Anna Vissi is the biggest superstar today in Greek music and Antidoto, her new album, like her previous 13, immediately topped Greek charts. Sony's world division, Globetrotter, has finally realized that audiences not neighboring the Aegean Sea could be captivated by this Hellenic diva. For years, though, her records have been available at some of the small import shops in Detroit's Greektown. Now the rest of the world can tune in.
Vissi grew up in Cyprus and entered the national conservatory at the age of six. After she won the Cypriote "Best Voice" contest at the age of 12, her family was convinced it was time to move to Athens to pursue Anna's singing career. The music on Antidoto, like on Vissi's earlier albums, was composed by her husband Nikos Karvelas, a master of adding an element of pop sensibility to Greek folk music. Couple that production hand with Vissi's stirring voice -- whether on emotional ballads such as "Erotevemnaki" or upbeat, rootsy songs like "Yalla" -- and Antidoto's potential for pleasing American listeners is all but guaranteed.
And the packaging is as dramatic as the music. The cover shows a stunning portrait of Vissi with a Medusa hairdo. Below is the word, "ANTIvOTO" -- pronounced "antidoto," it means antidote. The title is a clue that the set is an upbeat follow-up to Vissi's 1997 Trauma. My only complaint about Antidoto is that this packaging, particularly the liner notes, though spectacular in presentation, is all in Greek. Perhaps because Sony's Globetrotter is such a new division, it is beginning by simply releasing some of the best parts of its international catalog, rather than assembling a complete international, bilingual package for new fans. Still, Antidoto is one of the best Greek records of the year, and its domestic availability is great news.