Biography of the Poet and Lyricist

Lina Nikolakopoulou 2019. Photographer: Evaggelia Thomakou

Lina Nikolakopoulou is a groundbreaking poet/lyricist with a distinct style and an impressive contribution to the repertoire of Greek song, beginning in the early 1980s.

She lives in Athens and enjoys roaming the streets of the Greek capital to garner inspiration, to watch the people and the movement of the city.

In her work, a true philanthropist shines through. Lina condenses the joys and struggles of humankind into verse and inspires people to dive deeper into the lyrical language of metaphors, deep emotions and vivid images.

Additionally, Lina Nikolakopoulou’s position as a beacon of the Greek music scene is solidified through her great musical knowledge and her work as an experienced producer.

Let’s look back at the history of her life so far*:

Childhood in Methana
Lina Nikolakopoulou is born in 1957. She spends her childhood and elementary school years until 3rd grade in Methana, the picturesque peninsula of volcanic origin in the Saronic Gulf in two-hour distance from Athens.

In the main town, Lina’s mother is a well-known elementary school teacher. The family lives together under a common roof and is completed by Lina’s sister and her grandmother.
Lina’s father serves as an officer for the Greek military and is stationed near Thessaloniki in Northern Greece.

Already as a child, Lina is animated by the folk songs (ta laika) on the radio. Most of the time she gets out and about with her bike and a transistoraki (a small radio) fixed to it. She discovers the little town, the rich nature and the beaches around Methana. The images she recalls are of boats, fishermen, swimming, pebbles, tamarisk trees, the splash of the waves and the characteristic sounds of the ships. The open horizon of the sea leaves a lasting impression on her.

Move to Athens
From 4th grade on, the family moves to Athens to the area of Neos Kosmos. Lina starts taking lessons for classical guitar.
When entering the age of 13, the teenager turns more inward and is inspired to start writing poems and small texts. One of her literature teachers sees her gift and encourages her to read poetry and to put her talent to work. Another catalyst for her early works may be the quiet Greek afternoon hours at home when her father demands adherence to the traditional schedule and to not make any noise.

Artistic Influences
Later in her adolescence, Lina moves to Agios Panteleimonas, an area which is located on Acharnon Street. In the environment of the big city, she has extensive opportunities to discover the adventures which theaters, museums and libraries have to offer. She listens to the records of the classic Greek composers – Hadjidakis, Theodorakis, Xarchakos, Savvopoulos – and she also has a fondness for the Italian song. What shapes her is a deepening connection with cinema, especially Italian neorealist films, Nouvelle Vague and Russian avant-garde.

University Years
In 1976, Lina Nikolakopoulou graduates from high school (Lykeio) and the young woman begins a new episode. She enters Panteion University to study Social and Political Sciences and she cherishes the university’s modern courses and progressive professors. Lina also takes courses in film production and theater studies.

Meeting with Stamatis Kraounakis
At Panteion, Lina Nikolakopoulou meets Stamatis Kraounakis – he is a student too and leads a chorus at the university. She gets in touch with him and Stamatis composes the first melodies to her poems. The two of them, very different in temperament, but on the same page when it comes to their artistic aspirations, join forces and begin to work as a songwriting team.
Their first song is “Na Sou Lerono To Fili” (To Soil Your Kiss). This is Lina’s first feature on a record, namely “Skouriasmena Cheilia” (Rusty Lips), released by acclaimed singer Vicky Moscholiou in 1981.

Key Persons
Dimitra Galani is also a key person for Lina. Dimitra hears the track from Vicky Moscholiou and brings Lina together with composer Giannis Spanos. The cooperation leads to the song “Den Einai H Agapi Zografia” (Love Is Not A Painting). Besides, she gives Leonard Cohen’s “Famous Blue Raincoat” to Lina for her to write Greek lyrics to the music. “Sta Kitrina Fota” (Under The Yellow Lights) are born and featured on Dimitra Galani’s album “Kala Einai Ki Etsi” in 1981.

Establishment as a Songwriter
During the 1980s, Lina Nikolakopoulou and Stamatis Kraounakis slowly rise to popularity. They create albums together with singers Christiana, Dimitra Galani, Giorgos Marinos, Manolis Mitsias and Tania Tsanaklidou (“Mama Gernao”, 1988).
In 1985 the team joins forces with dynamic vocalist Alkistis Protopsalti for the album “Kykloforo Kai Oploforo“ (I Walk Around And Carry Arms). The disc shakes ground with its unconventional and innovative lyrics, fresh interpretation and novel melodies. It becomes a smash success and establishes the fame of its creators.

Alkistis Protopsalti
With Alkistis Protopsalti follows the record “Dikaioma” (The Right, 1988) and later “Paradechtika” (I Have Accepted, 1991). “Paradechtika” stands out as an innovative collaboration with musician Goran Bregović and is full of Balkan melancholy and zest for life.
Lina Nikolakopoulou and Stamatis Kraounakis, together with actor Andreas Voutsinas and Alkistis Protopsalti, produce a number of live shows during the 1980s and 1990s which take place at the old industrial district of Gazi and garner immense audience success.
The discs “Anthropon Erga” (Works Of People, 1993), “San Ifaisteio Pou Xypna” (Like A Volcano That Awakens, 1997) and “Ydrogeies Sphaires” (Globes, 2000) – the latter two with composer Nikos Antypas – continue the line of exceptional works. “Ifaisteio” draws a huge following, so the team (Nikolakopoulou, Antypas, Protopsalti) decides to launch a new type of theatrical live performance at the Dimotiko Theatro (Municipal Theater) of Piraeus. The superb dancer and stage director Dimitris Papaioannou creates the choreography for the “Ifaisteio” shows.

Dimitra Galani
As mentioned before, a central friend and continuing supporter of Lina Nikolakopoulou is the renowned singer and composer Dimitra Galani. With her, Lina launches several albums over time, namely “Kanonika” (Normally, 1984), “Paichnidi Gia Dyo” (Game For Two, 1986), “Anasa, H Techni Tis Kardias” (Breathing, The Art Of The Heart, 1995) and “Dama Coupa” (Queen Of Hearts, 2007). More cooperations can be found in the “Discography” section. Together, they also produce the much loved “Charama” live music events from 1994-1996.

Composers Mikis Theodorakis and Manos Hadjidakis
Let us shine a light on two significant milestones: 1994’s “Politeia G”, when Lina takes the chance to write lyrics for melodies of Mikis Theodorakis. Furthermore, in 1998 with the album “Choros Me Ti Skia Mou” (Dance With My Shadow) there is a posthumous connection to Manos Hadjidakis, which gives us “H Epochi Tis Agapis” (The Season Of Love).

Eleftheria Arvanitaki
Lina’s artistic collaboration with singer Eleftheria Arvanitaki begins on the early live shows of “Leoforos” in the 1980s. Subsequently, it bears fruit with the albums “Meno Ektos” (I Still Remain An Outcast, 1991) and “Ta Kormia Kai Ta Machairia” (The Bodies And The Knives, 1994). Especially on “Meno Ektos”, Lina gets inspiration from old Armenian folk melodies brought to light by composer Ara Dinkjian. She creates lyrics for spiritual hymns of avid anticipation (“Dynata”) and for laments of love and loss (“Parapono/Xenitia”).

Haris Alexiou
With iconic singer Haris Alexiou and composer Thanos Mikroutsikos, Lina Nikolakopoulou puts out the now classic record “Krataei Chronia Afti H Kolonia” (This Perfume Lasts For Years, 1990) which contains the songs “Koita Mia Nychta” (Look, What A Night) and “Mia Pista Apo Phosphoro” (A Track Of Phosphorus). The album “Di’ Efchon” (Through The Blessings, 1992 – together with composer Nikos Antypas) with the energizing title “Synavlia” (Concert) follows. Later, they are continuing song collaborations on “Paraxeno Fos” (Strange Light, 2000).

The 2000s
In 2004, the big year of the Olympic Games in Athens sees a worldwide event coming back to its motherland. Lina Nikolakopoulou gets the big honor to write the lyrics for the official song accompanying the occasion: “Na To Fos” (Pass The Flame) which is sung by Giannis Kotsiras.
In the 2000s, Lina continues working together with the likes of Giorgos Dalaras, Marinella, Nana Mouschouri and again Manolis Mitsias. In 2008, she takes a new vocal group called “Trifono” under her wings and produces live shows and albums with them.

The 2010s
During the economically difficult years, the 2010s, the record output of the artist gets a bit quieter. But even then, an array of exquisite collaborations takes place. The album “Cheirolaves” (Handles, 2012) sees Lina Nikolakopoulou partnering with composer Daphne Alexandri and singer Argyro Kaparou to create songs which mirror the inner struggles and small pleasures of humankind: “Pes Mou”, “Samba Apo Spiti”.

Recent Live Productions
Also, Lina Nikolakopoulou, together with a network of stellar musicians, creates a variety of elaborated live shows in the course of the 2010s. Among them: Poetry/music events at the theater “Altera Pars” in Gazi/Kerameikos. Then, the “Cheirolaves” live performances in 2013 at “Chelona” (Tortoise) theater. Later, a Rebetiko tribute featuring bouzouki legend Stelios Vamvakaris at the port of Piraeus (2014) for Athens & Epidaurus Festival and a tribute to the poet Giorgos Sarantaris at Kakogiannis Foundation (2015). Following are productions such as “8 Russian Poets Sing In Greek” at Gazarte (2016). Over the years of 2017/2018 she stages an event series called “Me Ta Podia Mechri Tin Alitheia“ at “Sfigga” in Exarcheia. In 2018/2019 Lina curates young and established artists alike under the motto “Ta Pio Oraia Laika“ at the newly re-opened “Alsos Theatre”. Cherished live performances at “Parnassos Literary Society” (2019/2020) and “Theatro Technis Karolos Koun” (2021) follow.

Seminars and Radio Program
Lina doesn’t stop there. In certain intervals she heads a seminar for creative writing at “Mikro Polytechneio” and she keeps “Me Ta Podia Mechri Tin Alitheia” as a weekly radio program on the station “Deftero Programma” together with journalist Alexandra Christakaki.

Young Artists George Perris and Thodoris Voutsikakis
In the late 2010s and early 2020s, Lina Nikolakopoulou carries on to list singers Mihalis Hatzigiannis (“Erotas Agathi” 2017), Marios Frangoulis (“Galazia Limni”, 2019), Thodoris Voutsikakis (“Omorfi Zoi”, with composer Nicola Piovani, 2020) and George Perris (“Stathera Sta Oneira”, with composer Evanthia Reboutsika, 2020) as her high-class collaborators on record albums. Their distinctive voices bring out ever new shades of color in her lyrical art.

In 2021, Lina Nikolakopoulou celebrates a 40-year career in Greek song and does so by forming the “Shapes Of The Stars”, a highly appreciated music and poetry performance together with singer and actress Tania Tsanaklidou.

In this spirit, may Lina Nikolakopoulou’s songs continue to shine like the brightest stars and may we cherish the artist like a luminous full moon which lights our path with ever refreshing poetic creations of Agapi, Alitheia and Fantasia – of Love, Truth and Fantasy.

*Additional info and main sources for the biographical details
see Written Interviews.