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Claimed to have been born in 1910. In fact, she was at least a decade older, and was likely born sometime between 1895 and 1897.
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Recorded in Istanbul in 1953 by Roza Eskenazi who was a famous Jewish-Greek singer of rebetiko and Greek folk music born in Constantinople, whose recording and stage career extended from the late 1920s into the 70s.


Early Career

Sarah was not to realize this dream until her return to Thessaloniki. At the time, the family was renting an apartment near the city’s Grand Hotel Theater, and several of the neighbors performed there. Every day, Sarah would help two of the dancers carry their costumes to the theater, hoping that she would one day appear on the stage alongside them. It was there that she finally began her career as a dancer.

While still a teenager, Sarah Skinazi fell in love with Yiannis Zardinidis, a wealthy man from one of Cappadocia‘s most prominent families. Zardinidis’ family disapproved of the match, considering her to be of loose moral character. Nevertheless, the two of them eloped around 1913, and Sarah changed her name to Roza, the name by which she was known throughout her career. Zardinidis died, due to unknown circumstances, around the year 1917, leaving Roza with a little child- Paraschos. Realizing that she could not maintain her career as a performer while raising an infant, she brought him to the St. Taksiarchis nursery in the city of Xanthi. His father’s family agreed to support him there, and Paraschos Zardinidis eventually grew up to be a high-ranking officer in the Greek Air Force. It was only years later that he finally reunited with his mother, after finding her in Athens in 1935.

International career

Before long, her career extended beyond the political boundaries of Greece to the Greek Diaspora. Together with Tomboulis, she traveled to Egypt, Albania, and Serbia, receiving a warm reception not only from the local Greek communities, but from the Turkish communities as well. Her music had a certain edginess to it, and one of her songs, Πρέζα όταν Πιείς (“When You Take Heroin”), was even censored by Greek dictator Ioannis Metaxas. As a result of his decisions, many other traditional Rebetiko artists were marginalized, though a new trend in the genre, led by Vassilis Tsitsanis, was gaining ground.

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