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Chapter 5

Kyriakou Pelagia

Kyriakou Pelagia

Kyriakou Pelagia in her garden in Paralimni, October 2008
Photograph by Nicoletta Demetriou

The Housewife/ Grandmother-Star of Cyprus
by Nicoletta Demetriou

Kyriakou Pelagia passed her childhood and much of her adult life undertaking women's roles of village domesticity in Cyprus, as homemaker and cultivator of produce, caring for her husband, and raising a family. Singing was important to her as child, but she had no public outlet. Life changed in the 1990s with the introduction of private radio stations. Pelagia made frequent audible appearances, resulting in an invitation to perform with a local music ensemble and record a CD, which subsequently led to national fame. With a singing career as an older woman in her fifties, her social role and offstage life as a housewife and grandmother is integral to her vocal performances.

Nicoletta Demetriou: "I was born and raised in Nicosia, Cyprus. My maternal family hails from Paralimni, Kyriakou Pelagia's village. Pelagia and her husband, Giorgos, remember my grandparents, especially my grandfather Nicolas (nicknamed Koustros), working in the fields of the village, before leaving with my grandmother to live in the nearby town (Famagusta). In Paralimni's close-knit, family-oriented community, the fact that I was 'Koustros's granddaughter' (named after him, too—Nicoletta) not only helped to secure me an interview with Pelagia, but also immediately established a sense of familiarity and continuity. I've been singing Cypriot folksongs since childhood. As a child, I was part of a number of music and dance groups in Nicosia, and the singer of my school's folk dance group. As a secondary school student in Nicosia in the 1990s, I witnessed the rise of private radio stations as well as Pelagia's rise to fame.

"Next to folk singing I also studied classical singing for many years. After completing my secondary school education in Cyprus, I moved to Thessaloniki, Greece, where I completed a BA in Music Studies and continued my vocal training. Singing took me to Vienna next, where I had further vocal training. There I also studied Ethnomusicology at the Institute for Musicology of the University of Vienna, and decided to once again turn my attention to Cypriot folk music. In 2003 I rejoined a folk music group in Cyprus and began touring the island for performances in the summer months. In 2004 I moved to London to do a PhD in Ethnomusicology. During my fieldwork, in 2005-6, I continued singing throughout Cyprus with the group I was affiliated to. Back then I also met and interviewed a number of folk musicians. I did my first interview with Pelagia in May 2006, as part of my PhD research. I returned to Paralimni in October 2008 for further fieldwork and interviews with Pelagia for this volume."

Oloaspron Pezouni

Ολóασπρον πεζοúνι ("Oloaspron Pezouni"/"White Dove") [.m4a file]

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