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Marika Papagika (Greek: Μαρίκα Παπαγκίκα, 1 September 1890 – 2 August 1943) was a popular Greek singer in the early 20th century and one of the first Greek women singers to be heard on sound recordings.

She was born on the island of Kos near Turkey on September 1, 1890. In late 1913 or early 1914, she recorded for the Gramophone Company in Alexandria, Egypt. Only one of those recording have so far been found.

She emigrated to America through Ellis Island in 1915 with her husband, Kostas, a cymbalom player who was also her accompanist, and in December 1918, she made her first recording in the States for Victor Records. In July, 1919, she also began recording for Columbia Records. By the mid-20s, Marika and her husband Kostas opened a cafe aman on in New York on W. 34th St near 8th Ave, called Marika's, likely the first cafe aman to appear in the States. Over the next ten years, she recorded more than two hundred performances of café-aman styled songs, including kleftiko demotikο (Greek traditional songs about Klephts, heroic brigands]), rebetiko, and light classical pieces, many of them overlapping with her chief rival in Greek music sales, in the United States, Koula Antonopoulos (known on her recordings as Kyria Koula or "Madame Coula").[1] During the 20s, at her club and at recording sessions Marika was often accompanied by her husband Gus, cellist Markos Sifnios, violinists Athanasios Makedounas and the Epirot violinist Alexis Zoumbas. Marika was a noted exponent of the Smyrnaic style of the rebetiko tragoudi, including old songs about hashish, prison, and street-life. Located on the 8th Avenue, Marika's wasn't just a cafe aman, but a speak easy for Greek people as well as for other Mediterranean immigrants.[2] In May 1928 the first record documented with the word "rebetiko" printed on the label was released under her name. Marika Papagika's 'Sti Filaki Me Valane' and 'E Mavromata' were the first rebetiko songs on commercial record. Marika Papagika recorded her first commercial song, Smirneiko Minore in Victor Records.[3] Marika Papagika not only was a very successful woman, but was also the one who introduced Greek music to the Western community.[4] Her early recordings have constantly appeared on compilation and been revived by contemporary singers.

Marika died on Staten Island, New York in 1943.


When Marika Papagika moved to America with her husband, Kostas, they soon opened cafe aman on 34th St between 7th and 8th Avenues. They named it, Marika's. It was the first cafe aman appeared in U.S., and as it turned into a successful business, many other cafe aman started to emerge around Marika's. At her club, Marika Papagika and her crew performed not only Greek music, but also Turkish music. Marika's attracted Greeks as regular patrons along with Albanians, Arabs, Armenians, Bulgarians, and the occasional Turk. Marika's was a successful business until the stock market crashed, and the business eventually died in 1930. Her recording career ended not soon after she lost her cafe aman.[5]


Marika Papagika is best known for her powerful yet emotional, moving, refined voice.


Marika Papagika Vol. 1: Recordings 1918 - 1929 (2008)

Marika Papagika Vol. 2: Recordings 1923 - 1929 (2008)

Marika Papagika Vol. 3: Recordings 1919 - 1929 (2008)

Further the Flame the Worse It Burns Me (2010)




O Marcos Botsaris

Olympos Ke Kisavos

Manaki Mout

Stis Arkadias ton Platano

Kremetai I Kapota

Stis Mantzouras ton Antho

Sta Vervena Sta Giannena

To len i kouki sta vouna (The Cuckoos Sing it on the Mountains)

Bournovalio manes (varitera ap' ta sidera) (Bournovalio manes -Heavier That Iron)

Kremete i kapota (The Shephard's Coat is Hanging)

Ntavelis (Davelis)

Gel Gel (Come Come)

Katsantonis (Katsantonis)

Mavrideroula (Black-Skinned Girl)

Tourka derni ti sklava tis (Turkish Lady Beats Her Slave)

Daskala (Teacher)

Sta Salona (In Salona)

Stis Arkadias ton platano (Under the Arcadian Plane)

Kinisa o mavros (I Departed the Poor One)

Apano se trikorfo vouno (On a Three Peak's Mountain)

Ti se meli esenane (What Do You Care About)

To vlepis kino to vouno (Do You See That Mountain)

Kenouria logia mou pane (New Words They Said to Me)

Mes tin Agia Paraskevi (In Saint Paraskevi)

Lemonaki (Little Lemon)

O horos tou Zalongou (Dance of Zalogo)

Mes tou Sigrou ti filaki (In Sygros' Prison)

Mes tou Sigrou ti filaki (In Sygros' Prison)

Aidinikos horos (Aidinikos Dance)

Ah, giatre mou (Oh, My Doctor!)

Galata manes (Galata Manes)

Elenaki (Elenaki)

I mavromata (Black-Eyed Girl)

Pismatariko (Little Obstinate Girl)

Tha spaso koupes (I'll Smash Cups)

Katinaki mou (My Little Katina)

Kira Doudou (Mrs. Doudou)

Manaki mou (My Baby)

Mantalena (Mantalena)

Sti filaki me valane (The Put Me in the Prison)

Dourou Dourou (Dourou Dourou)

Mytilinia (Girl of Mytilini)

Psaradhes (Fishermen)

Baghlamadhes (Baglamas)

Prosfigopoula (Little Refugee Girl)

Fonias tha gino (I'll Become a Murderer)

To koutsavaki (Bully)

Smyrneikos ballos (Ballos of Smyrna)

Related Artists

Marika collaborated with many different notable Greek musicians throughout her career. Her most constant collaborator was her husband Kostas, a noted cimbalom player who played with her frequently at their night club, as well as on many of her recordings. Cellist Markos Sifneos collaborated with Marika Papagika on at least 24 separate occasions. Aside from Kostas, he is her most frequent collaborator, and was one of the few people to play cello on Greek recordings before World War II. There are no records of him recording with anyone except the Papagikas as the cello was not an acceptable instrument for Greek music at the time. Noted violinist Makedounas, despite having recorded many collaborations from 1916-17 with Marika’s chief rival Koula Antonopoulos, also recorded sporadically with Marika from 1918-1929. When not working with Makedounas, Marika frequently collaborated with Alexis Zoumbas between 1923 and 1928. Clarinetist Nicolas Relias also recorded numerous sessions with Marika between 1922 and 1925. [1]


After her death, Marika's music slowly faded into obscurity, and was all but forgotten in the Greek musical community. In the 1980s, a compilation Greek-Oriental Rebetica: Songs And Dances In The Asia Minor Style. The Golden Years: 1911-1937 was released by Dr. Martin Schwartz that featured two tracks by Marika, and revived interest in her. Since then, a large number of compilations featuring Marika have been released. These include Greek Songs From The USA 1918-1929 released by Hellenic Records in Greece, The Legendary Performers Of The Genuine Greek Rebetiko, and a 19 track compilation released in 1994 simply titled Marika Papagika. [1] In 1995, Marika was the subject of an episode of NPR’s All Things Considered where again her music was introduced to a much larger audience the world over. [6]

She is also now the dedicated subject of Ethnomusicologist Ian Nagoski who has recently compiled The Black Mirror, a digital compilation of classic songs that features Papagika released in 2007.

In 2010 Nagoski released a compilation album of Papagika with well researched liner notes in LP Format entitled The Further the Flame, the Worse it Burns Me: Marika Papagika 1918-1929. [5]


^ Frangos, Steve. Marika Papagika and the Transformation of Modern Greek Music
^ Nagoski, Ian. The Further The Flame, The Worse It Burns Me: Greek Folk Music in New York City, 1919-28
^ Frangos, Steve.
^ Vernon, Paul. Seeking Marika
^ Frangos, Steve.

Frangos, Steve. Marika Papagika and the Transformation of Modern Greek Music(1994). see http://thesis.haverford.edu/dspace/bitstream/handle/10066/5633/Frangos_20_1.pdf?sequence=1
Vernon, Paul. Seeking Marika(2008). see http://www.frootsmag.com/content/features/marika-papagika/
Nagosaki, Ian. The Further The Flame, The Worse It Burns Me: Greek Folk Music in New York City, 1919-28
All Things Considered. Washington, D.C.: Feb 3, 1995. pg. 1 https://library.med.nyu.edu/cgi- bin/ezproxy.pl?url=http://proquest.umi.com/pqdweb?did=371310211&Fmt=3&clientId =83650&RQT=309&VName=PQD
^ "Rinio Kyriazi", Brave Festival, 2008. Retrieved 14 May 2011.

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