Greek singer Maria Stefanidakis talks about the Blues n' Rock counterculture, local scene, Woodstock, and muses

"I surely miss the optimistic lyrics which embraced the glory of love and life itself. The music which was written by the whole band spending time together. I fear the universal misery and the easy way getting in music. I hope for something original reminding me of the good old pattern."

Maria Stefanidakis: Rock, Peace & Love

Known for her passionate, driven performances, powerhouse Greek vocalist Maria Stefanidakis delivers a blistering mix of contemporary & old school rock, soul and blues. The single most impressive emerging female vocalist I've heard in quite some time. Maria college training was in theater performance and voice. Her professional career started as lead singer in a popular Athenian rock band of “WHY NOT?”. Maria Stefanidakis, a woman of fire, a hippy soul, a living blast from the past, in search of good, decent and happy world for a change. She's enjoying nature, life, music and friendship, standing there for everyone who needs assistance naturally or mentally. Maria learned how to manage life, by enjoying life removing any influences or attitudes not suitable to her ideas about dignity and order. Hard to handle, she has a unique way of approach others and vice versa. Beware of her attitude, pay attention to details if you want to stay in her close circle of friends.

Maria Stefanidakis, 2017 / Photo © by Giannis Catchthemoment (Vlaseros)

Greek guitarist Pericles Palamiotis says: She's treating the goods of nature as well as music, in a passionate way, that steams out all the delightful elements, opening her mind and soul, expressing real authenticity and wisdom. Once you're a friend of her, passwords removed and gates open, revealing who she really is, while the others wonder and get confused, often scared of her strength and determination. She prefers to interact only with original personalities in life and in music, such as Louisiana Red for instance, who shared the stage with her. She's a powerful singer and a hidden lyricist, writing lyrics for songs soon to be discovered by her audience in her band's upcoming debut album "Why Not?" - the name of the band which she's leading for almost 17 years, enjoying live gigs and concerts.

Interview by Michael Limnios

Photos: Victoria Tatiana Bogdanova & Giannis Catchthemoment / All rights reserved

How has the Blues and Rock counterculture influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

My whole life is totally connected with the Blues and Rock counterculture. Every day I wake up with a different song on my mind. In every situation, in every place I've been, there's always the right melody and lyrics to express my feelings. So I guess it's more than an influence. It's the only way for me to be.

What do you learn about yourself from the Blues and Rock people and culture? What does the blues mean to you?

I got the blues since I was born. My soul had already chosen for me. I walk on my rocky road every day and I keep it real. Nothing comes easy. I work really hard every day and I am determined to be myself no matter what. Only the same cultured people can understand. For others I'm probably an alien.

What were the reasons that you started the music researches? How do you describe your songbook and sound?

I remember myself singing and writing lyrics since I was a little kid. As a teenager I suddenly listened to the goddess Janis Joplin. I was so thrilled...I found my own path then and stayed there. Then came along Led Zeppelin, Bessie Smith, Jimmy Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, Robert Johnson, Nina Simone etc. I was like a hungry child and these voices, these electric and blues sounds kept me fed and satisfied.

"My whole life is totally connected with the Blues and Rock counterculture. Every day I wake up with a different song on my mind. In every situation, in every place I've been, there's always the right melody and lyrics to express my feelings. So I guess it's more than an influence. It's the only way for me to be." (Maria Stefanidakis on stage, Athens 2017 / Photo © by Victoria Tatiana Bogdanova)

Which acquaintances have been the most important experiences? What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?

I was so lucky to start singing "professionally" next to great and experienced musicians. It wasn't easy for me to keep up to their level as you understand. But they were always standing by me and giving me a hand. The best advice ever was: "Sing it your way. Make it yours."

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

I surely miss the optimistic lyrics which embraced the glory of love and life itself. The music which was written by the whole band spending time together. I fear the universal misery and the easy way getting in music. I hope for something original reminding me of the good old pattern.

If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

I'd like to see the non-famous musicians getting more appreciated and played well, so they can continue giving, without worrying about their living. Also, I'm tired of seeing non-talented people on the scene...

What has made you laugh and what touched (emotionally) you from the local Greek scene and circuits?

I always laugh when I see on stage the rich and untalented. I'm always touched by the poor and super talented especially the older ones. I have great respect for them.

"Revolution!!! Black people who could not work for health reasons started playing the blues. Turned their pain into art. Later on, at the war of Vietnam the whole musical industry rebelled against it. And these are just examples. Rock and blues always have a right thing to say and never stay silent."

(Maria Stefanidakis & Why Not?, Athens Greece 2017/ Photo © by Victoria Tatiana Bogdanova)

What does to be a female artist in a man’s world as James brown says? What is the status of women in music?

The women who worth it, have no problem. The world of music needs them. People admire them. Musicians love them. They are Muses. Pure inspiration.

What is the Impact of Blues and Rock music to the racial, political and socio-cultural implications?

Revolution!!! Black people who could not work for health reasons started playing the blues. Turned their pain into art. Later on, at the war of Vietnam the whole musical industry rebelled against it. And these are just examples. Rock and blues always have a right thing to say and never stay silent.

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really want to go for a whole day?

Don't give me just one day man. Give me the whole 3 days of peace and music 'cause Woodstock is the only place I'd like to be. More than 400.000 people together, love was in the air and the best musicians on stage. There could never be anything like that ever again . People have changed. But as Janis said "Honey get it while you can. Don't you turn your back on love..."

(Maria Stefanidakis on stage, Athens Greece 2017 / Photo © by Victoria Tatiana Bogdanova)

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