2017 Gabby Awards
Honoring the Journey
New York City June 17
The Gabby Awards, June 17, is the Greek America Foundation’s signature biennial event. This year, guests are promised to be taken on an emotional journey of the Greek experience in America from the arrival over a century ago at Ellis Island to the arrival at Carnegie Hall as one of the most important components of the great fabric of North American multiculturalism. The awards honor Greek America’s Best and Brightest as well as feature a collection of music, theatrics and vocal performances at Carnegie Hall followed by the official After Party at The Plaza Hotel featuring Greece’s acclaimed pop singer Anna Vissi and her orchestra. All proceeds from the Gabby Awards benefit academic and humanitarian programs of the Greek America Foundation, including its Project Hope for Greece campaign. For complete details, visit gabbyawards.com.
As Cool as an Iced Frappé – San Francisco Welcomes Yiannis Ploutarhos
By Athan Bezaitis
Special to the Hellenic Journal
On April 28th Yiannis Ploutarhos made his first-ever appearance in San Francisco at The Regency Ballroom. The celebrated Bay Area music hall with its neoclassic décor, 35-foot ceilings and booming acoustics was an ideal setting for a night that combined musical styles young and old, from classic Greek ballads to American pop covers to blended-language hip-hop.
However, it was neither the packed crowds flocking towards the stage, nor the two massive turn of the 20th century chandeliers that at one point were swinging from the ceiling, nor the constant flow of flowers being tossed in the air, nor the people of all ages and a surprising variety of ethnicities singing along to Ploutarhos’ every word that epitomized the thrill of the night; rather, for me it was the bouncer at stage left in the yellow security jacket who was nodding his head to the beat with a coy smile on his face and even doing a little zeibekiko-shimmy combination of his own.
Behind the scenes Dena Romios of Power Muse Productions, wearing a stern game face early in the night, orchestrated yet another event with seamless precision. At one point she made her way to the stage for a dance and well-deserved shower of carnations.
Ploutarhos in true form was as cool as a glass of iced frappé. The Greek music legend looks almost exactly the same as he did when we first met five years ago at Frisco’s in City of Industry before his first-ever Southern California show. Still in his signature all black outfit. As then his hair is coifed, thick and dark, the five o’clock shadow still providing ample shade and his voice is as strong and pure as ever.
We communicated after the show via email with Dena serving as translator.
On a tour that is passing through Calgary, Vancouver, Detroit, Chicago, Boston, New York, Baltimore, and Charlotte, he reminisced on having people from so far away from Greece who enjoy his music. “It is a wonderful feeling to be loved. To be on tour and see so many faces in the audience is rewarding. To see people dancing and smiling makes me very happy.” He also enjoyed the scenery and the culinary variety of the Bay Area. “The San Francisco Bay and its architecture are beautiful. It is enriched with many cultures as evident with all the wonderful food choices.” No word on whether he ate at Kokkari but apparently he loves California and plans to return.
People in the crowd were speaking a variety of languages. On his growing international audience he wrote, “Greek music reaches many cultures. I have fans from Armenia, Bulgaria, Israel, Russia, and Albania to name a few countries.” On the contrasting styles between his band and the KINGS, the opening act, which featured a high-energy combination of modern Greek, English-language pop, and a few Greek classics, he likes the variety. “We work together at Posidonio in Athens, and we have a single together. They are great, fun and talented. It was time to do something different, and I am glad this worked out well.” Although he doesn’t have a favorite song to perform, “It depends on my mood. I just love performing,” he wrote; he is currently in the studio working on a new album that should be released in the next year so stay tuned.
Next up for Power Muse Productions is Greece’s beloved Marinella with Remos in concert at the Orpheum in Los Angeles October 7, 2017. Save the date, more to come. Visit powermuseproductions.com.
National Hellenic Museum Gala 2017: Stories of Our Journey
An Evening of Music, Dancing, and Festivities to Benefit the National Hellenic Museum
The National Hellenic Museum (NHM) hosted its spectacular 2017 Gala on Saturday, May 13th in the Aon Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier. This year’s Gala, themed “Stories of Our Journey”, celebrated the diverse stories of the Greek American experience — the history that NHM collects, preserves, and shares every day of the year. Under a dome of twinkling lights, and surrounded by the magnificent Chicago skyline, over 650 Greek Americans gathered with their friends and family to celebrate their heritage and give to the Museum in the spirit of philanthropy.
Greek American Chicago sportscaster Lou Canellis served as Master of Ceremonies and began the evening by sharing how he had been inspired by his Greek heritage. After the invocation by His Eminence Metropolitan Iakovos and Reverend Father Chrysanthos, Governor Bruce Rauner paid tribute to the contributions of Greek Americans to culture and society. NHM Board Chairman John P. Calamos, Sr. and NHM President Dr. Laura Calamos then spoke about how the Museum inspires and educates many generations of Americans through the NHM’s exhibits, classes, and programs. This year’s event also featured both silent and live auctions to benefit the NHM and its educational mission. After dinner, Elli Kokkinou and Christos Menidiatis brought the crowd to their feet as the gala audience danced into the night Όλοι μαζί (All together).
The evening focused on heartfelt stories, with two particular Greek American journeys honored this year: the late Dr. Mary Dochios Kamberos, a Life Trustee of the National Hellenic Museum, and Mr. Konstantin Raptis, whose contribution was recently added to the Frank S. Kamberos Oral History Project at the Museum.
Dr. Dochios Kamberos’ nephew, Nick Vlachos addressed the audience and shared his aunt’s remarkable journey that took her from being the daughter of Greek immigrant homesteaders in Idaho to becoming a pioneering pediatrician who served as the chief medical officer for Cook County Juvenile Detention Services. He reiterated his aunt’s commitment to NHM as a place where stories like hers are shared with the next generation. Next, a video presentation showcased young students at the National Hellenic Museum School sharing Mr. Konstantin Raptis’ oral history, highlighting the value of lifelong learning for every generation.
NHM President Calamos asked the audience what they remembered of their grandparents, and what they wished they had asked before they were gone. “At the National Hellenic Museum, we remember – and we help others remember,” said NHM President Calamos. “Our mothers and fathers overcame so much – adversity, discrimination, poverty. They fought in difficult wars on our behalf. They showed us by example how to get involved and how give back to the community. Museums are places where memories are collected. The National Hellenic Museum is a real physical center for the collection of our histories as Greek Americans, now three, four, and five generations strong.”
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