A Greek Summer Hit Fills A Generation With Hope Marina Satti's song "Mantissa" ("Seer") has resonated with a generation of young Greeks trying to stay optimistic after the country's debt crisis and austerity.

A Greek Summer Hit Fills A Generation With Hope

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Singer Marina Satti was largely unknown in Greece until last year. She's now got the country's hit song of the summer.


MARINA SATTI: (Singing in Greek).

CORNISH: It's called "Mantissa," which means seer or prophet in Greek. It's a love song with a girl power chorus and the wail of a Balkan bagpipe. And as Joanna Kakissis tells us from Athens, it's become an anthem for young Greeks searching for hope in their economically ravaged country.


SATTI: (Singing in Greek).

JOANNA KAKISSIS, BYLINE: The singer Marina Satti says she had to figure herself out early in life. Her father, a doctor, is from Sudan, so she grew up biracial in a largely homogenous Greece.

SATTI: I was afraid that I would stick out because I'm a little darker in the skin. And you know, sometimes I remember myself being shy. And I didn't want my dad, for example, to come up and pick me up from the school.

KAKISSIS: But as she grew up, she came to see her heritage as a kind of treasure to explore, which she did while studying at the Berklee School of Music (ph) in Boston.

SATTI: I started discovering folk music and Greek music and Arabic music while I was in the States.

KAKISSIS: She incorporated that music into jazz compositions, jamming with friends.


SATTI: (Vocalizing).

KAKISSIS: One night last year after dinner at her apartment, they recorded a cover of a Greek folk song and uploaded it onto YouTube. It went viral.


SATTI: (Singing in Greek).

KAKISSIS: So this summer, Satti offered an original song. She wrote the music, and a friend wrote the lyrics. She called the song "Mantissa".


SATTI: (Singing in Greek).

You know, the whole song is about a fortune teller basically. To me, yeah, it is a love song, but I like the fact that it doesn't focus on the human pain. It's not so - (speaking Greek).

KAKISSIS: "This song is not about being self-absorbed or self-pitying," she says, switching to Greek.


SATTI: (Singing in Greek).

KAKISSIS: The chorus is about taking charge, about spreading your wings and flying through winds and storms to find what you need.


SATTI: (Singing in Greek).

KAKISSIS: "Mantissa" was released along with a YouTube video featuring Satti and a posse of girlfriends in casual jeans and jumpsuits, dancing flash mob-style down Athinas, a street in central Athens.

SATTI: It's one of my favorite streets. There are people from Pakistan and Arabs who live there and work there. There's, like, a market or a bazaar.

KAKISSIS: The video received more than 5 million views on YouTube in just a week. Fans made tribute videos. A male comedian in drag even filmed the parody of it.



KAKISSIS: "Mantissa" is the song of the summer in Greece - the most downloaded, always on the radio. And it's especially resonated with the young who face a grim future as the Greek economy has yet to recover from the debt crisis and austerity.


SATTI: (Singing in Greek).

KAKISSIS: I met a lot of these young Greeks at a concert Marina Satti held at a park in Athens.

MELINA CHRONOPOULOU: There are so many miserable people my age, and that's so bad.

KAKISSIS: That's Melina Chronopoulou, a 21-year-old university student.

CHRONOPOULOU: Greek songs usually talk about being hurt and being, like, in love but in a really negative way and suffering. And there is no hope anywhere.

KAKISSIS: "Mantissa", she says, is full of hope. And tonight that's what this crowd is craving. Joanna Kakissis, NPR News, Athens.


SATTI: (Speaking Greek).

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