Sotiria was probably the most famous rebetiko singer of all, the one woman who is consistently mentioned in popular music guides all over the world. Born in 1921 in Halkida, she learned to play the guitar at an early age. After a brief marriage, Sotiria ended up in Athens in October, 1940, just as Greece became involved in WW2.
Earning her living as best she could while thousands of Greeks died of starvation in the bitter years of Italian and German Occupation, Sotiria used her guitar playing and vocal skills as her best way of earning enough food and money to survive. She eventually came to the attention of Vasilis Tsitsanis and with him recorded the first of her many 78 r.p.m. discs in 1947.
From about the mid-1950's until the rebetiko was rediscovered by a new generation, Sotiria, like many other popular artistes of her generation, found little work in the night-spots. Glitzy and glamourous younger women where now in demand as 'singers' and the bouzouki accompanied hack verses often set to music plagarised from the Indian-language films popular in Greece in the late-50s and 1960s.. In the mid-1960s the rebetiko and it's suriviving 'original' exponents were rediscovered by a new generation of students and other music lovers.
This revival peaked by the early 1980's, having taken off fully after the fall of the Junta in 1974. Sotiria continued her long singing and recording career until recently, due to ill health. A real living legend of the rebetiko, she lived her life uncompromisingly, making no secret of her preference for the company of women, her passion for gambling, and her devotion to quality popular music. Check Youtube for many fine performance and interview video clips.