn't your typical bouzouki style of music. This was Euro-inspired cabaret and vaudeville, something many Greeks don't even know about. Tony Rais was a rising star in the scene and was well-known, singing with famous singers, even being invited to sing at the Greek Royal Palace, working with acclaimed composers, really doing well.”
She continued, “Sadly, Tony Rais' career was tragically cut short when just as access to music recording technology became available in postwar Greece, he was diagnosed with throat cancer and had to have his vocal cords removed. This shattered any hopes that he'd ever sing again, let alone record the songs he made famous. He spoke with an electrolarynx machine for the rest of his life and those songs haven't been heard since. My mom never knew what her father's voice sounded like.”
Doriza told TNH, “As a singer myself, I can't imagine what he must've gone through, so I wanted to try and put some pieces together. Cut to 70-ish years later, my brother, Petros Dorizas, a historian, and I started doing a little digging and after hounding music libraries, collectors and archives, I discovered the remnants of 10 scores with his photo on the cover, or a dedication to him in the notes. These were songs that he had made famous in his live club performances.”
She noted that “a project that started out as a gift for my mom's 70th birthday turned into… an obsession. Over the past year, my collaborator Dan Wilson and I, took the sheet music to these songs, re-imagined and re-orchestrated them for small orchestra, then had musicians record themselves from their homes (during quarantine!) to bring these songs to life.”
“I sang the songs my grandfather sang in the hopes that you can hear his voice through mine,” Doriza told TNH. “Now, I have an album of 10 songs of beautiful, never before heard, Greek music that I believe has the power to touch the hearts of many, and I believe the Greek community in particular should know about Tony Rais.”
When asked how long the process took from idea to realization, Doriza told TNH, “This was initially a birthday gift and family heirloom for my mom who turned 70 and who had never heard her father's songs, let alone his voice before. I had been keeping this project from her for years. It started about seven years ago, my research started on a whim with a single ping on the Lillian Voudouri Library website- one piano and vocal score with my grandfather's photo on the cover. I needed to know if there were more and after six years of research, with libraries, collectors and archivists, my brother and I uncovered 10 songs that Tony Rais sang or had a dedication written to him in the liner notes.”
She continued, “For the past year during quarantine, I worked with my musical collaborator, Dan Wilson, to arrange and re-imagine the music for small orchestra and jazz band, and we somehow managed to record all musicians separately from their homes and bring everything together.”
When asked where in Greece the family is from, Doriza told TNH, “Tony Rais is originally from Patra, his wife (my namesake) Lorrie from Athens, and Kefalonia from my father's side.”
Of her upcoming projects, she said, “I'm working on a few projects currently. I'm finishing the sophomore album with my pop group Vespertina, a collaboration with legendary underground hip hop producer Stoupe from Jedi Mind Tricks. This second album explores the idea of being an aging musician in constant conflict with the creative pursuit and the need and constraints of the corporate life. Hopefully with a release a little later this year. I'm also working with my collaborator Dan Wilson on a full-length (and very Greek) musical!”
When asked how she came to be based in New York, Doriza told TNH, “My family moved a lot when I was younger for my mother's job and one of her many posts was in New York. I came here when I was 15 and have now been living here for 20 years. My family is back in Greece now that my mother has retired. With this project, I feel like I've not only connected with my grandfather and my family, but with a part of Greece that I never knew. I hope it will make you feel the same!”
The single Δεν Σ'αφήνω Να Μου Φύγεις (I Could Never Let You Leave Me) will be released January 21 via all streaming platforms (Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, etc.) and the following link offers a reminder of the release: https://distrokid.com/hyperfollow/lorriedoriza/—-
Lyric video available January 21 on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IfkxmMPhROI&feature=youtu.be
Follow Lorrie Doriza on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/7wSjmPpb0VhhoyMT9LdkcJ.
The album and single are also available for pre-order on Doriza’s Bandcamp before all other places: https://lorriedoriza.bandcamp.com/album/-.
The second single Στον Κόσμο Καμμία Δεν Σου Μοιάζει will be released in mid-February and the full album Δεν Σ'αφήνω Να Μου Φύγεις: Τα Χαμένα Σουξέ Του Τώνη Ράις will be released mid-March.
More information about Lorrie Doriza is available online: https://www.lorriedoriza.com/bio.