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Diamanda Galás

Alias:
Gender: Female
Country: United States
Description:
An American vocalist and pianist of Greek extraction (b. 1955), widely regarded as a major figure in the avant-garde of rock music. A student of performance art, jazz and classical music at the University of California, she discovered her vocal talents in 1974, while performing with her trans- vestite friends in the streets. Inititally she sang gospel music, but with time she improved her skills to include other techniques. From 1975 to 1977 she performed mainly at psychiatric institutions, as part of experimental music therapy programmes for the mentally disabled. In the late 1970s she closely collaborated with her brother Philip Dimitri GALA?S (1954-1986), a promising theatre actor and director, a tremendous influence on her work in terms of both improving her vocal skills to include a cabaret style and, indeed, intellectually. His untimely death of AIDS proved a seminal point for her artistic sensivity. Enjoying most critical recognition between 1982 and 1993, her talents were acclaimed as early as her debut album, inspi- red by Charles BAUDELAIRE’s poems and involving both the diverse use of her vocal skills and sparing yet sonorically intriguing textures of a bruitist persuasion. Her subsequent productions, documents of the first and the most accomplished stage in her career, followed a similar vein and were topped off with a resume album Plague Mass Live (1984-End Of The Epi- demic), a recording of her controversial live appearance at The Cathedral of St. John The Divine, New York City. It was then when she was inspired vocally by Meredith MONK, Yoko ONO, Maria CALLAS, Fatima MIRANDA and Cathy BERBERIAN, while literarily she made frequent references to the Old Testament, LAUTREAMONT, Pier Paolo PASOLINI and Jerzy GROTOWSKI. Her live performances were fashioned into ceremonial rites, full of shama- nic possession, demonic howls (often psychotic declamations in different languages: English, French, Italian or Greek) and dark industrial and tran- cey electronic rumblings. Lyrically, she was concerned with loneliness and alienation from society, sickness and death. She criticised society and the catholic church for their hypocrisy and false moral values. In the 1990s, increasingly drawing inspiration from rock music, blues and jazz, she made her own intriguing and idiosyncratic interpretations of various standards, although devoid of the former formidable expressivity and the electro- nics. Her concerts became more intimate affairs and resembled traditional recitals. She has also participated in projects with other artists: in the late 1970s she worked with Iannis XENAKIS and Vinko GLOBOKAR, while in the 1980s with EN, TD, Nick CAVE and David THOMAS.
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