The 2017 Gabby Awards at Carnegie Hall took guests on a musical journey through time and genre, celebrating and honoring— with music— those that came before us who paved the way for our own “arrival” on the world’s greatest stage.
Beginning with the emotional opening, sung by Nikos Kouroupakis and Eirini Tornesaki of the song “Xenitia,” about exile and immigration, the show opened with an emotional undertone leaving many in the theater with memories of yesteryear or the stories they heard growing up from parents and grandparents.
Throughout the night the show went on with musical memories.
The Andrews Sisters were brought to life during a set about the World War II years and Alexandra Loutsion, Margarita Bezaitis and Erini Sevasti did the sisters justice with their rendition of Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.
The three– who hadn’t met in persion prior to the weekend, actually rehearsed their parts via skype from various corners of the planet (Chicago, Crete and New York!) and came together to create harmonic magic on stage.
Upon receiving her Artistic Achievement Award, Glykeria left the audience with their jaws dropped as she sang “Patrida,” a song dedicated to Greece.
The emotional lyrics about resilience and perseverance touched the audience as did Glykeria’s spontaneous “amane” which was interrupted with applause.
το βράχο όσο κι αν χτυπούν για πάντα βράχος μένει
No matter how much you beat a rock, it will remain a rock
κι αν το αμπέλι μαραθεί κι αν η ελιά λυγίσει
And if the vineyard dries up and the olive tree breaks
μόνη θα ξαναγεννηθεί στον κόσμο να ανθίσει.
She will be reborn again and blossom in the world
Alexandra Loutsion and Nicolette Mavroleon gave a stunning operatic dedication to Maria Callas while a beautiful video chronicling the diva’s life and career played overhead.
The two then broke into a dueling divas segment, bringing Callas— who performed her final show at Carnegie Hall four decades earlier- to life.
Broadway and film were honored next with George Psomas singing “Somewhere” which was originally performed by George Chakiris throughout the 1950s and 60s when West Side Story had captivated the entire nation.
Psomas, who has his own success on Broadway, then presented an Artistic Achievement Award to Chakiris but only after guests were greeted to a video flashback to the 1962 Oscars when Chakiris won his Best Performing Actor award.
No Greek awards show and musical tribute would be complete without a flashback to the time when a happy hooker wowed international audiences.
Margarita Cox didn’t disappoint, emerging from backstage in full costume and character to sing “Never on Sunday” which was forever memorialized by Melina Mercouri.
Two finales closed the awards show— first, a dance of generations prepared, choreographed and performed by Petros Fourniotis and his group Hellenic Roots.
The performance featured generations of dancers (Demetri Tashie, Anthoula Katsimatides, Martin Dipasquale, Orestis Skountzos, Petro Fourniotis Laskar) throughout time, representing the generations of Greek Americans, with a woman included to represent the emergence of strong women on the forefront of our community.
The song, “Zeibekiko,” was an instrumental arrangement composed by Nikos Kouroupakis.
Finally, the mother of all finales for any Greek awards show brought the audience to their feet as Anna Vissi sang two of her well-known ballads, including one dedicated to the late Chris Cornell.
Music for entire show was arranged and directed by Nikos Kouroupakis and supported by Lefteris Kordis on piano throughout the night and accompanied by the following musicians:
Vasileios Kostas, Laouto
Lefteris Bournias, Clarinet
Petros Klampanis, Bass
Damianos Dudu, Violin
John Themelis, Lyra
Dan Brantigan, Trumpet
John and Alex Campos, Bouzouki
George Psarras, Accordion
Paul Psarras, Baglama
Margarita Cox, Vocals
Nikos Kouroupakis, Vocals, Artistic Director
Alexandra Loutsion, Vocals
Nicolette Mavroleon, Vocals
Ereni Sevasti, Vocals
Eirini Tornesaki, Vocals
George Psomas, Vocals