'My dream is to sing at the Pyramids of Giza': Greek singer Alkistis Protopsalti

Eman Youssef, Thursday 19 Jan 2023

Renowned Greek singer and songwriter Alkistis Protopsalti has inspired many singers and artists worldwide with her outstanding voice and unique performances.



Protopsalti, who was born in Alexandria, is one of the most prominent singers in Greece.

“The beginning came very calmly.  I was a 100 meters athlete and I loved sports, but God had other plans by giving me two centimeters of vocal chords. When the moment of truth arrived, a little bell rang and I chose songs and art as what I wanted to do in my life,” Protopsalti said, adding that she considers all the phases of her life equally important as each made her what she is today. 

Protopsalti's 48-year-long musical career includes appearing with rock groups, piano and voice recitals, and concerts with symphonic orchestras at many incredible theatres, including ancient stages. 

She also loves many music genres, singers such as Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Maria Callas, Luciano Pavarotti, the Rolling Stones, Stevie Wonder, Tina Turner, Amalia Rodriguez, Michael Jackson, Donna Summer, Elton John, Patrick Swayze, the Gypsy Kings, Frank Sinatra, and the Bee Gees, as well as Grigoris Bithikotsis and Vicky Mosholiou.

“Music has always accompanied man. Many times it awakens, calms, and arouses… its role was, is and will always be powerful. I believe that music is the mother of the arts,” she emphasised. 

“We meet music at the moment of the birth of man. The sounds of nature and man’s attempt to imitate them were the first songs. Music dresses most of the other arts and makes them more complete. In difficult times we turn to art more, searching for somewhere to place our emotions.” 

Currently, Protopsalti is working on new songs, multiple tours in Europe, the US and Australia. “I believe it will be a good year. My dreams are countless and never ending. I would love to sing accompanied by the Cairo Symphony Orchestra at the Pyramids,” she revealed.

She has a talent for performing in various languages, whereas the songs are heard in different ways. “I like to honour the country that has invited me, to sing a song in their own language. She sings in Chinese, English, Spanish, French, Arabic, Swahili and Armenian. I have a weakness for Spanish because it is closer to Greek and Swahili because it is connected to an incredible concert which I gave at an orphanage in Kenya.”

As for Protopsalti’s lifestyle, she likes to wake up early to watch the sunrise, exercise, swim and walk.  “I thrive within nature and music. I adore the universe of music, travelling and discovering the world. I enjoy being with friends, going to the cinema and theatre. I love life and people.” 

Protopsalti believes that music is like a mine, when you dig with your hands, you will find diamonds. “Carpe Diem,” she notes adding, “seize the day; do not waste it because life is short. That is my motto,” she emphasised.

“I love musicals and I visit New York and London regularly to watch performances. I also like rock and roll... I listen to music according to how I feel and the mood of the moment.”

Protopsalti highlighted that the artist's role in society is important. “The role of art has been, is and will be powerful. In the last few years, people have turned to art more and more. People look for somewhere to place their emotions. This is magic,” she notes.

Through her art, the singer wants to deliver messages of love to people, respect for life, the environment, animals and nature. “We sing against violence, especially violence against women and children.”

As for her advice to young singers, Protopsaltis believes that if you truly love something, you should not hurry. “Start slowly to achieve your goal. Create strong roots, absorb knowledge, and listen to your elders and people who you trust. Let things evolve naturally. Analyze what you experience, absorb and proceed. No discount on your dreams; do things in the way that represents you.”

She also said that the main keys to success are talent, devotion to the goal and development. “Talent is a unique quality, you cannot buy or learn it however much money you may have. Talent is a natural gift, yet it needs work and effort in order to be developed.”

Protopsalti says the best moment on stage is when your voice unites with the voices of the people at the concert and a huge choir emerges. “It is amazing how one song can unite the world.”

The singer has some memories from Alexandria, the best of which were when she was very young with her parents by the sea, when they used ride in the horse-drawn carriage and eat ice cream on the beach.

She recalls her school, the Averofio, the coffee shop with her grandfather, falafel, and her grandmother “who made the best molokhia. We left when I was seven years old, but the air, the sun, the sensations and smells of Alexandria have stayed forever in my soul. I returned to that city for the first time after 30 years for a television program on a famous Greek TV channel. I sang in the Alexandrian library. I returned quietly for a holiday and recently for the award at the Alexandria film festival,” she said, adding that “two things never change in Egypt; the pyramids and the voice of Oum Kalthoum. I also like Fayruz, Hakim and Amr Diab.”

“The award, which I received recently in my Alexandria, is the closest to my heart. It was presented to me by the famous actor Mahmoud Hemeida at the 38th Alexandria Mediterranean Countries Film Festival. During the festival, when I said ‘Alexandria, I love you’, the crowd answered back; Alexandria loves you too. I dedicated the award to my parents.” 

Protopsati has participated in many social initiatives, and she believes that it is very important to be able to help people through art; to do the good even in small and trivial things. This will return to you, she says. 

“Doing good is a choice, this is the time for support and love. For this purpose, I have given many performances from New York to Berlin and from Maui to Kenya. It is wonderful to help those whose voices cannot be heard.” 

She is also grateful to many people for being there through her life journey, including composers, poets, lyricists, people from the arts but also anonymous people. 

“The lyrics touch me first and then the music. I would call it instinct. It depends on the moment, emotions, the need to express myself. It is a deeply personal thing and not at all random,” Protopsalti explained. 

“I believe the basis is that you provide the impetus to continue the journey. I like to mix scores and combine the past with the present. I sing what represents my soul and so far, this instinct has never betrayed me, and I feel truly blessed that what moved me touched other people too.”

According to Protopsalti, technology plays an important role in all fields today and has radically changed the means of contact with the public. It has brought about great changes in the way music is created and transferred. We have computers and machines at our disposal which provide easy access to musical libraries; we can listen to what we want whenever and wherever we are. “Our times are racing at the speed of light and one has to be a passenger on this spaceship,” she comments.

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