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ARTICHOKE: My Arleta

By Melissa Hekkers

Arleta must have been one of the first Greek singers I got to know when I first moved to this side of the Mediterranean, and, even as a child, there was something about her voice that was ultimately soothing.

It enabled me to listen to her, even though my musical tastes were, at the time, more inclined toward artists like Madonna.

It was upon one of her frequent visits to the island that I got to see her live on stage, a memorable experience not just because of Curium and the backdrop of the full moon on the occasion, but because by then my Greek had started taking shape. It was at this concert that I began to register or, should I say, understand, what it was that she was singing about.

Her repertoire from then on became very much part of my musical whims. Her lyrics shed light on the subtleties she was able to marshal in order to manifest the deepest of meanings, all the while maintaining a class which came to be recognised internationally.

A petite lady, who modestly made her presence on stage, she didn’t seem to exude much of an aura before she leaned her body over her guitar. It was only when she began to play and accompany her notes with her voice and lyrics that she almost effortlessly mesmerised audiences.

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She maintained this stance even when off-stage: seldom did she place herself in the limelight – her presence in the media and the showbiz world was always scarce. I guess she used her music to express what she needed to and that was, respectfully, more than enough.

Her passing on Tuesday evoked a profound grief for her upcoming silence, yet also an admiration for the life and work she has left behind for us.

She also made me think about the role models I looked up to as a child. It made me realise that, in truth, there are very few of them who derive from a younger generation. Indeed, who do our children have as role models nowadays?

Rest in peace, Arleta.

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