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In case we might have given the impression that " Ta Rebetika" was something of an exclusive male club, read on. The men may have been writing most of the songs but more often then not, it was "I Derbederissa" who gave many of those compositions some of the greatest interpretations ever recorded.  However the Era of the Rebetissa is no more. It would be deceptive as well as somewhat disingenuous to characterize any of the younger female vocalist in Greece today as a " Rebetissa". That period quite frankly, has long gone with the wind.  Originally the term had an implication, that usually meant something other then just a singer of Rebetico music. It also implied the "Rebetic" lifestyle and consequently had a sociological connotation, that was not particularly complimentary. Today the term is used more in the literal sense and implies only a singer of Rebetiko music. While many of the contemporary female vocalists do occasionally incorporate Rebetiko compositions as part of their repertoire, few would be recognized by their peers as an "IDebederissa" Traditionalist. The Greek vocalists of today have a much wider repertoire of styles and compositions to select from and obviously have to cater to the contemporary commercial pressures of selling recordings to a generation, that usually cannot relate to the older Rebetic material and traditions. Consequently singers and musicians alike have been forced to become considerably less sophisticated in their approach to this material, as well as to it's performance values and characteristics. That unfortunately can translate into a real neglect for the " Real Thing ". Still, all is not lost quite yet.

Purists today might occasionally be heard to inquire, who could possibly probe the depths of the Rebetic soul in the way of a Sortiria Bellou.  Or who could even attempt to communicate the same expressions of  Hellenic Existential Angst with the same "matter of fact" subtleties, that made Ioanna Yeorgakopoulou such a Rebetic vocal powerhouse. The answer quite simply, is none. Even the genuine Rebetissis who are still actively performing such as Poly Panou or an Anna Chrysafi, who can legitimately lay claim to the title of "I Derbederissa" and who are also recognized as such by their peers, have had to develop a style and stage presentation, that has evolved considerably beyond what they may have done in the past. This is not to say that the contributions of the Rebetissis of days gone by have gone unrecognized. However the role played of the Rebetissis as a type of modern day Hellenic Heroine (or Anti-Heroine depending on your POV ), has unfortunately been forced to travel down the same road as that of her male counterpart. But never fear ! While the spirit may lie a bit dormant, it is still very much there and more often then not, lies at the very heart of the Greek female vocalist's Collective Psyche and Stage Persona.  Today the Rebetissis who can legitimately claim that title and who are still active, all very much hail from another generation. However when the women pictured above in the second row, want to let their hair down and play the part, you will see them take their place on the Rebetissis chair, give you that wry & mysterious smile along with "that look", that only an "I Derbederissa" seems to possess and proceed to demonstrate, that they too can indeed "Rebet" with the best of them. No their not Roza, Rita, Sortitia or Ioanna but that's an observation that's Academic and immaterial.  Did vocalists in the U.S.A stop singing the Blues because of the demise of the legendary Bessie Smith ?  Did the French put their Cabaret to bed because Edith Piaf is no longer with us ?  The answer is evident. If they had, Bluest Bessie would probably have turned an even deeper shade of Blue and the good Madam Piaf, would finally have had something to regret.  

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