My uncle, Triantafyllos

The “American Idol” show entered its final rounds last night, and it was considerably funny than the qualifications round. I thought that the best male performance was from Blake Lewis (he only had two wrong pitches in the whole song). Despite his very good performance, he didn’t get the props from Simon Cowell.

This reminded me of my uncle in Greece, Triantafyllos (married to my mother’s sister). He is a goat shepherd. He has always been a sensitive person, mostly shown by his animal loving (an alien concept in the mountain village we are from). And it also shows from the hobby he developed in the late ’70s: singing. He was never tutored, he is just a natural talent.

In the early ’80s there was a music TV show competition in Greece that was sweeping the ratings, just like “American Idol” does today, 25 years later. The show was called “Na i Eukairia” (”here’s the chance”). Some very popular Greek singers have been found by this show. So, my uncle Triantafyllos, decided to go for it, in 1981. He took the bus to Athens (an 8 hour drive back then), went there, and he sang a traditional clarino-music song. Unfortunately, bouzouki-music was more popular with the kind of viewers the show had, and so my uncle got the rundown from one of the judges, Rozita Sokou. Needless to say, he hated her since then.

My uncle started singing in some local village celebrations in the ’80s. He never left herding as his main profession, but 2-3 times per year he would go sing to villages close by — just for the fun of it. However, I am pretty sure that if he had had a more positive-sounding judging, he might have pursued singing professionally.

Similarly, I think that Blake Lewis is an amazing talent, and although maybe a bit raw right now, he would easier make it in the show business if Simon was not too overly negative with him. I love Simon’s honesty, but sometimes he’s just wrong. Psychology matters.

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