By Syune Arakelyan
Greek Armenian singer Athena Manoukian's name is already very popular in Armenia. The singer who usually shines on the European stage was born and raised in Greece, with a Greek mother and an Armenian father. The first time she visited Armenia was in 2015, and in 2020 she was selected to represent Armenia at the Eurovision Song Contest. Unfortunately, because of Covid19, the contest was postponed and Athena couldn't to perform her song “Chains on You” on that big stage.
But Athena's international success involves other outstanding performances. One of them was the X Factor UK, during which the Greek Armenian beauty impressed all four jury members with her passionate entry.
NEWS.am STYLE had had a photoshoot with Athena in 2021. And today we are presenting this singer in our column ArmenՅԱՆs/Armenians.
Athena, we have spoken a lot about your Armenian roots, but there is always something to discuss․ Like, how was your childhood? How were you raised? I mean, Armenian fathers can sometimes be very strict.
I was raised in a really beautiful environment with plenty of love. My parents always supported me, and they still do. I can't say my father was strict enough; he only had some limits for me, though that helped me become a better person.
Both Armenians and Greeks have a lot of traditions. Being raised in Greece, I'm sure you are following many of the traditions. Do you also follow Armenian ones?
One thing that impressed me in Armenia is their dedication to family and friendship. That's something that is so familiar with people in Greece. Their hospitality, their willingness always offering to help in the best way possible is something that both countries have in common.
Can you present your father's story of how he happened to settle in Greece? It's known that a lot of Armenians left their homeland because of 1915. Did the Armenian Genocide also make your ancestors leave their homes?
My father was born in Greece, my grandfather was Armenian, my father's father. All I know is that he escaped transferring some diamonds in Greece; that's why one soldier let him go. It's an amazing story worth one day to discuss.
Sometimes parents don't approve of their children's desire to become artists, singers, dancers, actors. How did your family react on your decision?
As I said before, my parents were always there for me in all the decisions I made. Specifically, my father was the one that applied for me for the first show I took part in and won my first prize at the age of 12. They never tried to take me away from my dream, as they knew I was born to be an artist and have a great future. A sure thing is that without my parents' support and love, I wouldn't be where I am now.
Your participation in the X Factor received a lot of feedback. How did it happen? And what impact did it have on your career?
I was presenting a show in Europe, when I decided to upload it to my YouTube channel. The X Factor crew watched this show, and they contacted me asking me to present it to the Wembley Arena in London where the X Factor was taking place then. It was an awesome experience, one of my big achievements. I got to perform in front of Robbie Williams, Simon Cowell, and all those amazing judges. All of them recognized my value as an artist, and we had a very interesting conversation after the show, backstage. Indeed, it had a big impact on my career on a worldwide level in Europe, UK, and America. Many doors opened, and it was definitely worth it!
Whenever you're on stage, people usually discuss your looks—how beautiful or sexy you are. Does a beautiful face always help? Sometimes people see the beauty and don't pay attention to the talent.
I believe in the “package” of an artist. Beauty is subjective. A beautiful face always helps, but it can't last without a personality, without a combination of things. People that don't pay attention to talent are not interested in true art, so they won't be ''true fans'' either.
Once in our interview you've mentioned that you have Armenian eyes. What about the Armenian and Greek parts of your character?
Haha, that's true! Almost everyone comments about my ''Armenian'' eyes. And that's one of my favorite parts of me. Regarding the Greek and Armenian parts of my character, as both are similar, I can say that I can't live without giving love to people, I'm a dynamic personality, but at the same time, I can cry seeing a homeless dog on the road. I believe in family and friendship. And I'm a crazy Greek—Armenian babies!
Athena, after 2020, people still discuss your participation in Eurovision. How do you feel about it? Do you still have the desire to represent Armenia in the contest?
Aw, of course! Armenia is always in my heart, and I'll be honored to represent this country again.
If you had another chance of representing Armenia in the contest, what kind of song would you choose this time?
You know I'm not going to give you this...yet! Haha.
Recently you have released “Gone,” where we see a little bit more lyrical Athena. Is this song about your current feelings?
This song means too much for me, it was written almost 10 years ago, and it's devoted to my beloved friend that I lost some years ago. It's also devoted to all the victims that lost their lives in a train crash that happened in Greece. So sad. This song has so many emotions, and the crying part is a real one, and only the cameraman was allowed to be in the room at the moment of shooting this particular part.
What are you working on right now?
Now I'm about to release a new song in Greek so that I can complete my album and finally release it. I'm also preparing a big performance for a festival here in Greece and also big concerts that will happen soon.
Any plans to visit Armenia in the near future?
Of course. I have it in my future plans to visit Armenia soon. I miss Armenia so much. I miss you all.
Photos: Athena Manoukian/Instagram, Arsen Sargsyan/News.am Style
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