Diamanda Galas was born on Aug 29, 1955, in San Diego, US. She is an avant-garde performance artist, vocalist, and composer.
Hailed as one of the most important singers of our time, Diamanda Galas has earned international acclaim for her highly original and politically charged performance works, as well as her memorable rendition of jazz and blues. A resident of New York City since 1989, she was born to Anatolian and Greek parents, who always encouraged her gift for piano. From early on she studied both classical and jazz, accompanying her father’s gospel choir before joining his New Orleans-style band, and performing as a piano soloist with the San Diego Symphony at 14.
In the 70s, Galas played piano in the improvisational scene around San Diego and Los Angeles with musicians such as Bobby Bradford, Mark Dresser, Roberto Miranda, Butch Morris, and David Murray. She made her performance debut at the Festival d’Avignon in 1979, where she sang the lead role in Vinko Globokar’s opera, Un jour comme un autre, based upon the Amnesty International documentation of the arrest and torture of a Turkish woman for alleged treason. While in France, she also performed Iannis Xenakis’ work with l’Ensemble Intercontemporain and Musique Vivante.
Galas first rose to international prominence with her quadrophonic performances of Wild Women with Steak Knives (1980) and the album The Litanies of Satan (1982). Later she created the controversial Plague Mass, a requiem for those dead and dying of AIDS, which she performed at Saint John the Divine Cathedral in New York City and released as a double CD in 1991. In 1994, Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones and Diamanda Galas sought each other out for a collaboration that resulted in the visionary rock album, The Sporting Life.
Over the past two decades, Galas’s wide range of musical and theatrical works have included The Singer (1992), a compilation of blues and gospel standards; Vena Cana (1993), exploring AIDS dementia and clinical depression; Schrei 27 (1996), a radical solo piece for voice and ring modulators about torture in isolation; Malediction and Prayer (1998), a setting of jazz and blues as well as love and death poems by Charles Baudelaire, Pier Paolo Pasolini and Salvadoran guerrilla fighter and poet Miguel Huezo Mixco, occasionally fused with the virtuosic singing of the Amanes (improvised lamentation from Asia Minor); La Serpanta Canta (2004), a greatest-hits collection from Hank Williams to Ornette Coleman; and Defixiones, Will and Testament (2004), a 80-minute memorial tribute to the Armenian, Greek and Assyrian victims of the Turkish genocides from 1914-1923.
“I’m not Goth, I am Greek. Goth means German.
Being Greek is not a simple geographical fact, it is a spiritual fact.”
Galas has contributed her voice and music to Francis Ford Coppola’s film, Dracula, Oliver Stones’ Natural BornKillers, Spanish/Nicaraguan filmmaker Mercedes Moncada Rodriguez’s El Immortal (The Immortal), as well as films by Wes Craven, Clive Barker, Derek Jarman, Hideo Nakata, and many others.
In 2005, Galas was awarded Italy’s first Demetrio Stratos International Career Award. Her CD, Guilty Guilty Guilty, a compilation of tragic and homicidal love songs, was released by Caroline in the U.S. and MUTE UK worldwide on April 1, 2008; You’re My Thrill, was released in 2009.