From Newcastle to Greek reality TV: Meet Maria Maroulis

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In the ring of one of Australia’s largest boxing events of the year on October 16 was an Australian of Greek and Italian heritage. 

She was patiently waiting for singing superstar Nikos Vertis to finish singing the Greek national anthem before she could front up before 14,000 people to perform ‘Advance Australia Fair.’ 

Announced to the people as ‘Marcia Marcalos,’ Maria Maroulis trades places with Vertis to deliver her acapella rendition of the Australian national anthem. 

Her performance stirred the thousands of Australians singing along in the crowd, before George Kambosos Jr stepped into the ring for his world title rematch against Devin Haney at Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena.

In an interview with The Greek Herald immediately after the fight, Maria was completely unphased by the mispronunciation of her name, seizing every opportunity to introduce herself from that point on as ‘Marcia Maracalos.’  

“You know Nikos Vertis cut my grass,” a plain-spoken Maria adds sporadically.

Equal parts intrigued and impressed I was conducting an interview where grass-cutting was a topic of discussion, I pressed for clarification. 

“I was on tour with Giannis Ploutarhos and his kids, and I had just finished singing at the Canberra show when one of the guys there said ‘next week is going to be massive, I’m flying to Melbourne for the Kambosos fight and Nikos Vertis is singing the Greek national anthem’,” Maria says, explaining she had initially been booked in to sing both the Greek and Australian national anthems.

“Look, I understand, if anyone’s going to cut your grass, you’d want it to be Nikos Vertis.

“I really got the best of both worlds though. I got to sing the Australian national anthem and have Nikos Vertis next to me – so, it’s a win-win for me.” 

Greek super star Nikos Vertis singing the Greek national anthem at the Kambosos v Haney world title rematch in Melbourne, October 16, 2022. Photo: The Greek Herald / Chris Spyrou.

Having been a touring backing vocalist for Vanessa Amarosi during her ‘Absolutely Everybody’ era and a support act for Greek artists like Nikos Oikonomopoulous, Vasilis Karras and Giorgios Mazonakis over the last 15 years, Maria is no stranger to large crowds. 

However, she says singing at the Kambosos fight “hit different.”

“It was amazing, and I felt really proud,” the Melbourne-based singer says.

“Just to be here, to support George who does so much to honour our heritage was incredible and seeing the Greeks in full force gave me goosebumps.

“Even walking in this morning and seeing the Hellas Fan Club banner up, I took a little video and captioned it ‘the calm before the storm,’ because I know us Greeks have such amazing passion and they would create that epic vibe.” 

‘The hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life’:

Alongside backing vocalist, supporting act and most recent singer of national anthems, Maria now also adds Greek reality TV star to her extensive resume. 

“I was initially booked to perform the anthems at George’s first fight in June but I was overseas filming a Greek reality TV show,” she says. 

Maria, alongside 17 others, are taking part in Greece’s first-ever season of Asia Express, a global franchise reality show adapted in over 15 countries around the world.

WATCH the trailer for the Greek adaptation of Asia Express here:

“Nine celebrities in Greece got to pick a partner they wanted to go on a race with across Cambodia, Laos and Thailand,” she explains. 

Maria was chosen by singer Christina Koletsa, most known for her 2008 pop song ‘Ekti Esthisi’, who convinced her on the pretence it would be “fun and easy.”

“It was far from easy, it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” Maria laughs. 

“They took our phones and wallets off us. We were given one euro a day to live off and we backpacked and hitchhiked in a race to get to the next destination. We were knocking on people’s doors for food and for places to sleep.

“This is the first season Greece has ever done and I was really shocked to be a part of it, especially because I was the only person not from Greece.

“It was very challenging but you know girl power, we gave it our best shot and it was the most amazing experience!”

‘Being on stage is where my heart is’:

As to her singing origins, Maria points to her childhood, telling The Greek Herald she was originally trained as a ballet dancer. 

“From ballet I ended up training in classical opera singing and I was meant to go to Italy to pursue that career but from doing cabaret and musical theatre in Sydney, I ended up meeting a Greek band,” she says.

Maria as a ballet dancer. Photo: Supplied to TGH

“They asked me if I knew any Greek songs, I said ‘no I can’t even speak Greek’ but I listened to Anna Vissi, that was my first album, and I learnt her songs.”

Speaking about her mixed heritage, Maria explains that her father was born in Kefalonia and her mother in Puglia, with the pair meeting at a Greek dance in Newcastle after arriving in Australia.

“I grew up in Newcastle and the Greek community there is very close so I did all the Greek dancing, Greek school and going to all the events as a kid. I saw the Greek bands, never thinking one day I would be up there myself.”

Maria grew up in the NSW city of Newcastle. Photo: Supplied to TGH

However, a meeting with Costa Tangalakis from Kinisi Live in Melbourne led to her working at the club for three months, which “turned into six months and here we are 15 years later.”

“I am part of the furniture at Kinisi Live and I wouldn’t have it any other way, I love it. To be able to sing every week here in Melbourne, and to sing for the Greeks here in Australia I am very lucky,” she says.

Photo: Petros Pro Photography

In May this year, Maria released her single ‘Lovers Life’ with a music video shot in the Californian desert.

“Recording is great and it’s fun to be in the studio, but being on stage is where my heart is. And when you add flowers on top of that, how could I ask for more?” she asks with a smile.

“Giving my all up to the crowd, feeling their energy and seeing them having the best time, that’s my true happiness.” 

READ MORE: Meet Tina Kokkalis: The Greek Australian singing both national anthems at Kambosos v Haney.

Photo: Petros Pro Photography

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