Tony Castellana impresses with his cover on Anna Vissi’s song “Gazi”. Exclusive interview for “Dilzas Says and Shares”
English Translation of the Greek Article
by Tina Refenes
About a year ago
I make the well-known search on You Tube for any new uploads relating to Anna (if you are asking “who is Anna” at this point, then here’s your chance to find out!).
Occasionally, various covers of Anna’s songs appear on You Tube, many of them quite amateurish and I pass them by. But on this particular day, I find something quite different, and from the first moment it piques my curiosity.
Needless to say, I watch it immediately! I find out that a cover of “Gazi” has just been uploaded and it has several special qualities. The first surprise is that the singer is not Greek but Italian and this is not “just another cover” of one of Anna’s songs, but a very beautiful production.
A high aesthetics video clip with amazing orchestration and best of all – the singer has a wonderful voice and he sings it faultlessly, in Greek!
And I am greatly moved.
And I watch it again and again without missing a second!
And the song ends on a beautiful discovery and my eyes fill with tears. I listen to it again. I watch it again. I immediately leave a comment (something that I almost never do!), and I put it on my playlist so that I can listen to it every day.
I look at the clip again and again and I try to understand by creating stories in my mind: how did this man come into contact with Anna’s music, how and why did this song touch him, what drove him to sing and perform it.
And so a man sings a woman’s song and succeeds in captivating us with his performance.
He is Tony Castellana!
Searching further, I learn that he is not a “professional” singer and that makes me even more interested in this special guy who has a wonderful voice, who makes me cry listening and watching him sing:
“once again I feel I’m not alive
once again I drown myself in alcohol…
once again the neighbours will find me with my
head in the oven with the gas turned on…”
Finally, I start setting up my site, “Dilzas Says and Shares”, in which I will share many stories and rare documents from the Greek pop music scene – and not only – that have never been published.
My first article is on Marco Bulat’s cover of Sofia Arvaniti’s song “Δως μου ενα φιλί” (“Give me a kiss”) almost a national anthem in Serbia for the past 20 years… (see here: “Δώς μου ‘ενα φιλί ή Νίστε ναπιλί;“).
Then I start thinking of what to share with my friends next, I want something unique, and my mind keeps returning to Tony Castellana. I search and I find him, discovering a wonderful man behind that wonderful voice.
Talking to him I learn:
*Tony Castellana, an Italian born in Belgium, was initiated into Greek music, and especially into Anna Vissi’s songs, – “I was in a state of shock with her voice and her songs” – by his Greek wife Mahi. He has two wonderful children (logically Anna Vissi fans!).
Tony with his wife Mahi and their two beautiful children.
* He was overwhelmed by “Gazi” from the first moment he heard it. “Even without understanding the language, Anna’s voice touched and excited me. It has something reminiscent of an Italian melody”.
* He recorded the song as a surprise for his wife Mahi, to celebrate their 15th Wedding Anniversary, with his two beautiful children taking part in the video.
* He is also preparing something else which has something to do with “Gazi” (!!)
I am really happy to say that beyond making each other’s acquaintance and having a friendly chat, he agreed to be interviewed for my newly formed site, where we will share rare stories of Greek discography (click “Follow” to receive notifications of all new articles).
My dear friends, the wonderful Tony Castellana, giving his first interview for “Dilzas Says and Shares”.
– Good afternoon Tony! First of all, I am really happy to have made your acquaintance. I contacted you after hearing your recording of Anna Vissi’s song, “Gazi”, and in so doing, I found a great guy facing me.
– Ciao Constantino! First of all I want to thank you with all my heart for the attention you have given to my portrayal of Anna Vissi’s song, “Gazi”, a great and unique lady, but above all, thank you for your kind words. Believe me, they go straight to my heart! I will reply to all your questions in a very simple and humble way.
– Tell me something about yourself and your occupation with music. What does music mean to you?
From a young age, I loved music, songs, “the stage” and the shows. Music for me is a passion, a way of expressing myself… it may be that I am not a professional but occasionally I sing at some festival, or in a competition, even in a professional studio like I did for the recording of “Gazi” but whatever I do, I do it with passion and because I really believe in what I do.
– How and when did you come into contact with Anna Vissi’s music?
– I met Mahi, my wife, in January 2000. All day she would listen to Anna’s songs, repeatedly.
I went to Greece for the first time in July of that year and that’s when I realised how famous Anna was, what kind of talent she had, and that she was the “Greek Diva”. My wife used to say that Anna was the “Greek Madonna” not only because of her shows, but also because of her voice. But finally, she is above Madonna, simply because Anna doesn’t just have a great voice, she has an amazing voice and no one else can come anywhere near it! Her voice, her songs, and her stage presence, impress me like no other.”
– What made you choose “Gazi”, a rather difficult song phonetically, which you sing superbly, giving it another dimension as this is the first time that it’s recorded by a male voice?
– As we listened to Anna’s albums in the car during that period, without conscious thought, I slowly began to sing her melodies and without knowing the words or the dramatic meaning of the lyrics, those melodies touched my soul and I could feel the essence of her pain…
And thus “Gazi” became “our song”! 18 years later, as a gift for our 15th Wedding Anniversary, I wanted to give her a tremendous surprise, (something that Mahi would never expect) and in this way to reminisce about our years together from the moment we met!
– You made a wonderful video clip, gripping I would say, with great directional perspective. And the finale of the song overwhelms one with the moving intensity of your performance. Do you want to say something about this?
– In the beginning, my aim was to sing the song at our anniversary party in company with our family and friends! In the meantime, I was asked to make an advert for a local TV channel (another story for another day), and whilst at the studio, wishing to thank me, they offered to record and make a video clip of the song, as a gift to me.
The result is what you saw on You Tube. We made it with my friends, all retired musicians, who liked the project and wanted to help, with a lot of effort and love, and also some difficulties, the main one being the problem of the Greek language.
And so “Live just for us” was created (firstly for my wife, for our children, as a memento for later years and of course, a little bit for myself, so that I could fulfill a childhood dream). I am moved and very happy with the result of this very professional project. Such a lucky opportunity came my way and I could not refuse it! And all this without expecting anything else!
– Have you released any of your own pieces, or are you planning to release something else in the near future?
– I am full of ideas and I have many projects in mind, but first and foremost, I am a father and a husband, therefore, my artistic activities become secondary.
– Was it easy or did you find it difficult to sing in Greek. I must say that your accent has nothing to be ashamed of when compared to a Greek!
– It was quite hard because my Greek is not very good but also the Greek pronunciation is very different from French or Italian.
But more important than that, how to express Anna’s emotions without fully understanding the meaning of the lyrics? It took me 3 months to prepare and learn how to sing “Gazi” and with the help of my sister-in-law teaching me the words… I can say that it “killed me”!
Watching Anna’s videos from various concerts also helped me.
With a lot of effort, and my love for a job well done, I managed to do it my way, and I can say that I am quite proud with the result. But I am also aware that it would have been better with a lot more work!
– Have you seen Anna Vissi live in any of her concerts?
– Unfortunately I never had the chance or the opportunity to see her live. I have watched all her concerts and her interviews on You Tube though! (laughs) But Mahi has seen all her concerts and super shows here in Belgium and in Germany. She met and talked with Anna and took lots of photos together.
– I am happy that Mahi had these moments with Anna. I hope that you have the opportunity to see Anna live soon… really, why don’t you come to Greece in the winter, we can go see her together live at Hotel Ermou!!
Since you live abroad, and being Italian, I want to remind you that in 2000 Anna released her first international single “Everything I am”. I believe it was quite popular in Italy that year. Do you remember it?
– Yes, of course I remember it but I was born and live in Belgium, so it’s difficult for me to say how popular it was in Italy. I do remember it here in Belgium, though!!
– If Anna were to read this interview, what would you want to say to her?
– First of all I would enfold her in my arms, congratulating her on her tremendous career from the time she was a young woman until now! I cannot think of another artist with such a successful career behind them, able to touch so many people, so many generations!… and this is so, because all of us, more or less, have experienced the emotions expressed by Anna in her songs. I would also tell her how beautiful she is (she is untouched by time) and she always has the look and the voice that emotionally move all of us!
She is truly a great lady, a diva, a remarkable performer, and no one can compare with her. We absolutely adore her! But I would also like to ask her opinion on my interpretation of her song, and her advice on how I could have been truer to her original.
And of course my biggest dream would be for me to sing with her, just once! (One can dream, yes;;). (laughs)
– I wish this for you with all my heart and I hope that this article will ignite a spark towards realising your dream!
You personally mentioned something to me about another surprise that you are preparing. Do you want to say anything about this here?
– Yes, I am working on a translation of “Gazi” in Italian. I believe that the lyrics would be very powerful and moving. Of course this is being done very respectfully. It will remain a true copy of the original, as I do not want to spoil her masterpiece! It’s not just any old song that you can translate in any which way you want!
– I thank you for confiding this to us here. I cannot wait to hear a sample as promised! Tell me, are you planning to visit Greece?
– I visit Greece almost every year for our holidays. It would be a great honour to sing in Greece… but it’s difficult to find the appropriate repertoire! But who knows sometimes??
– Tony, my friend, as Konstantinos and also as a member of Anna’s fan club, FANNAtics, one of the oldest, biggest, and most active fun clubs of any Greek artist, I thank you very much for this exclusive interview! I am waiting for your visit so that we can have the coffees and the walks we talked about!
– Ciao a tutti. Bacioni! Tony
The video clip of Tony Castellana (Tony & The Blue Shadows) “Gazi”
The Official Anna Vissi VEVO Video Clip for Gazi
(Music / Lyrics by Nikos Karvelas)
*Tonny’s Youtube Channel:
*Official Anna Vissi Fan Club (FANNATICS):
*FANNATICS YouTube Chanell :
*YouTube Channel: “Dilzas says and Shares (ex Kosdil) – Rarities from 80s and 90s
*YouTube Official Konstantinos Dilzas Channel
*Konstantinos Dilzas Facebook:
*Konstantinos Dilzas Twitter: