Despina Vandi Biography
Although born in Germany, Vandi's family was from Kavala, Greece, where she and her family moved when she was six years old. As a result, she did not learn German, unlike the rest of her family. She has one older brother and an older sister. Living in a lower middle-class family her dream was to become either an actress or a singer but she always knew that she should have something more solid as a background so she went on to study psychology, philosophy, and education at the University of Thessaloniki. At the start of her singing, Despina changed her last name to Vandi, to hide that she was singing from her parents.
Despina Vandi is married to Demis Nikolaidis, ex-international soccer player and former President of AEK soccer club. She has a five year old daughter named Melina and a son named Giorgos born in August 2007.
A Discovery Channel documentary entitled Europe's Richest People estimated Vandi and Nikolaidis' combined fortune to be in excess of 10 million euros in 2003.
On August 18, 2008, Vandi was in a car accident on Kifissias Avenue in Kifissia, Greece. The car she was in, driven by her chauffeur, slipped on an oil slick that leaked from a tanker truck causing the car to crash into the truck ahead of her. After drivers helped pull her out of the vehicle, she was transported by ambulance to the general hospital in Athens and then moved to a private clinic. Vandi only suffered a cut to her head and got stitches. After the accident, Greek media called it a "miracle" that Vandi only had minor injuries as her Porsche Cayenne was totaled beyond recognition. Vandi faced criticism after stating that she would rather have died than be left paralyzed and was asked to give a public apology but refused.
Despina Vandi's first album was released in 1994 under the Minos EMI label, titled Gela Mou (Smile at Me). This album was distinguished by her duet To Adieksodo (No Way Out) written by Vassilis Karras, with Giannis Parios, a very popular singer at the time.
In 1996, Despina Vandi released her next album, Esena Perimeno (You're The One I'm Waiting For). Hits on this album include Esena Perimeno, Den Pethainei I Agapi, and Efiges songs written by her friend and now musical director Tony Kontaxakis.
1997 proved to be a big year for Despina Vandi as she teamed up with popular songwriter Phoebus. Phoebus wrote the songs of Vandi's next album, Deka Entoles (Ten Commandments), which was awarded platinum status in Greece. Despina Vandi's partnership with Phoebus would turn out to be a very successful one, and they celebrated their 10 year partnership with the release of 10 Hronia Mazi (10 Years Together). With the success of "Deka Entoles" Despina Vandi quickly became popular in the Greek Music industry with a string of hits and popular appearances.
Later that year, Despina experimented with acting. She was asked to play a guest star role in the hit television show "Dio Xenoi" (Two Strangers). Despina accepted the role and made her first appearance on television. She played a singer of a local small city, who was able to change the sexuality of the main gay character. She managed to gain good reviews for her acting talent.
Despina's next album Profities (Prophecies) was released in 1999 and was certified gold the day of its release. It eventually became a triple platinum album in Greece. Later that year Despina gave her first sold-out solo concert at the concert hall of Lycabettus with 7,000 people in attendance.
In 2000, Despina Vandi released the single Ipofero (I Suffer). The single went six-times platinum and was awarded as being the most successful single of all time in Greece, by Richard Branson of Virgin.
Despina Vandi and Phoebus decided to sign with Heaven Music, a new break-out record label in 2001 owned by the Athena Group. Despina's next album Gia (2001), meaning "Hi" was a double album including 21 new songs. The album went 4x platinum in only 11 days. Many of the songs on the album became hits not only Greece, but also in neighboring countries such as Cyprus, Turkey and Lebanon. Shortly after, Vandi gave a free concert in Thessaloniki drawing in a reported 62,000 people.
At the 2002 World Music Awards, Vandi was awarded as the World's "Best Selling Greek Artist". It was the first time that this award was given to Greek artist who actually lived and worked in Greece. For her acceptance speech, Despina said "Above all though, I would like to thank my Greek fans around the world. I dedicate this award to all the Greeks who have supported me with their love all these years and it is because of them that I find myself here at this moment."
Following the success of Gia, Despina released a CD single titled "Ante Gia" (Goodbye) in 2002, with the title track being a remix of "Gia". The single also included three new tracks and another remix, and achieved double platinum status. Gia and "Ante Gia" were then compiled and re-released as "Gia & Ante Gia: Collector's Edition", along with four previously unreleased remixes.
With Gia having gone multi platinum in the Greek market, some of the songs broke out into the international market in neighboring countries. Seeing potential in an international career, she embarked on one in 2003.
Her first three international singles, "Gia" (2003), "Opa Opa" (2004) and "Come Along Now" (2005) entered the charts around the world. Her first internationally-distributed albums are named after the songs "Gia" and "Come Along Now". "Gia" and "Opa Opa" have both charted on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play and Hot Dance Airplay charts, with Gia reaching number 1 on the latter. All three singles reached #1 on the Australian charts.
She made an appearance on the hit international show Top of the Pops where she performed her song "Gia" as she was included in some of that week's best-selling popular music artists.
Her work has been remixed by celebrated global DJs and producers, such as Armand Van Helden, Milk & Sugar, Nick Skitz, Roger Sanchez, Junior Vasquez, Pete Tong, Bass Bumpers, DJ Gregory, Level K, XTM, Minimal Chic and Highpass amongst others.
Her albums Gia and Opa Opa have been Records of The Week on BBC Radio 1's dance shows. Despina Vandi has also won many international awards.
At the end of August (2004) Despina performed live at the Beatstock Festival in New York.
Despina's next studio album was released at the end of 2004, titled Stin Avli Tou Paradisou (In The Garden Of Paradise). It reached double platinum status in 2005, the album was repackaged as a special edition and included 5 new songs, including a duet with Giorgos Mazonakis. Katiana Balanika guest starts in one of the music videos for the album. The special edition was released in Greece, Cyprus, Russia, Ukraine, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey.
In July 2006, Despina gave a concert in the theater of Lycabettus in Athens singing many of her popular songs.
Despina Vandi released the CD single "Kalanta" (Carols) in Greece on November 22, 2006, which reached double platinum status. The videoclip of "Kalanta" was released on December 19, soon followed by the video of her next hit single, "Mehri Mai Mina" (Till The Month Of May).
Vandi performed her last show at the Rex Music Theater on February 18, 2007 and it marked an end to her singing there for the past seven years. Due to her pregnancy, Vandi did not plan any summer concerts for 2007, and on 21 August 2007, she gave birth to a healthy boy, her second child after Melina.
On October 10, 2007 (10/10) Vandi released her new single "Thelo" (I Want) simultaneously on all radio stations and TV stations across Greece at 10 AM. It marked her 10 year anniversary of collaborating with Phoebus. The song reached the top of the Nielsen's Radio Airplay chart for Greece for five consecutive weeks. The second radio single from the album and the title track "10 Hronia Mazi" (10 Years Together) was released on November 16, 2007. The song is a rock ballad about the 10 year collaboration with Phoebus and charted on the airplay charts.
The album 10 Hronia Mazi was released December 6, 2007 on three discs featuring fifteen new songs. The first disc features eight new pop and rock songs and two remixes, while the second disc features seven new Laika songs and three remixes. The third disc is a "bonus" and features some of the best songs from Vandi and Phoebus with new mixes as a thank you to their fans. The album achieved platinum certification on the first week, but it should be noted that this included preorders.
On March 6, 2008, Vandi released the third single from 10 Hronia Mazi, titled "Agapi" (Love), along with a video to promote it. The single was on the MAD TV Charts for six weeks with one week at number one. On April 24, 2008, Vandi released the fourth single from 10 Hronia Mazi titled "Fantasou Apla". The video was filmed at the same time as "Agapi".
Vandi was featured on the gold-certified album Sehnsucht by German electronica act Schiller, which was released in early 2008, providing vocals for the song "Destiny", composed by Phoebus. She performed the track with Schiller on June 17, 2008 at the MAD Video Music Awards 2008, where she won the category of "Best Female Artist" and also performed "I Gi Ki I Selini". Her live appearance in the MAD Video Music Awards 2008 was included in the live edition of Sehnsucht (Desire).
On June 24, 2008, following the MAD Awards, the album was repackaged with the title 10 Hronia Mazi: It's Destiny as one disc. The repackaged version includes the song "Destiny" by Schiller featuring Despina Vandi. The one disc repackaged version features all the songs from the original first and second disks, excluding all the remixes (with the exception of "Ta Lefta (Remix)"). Two more songs were released as singles, "I Gi Ki I Selini" and "Tha Thela"; the music video for "I Gi Ki Selini" was her performance at the MAD Awards, while the video for "Tha Thela" was the live performance of the song at the Love Radio party which took place on May 12, 2008.
Near the end of 2008, Vandi began touring out of Greece for the album. On October 10, 11 and 12 she performed three sold out concerts in Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide and then from May 15-24, 2009, she sang a five venue tour of the United States and Canada.
In June 2009, she released a new song, Iparhi Zoi, which she performed at the MAD Video Music Awards.