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.
NPR logo

A Greek Summer Hit Fills A Generation With Hope

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/543693000/543973355" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
A Greek Summer Hit Fills A Generation With Hope

A Greek Summer Hit Fills A Generation With Hope

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/543693000/543973355" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MANTISSA")

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.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MANTISSA")

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.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "KOUPES")

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.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "KOUPES")

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".

(SOUNDBITE OF 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.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MANTISSA")

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.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MANTISSA")

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.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED COMEDIAN: (Singing in Greek).

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.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MANTISSA")

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.

(APPLAUSE)

SATTI: (Speaking Greek).

Copyright © 2017 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.