Best criminally unknown superstar in our midst (2008)

Diamanda Galás

With a fierce intellect and passion for politics that equal her prodigious talents as a composer/pianist/vocalist, you'd think Greek-American force of nature Diamanda Galás would be well-known by most music lovers here. Though she's given many a sold-out, critically acclaimed performance at local spaces including the Kitchen and the Knitting Factory, the Spiegeltent, the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, and the new Highline Ballroom, Galás lives quietly in the East Village and is almost unrecognizable offstage—this by choice. She's never had anything even approaching a popular hit, though close listeners and readers of credits know that it's her blood-curdling vocalizations giving teeth to the soundtracks of Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula (1992) and Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers (1994). But Q rating be damned: In Europe and South America, Galás is recognized as an artistic treasure and is showered with accolades, prestigious commissions, and honors; her appearances cause riotous outpourings of love (except in Turkey, where she's an official enemy of the state); and her records actually sell—and not just to lovers of the cultish and arcane. Says the gracious, warm-hearted diva about the vagaries of fame: "I love America. The freedom to be forever on vacation in one's own land is a blessing in disguise. It provides the absence—of financial gain and other pedestrian concerns—that makes the heart grow fonder."


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