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Bambis Tsertos

Born on 27 October 1956 at Tropea in the Arcadia prefecture Babis Tsertos went to Athens at the age of seventeen - and has been living there ever since. Althogh he had been a singer and church cantor from early on, he was now anxious to take a University degree. He enrolled in the Physics Department of Athens University in 1974. “I was very lucky to grow up in a family where everyone sang very well”, he says. “My father played the mandolin as well. I was lucky to grow up in Tropea too: it was the big commercial and cultural centre of its area. I can still remember quite a few parties - where we could hear all kinds of Greek music”. As a student, Babis Tsertos was living at a time when rembetika was being revived. He learnt to play the bouzouki and joined the University group, singing popular, rebetika and folk songs. "My life started to be closely bound up with music; we partied almost every night in the restaurants, playing and singing. However, at that time I wasn’t thinking about being a professional performer - perhaps because I knew at second hand what the life was like, as my sister Nadia Karagianni was already a singer." When the rembetadika clubs started opening in the 1980s it was not long before Babis Tsertos found himself working in a restaurant called Oi Filoi (The pals) in the Kypseli district. Ever since that time he has been a professional performer. He has been lucky enough to work with great singers and songwriters such as Sotiria Bellou, Takis Binis, Anna Chrysafi, Kaity Grey, Kostas Kaplanis, Theodoros Polykandriotis, Koulis Skarpelis and Chondronakos, and, of the younger generation, Babis Goles, Giorgos Xydaris, and Stelios Vamvakaris. For the past few years he has been working with pop stars such as Glykeria, Manolis Mitsias, Viki Moscholiou, Lakis Halkias, Manolis Rasoulis, and Petros Vayiopoulos. In 2003 he received the Arion award for his work on rembetika and popular songs. He has collaborated with the group Estudiantina, to highlight the wealth of traditional music from Smyrni. He contributed to Estudiantina’s released album Smyrne, produced by Giorgos Dalaras, which has topped the charts and won 2004’s Arion award for folk music.

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