Sotiria Bellou

1921 - 1997

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Sotiria Bellou was the most significant Rebetissis of the "Classical"  generation of Rebetiko artists .  In fact she is the best known female vocalist from that entire period .  With her characteristic " take care of business"  no nonsense delivery , she was a vocalist very much in demand by all the major composers of the day .  In some respects Sotiria Bellou represented the Rebetissis as outsider in more ways then one .  First of all she was Lesbian .  Secondly she had been a member of the communist party during the forties and third she was absolutely uncompromising and unwavering in her commitment to her art .  She was an  " I Derbetissa"  of the first order with an interpretive style , that usually emphasized the darker as well as deeper elements of the human condition . There was nothing manufactured or contrived in this approach , it was all quite natural and very much in character for a Sotiria Bellou , whose first name interestingly enough translates to Salvation .  Born to middle class parents , she did not have to suffer the indignities or deprivations of  poverty while in her childhood .  However her life was to become quite marginal during the War years when she was reduced to selling confectioneries on the Street and even working for a time  as a maid .  After the war she began performing in various tavernas and eventually came to the attention of one Vasilis Tstisanis . Tsitsanis immediately recognized her extraordinary talent and began composing songs for her .  She made her first of many recordings around 1947 and became a Rebetiko stalwart thereafter .  Her career had it 's up and downs following the on again off again popularity of the genre but she has always remained a perennial favorite among well seasoned Rebetiko fans .  By the time she passed away recently in 1997, she had left a legacy , that will forever serve to define the standard for artistic professionalism in the art of  " I Derbederissa" .