Helena Paparizou: Singer making Greek history at Eurovision

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On this day in 2005, singer, songwriting and television personality, Helena Paparizou, won the Eurovision Song Contest in Kyiv, Ukraine. Her win was the first Greek win in Eurovision’s history, scoring 230 points and the maximum 12 points from ten nations. Her performance was also responsible for the highest viewing ratings in Greek television history.

Early life

Paparizou was born in Sweden to Greek parents in 1982. Her parents are from western Thessaly and she has two siblings, a sister and a brother.

In 1985, the family moved back to Greece to live in Volos as she had asthma and struggled to cope with the Scandinavian climate. They then moved back to Sweden two years later. Paparizou attended a Greek-language school in Sweden and also studied theatre, acting, television and directing at the Art Performing School.

Her interest in music started early. By age 11 she was performing to crowds and by age 14, she had formed her first singing group, a hip-hop group called Soul Funkomatic.

In 1998, 13 of Paparizou’s close friends died in the Gothenburg nightclub fire, a party which she wanted to attend but her mother did not allow her to. In this fire, 63 people were killed and over 200 injured.

Career and work

In 1999, Paparizou joined with fellow Greek-Swede Nikos Panagiotidis to create a Greek dance-pop duo called Antique and signed with Bonnier Music. Their debut single, a cover of Notis Sfakianakis’ “Opa-Opa,” was a breakout hit, entering the Top Ten across Sweden and Norway and becoming the first Greek record to climb into the Top Five in Sweden. Their next hits “Dinata Dinata,” “Follow Me” and “Moro Mou” were also successful in Sweden.

In 2001, the duo represented Greece at the Eurovision Song Contest with the song “(I Would) Die for You,” capturing third place behind Estonia and host nation Denmark.

Paparizou went solo in 2003 and was signed by Sony Music with the release of her first single “Anapandites Kliseis” that same year. In 2004, she moved back to Greece and released her debut album “Protereotita” and by 2005 the album went double platinum, after being reissued as “Protereotita: Euro Edition” following her post-Eurovision popularity. She has released a number of albums since and toured internationally.

In 2010, Forbes listed Paparizou as the 21st most powerful and influential celebrity in Greece.

In 2013, she was signed by Capitol Music, an American frontline umbrella label distributed by Universal Music Group, until 2017. In Greece, she has been represented by Minos EMI record label since 2013.

Since 2016, Paparizou has been a judge on The Voice of Greece.

Philanthropy and personal life

In November 2021, Paparizou became the first ever UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for Greece.

“It is a great honour for me and I feel a huge responsibility to become the first Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF Greece. We must put our children and youth first, where they deserve to be,” Paparizou said on Twitter after the announcement.

Paparizou was in a 12-year relationship with her manager Toni Mavridis from 17-years-old. In 2015, she secretly married civil engineer Andreas Kapsalis in Athens.

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