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Kalomoira (Greek: Καλομοίρα; born Maria Kalomira Sarantis, January 31, 1985, West Hempstead, New York, United States), is a Greek-American singer who has achieved recognition in Greece and Cyprus following her participation and win on the Greek talent show Fame Story. Following Fame Story, she continued with a music career and has released four studio albums, represented Greece in the Eurovision Song Contest 2008, and hosted various television shows.
Kalomoira, was form Maria Kalomoira Sarantis on January 31, 1985 in West Hempstead, New York, United States. Known as Carol in America, her parents are Greek restaurant owners Nikolaos (Nick) and Eleni (Helen) Sarantis. She has one sister named Georgia.
Since childhood, Kalomoira's dream was to become a pop star. She took part in many extracurricular activities at school including drama productions and musicals. Her favorite instrument was the viola, which she studied for nine years and played in the school orchestra. She was also Miss West Hempstead (Homecoming Queen) at her high school in 2003 and class president for two consecutive years.
On a tip from her cousin Eleni, she entered and won second place at a music contest organized by WBLI Radio. Following her appearance, she opened up several live shows with famous American artists, such as Jessica Simpson, LL Cool J, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Michelle Branch and Nick Lachey.
Kalomoira entered the New York City auditions for Antenna's reality singing competition Fame Story 2, which was a licensed variant of the Star Academy franchise. She was one of two selected from over 200 auditions in New York. Despite speaking primarily English, and not speaking Greek fluently, Kalomoira went to Greece after having completed one semester of college at Adelphi University where she was a music major with a scholarship. Kalomoira placed first and her professional singing career began.
After the New York City auditions Kalomoira went to Greece for the start of Fame Story 2. Kalomoira's first song was Katy Garbi’s “Μια φορά κι ένα καιρό” in which she swapped the lyrics “είμαι η Καίτη που αγαπούσες” (“I am Kaiti who you used to love”) with “είμαι η Καλομοίρα που αγαπούσες” (“I am Kalomoira who you used to love”). Her difficulties with Greek songs were not significant enough to hold her back.
Following the success of her first performance, she performed the popular song "Stand by Me". The following week, the challenge became bigger as she performed the Greek song “H Γκαρσόνα” ("The Waitress"), which seemed totally out of Kalomoira's vocal and style capability. She was also told to perform Aliki’s song “Γατούλα” ("Pussycat"), written by Manos Hatzidakis. The songs became more challenging for the singer as her teachers in the academy pushed her to sing Greek songs. Her next songs were “Ανάβεις φωτιές” ("You are lighting fires") and "Dancing Queen".
The judges assigned Kalomoira with Barbra Streisand’s "Woman in Love", a difficult song to sing. Kalomoira fared well, but in the week that followed, Kalomoira's rendition of Stavros Ksarhakos’ “Ένα πρωινό” ("One morning") left the judges unimpressed. Next, Kalomoira chose to perform "La Isla Bonita" by Madonna and managed to stay in the game. This was followed by a duet with another participant (Nikos Mihas) in "Gucci των Μασάι" ("Masai's Gucci"), which gave her a chance to remain in the show for another week.
Marinella’s "Γιατί Φοβάσαι" (Why are you afraid) was difficult for her, but Kalomoira made it through to the next week’s "Περιττός" which was better received. She continued in the game with a performance of Britney Spears' "Oops!... I Did It Again". After many weeks of the competition, Kalomoira was one of the final six participants of the game with only two performances left. Her rendition of "Εϊ Καζανόβα" ("Hey Cazanova") equalled her success with Madonna’s "Express Yourself" in the final show. Kalomoira won the contest, earned 200,000 Euros and a recording contract with Heaven Music.
Kalomoira performed in Thessaloniki’s FOCUS from July 8 to August 14. While entertaining audiences by night, she was recording her first album by day. Outside of Greece, Kalomoira has appeared on NBC’s "Today Show" and "Access Hollywood" during the events of the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, UPN's Greek Parade where she sang live and was interviewed, Fox News, was in the "Washington Post", "Newsday" and "New York Times" and most currently featured on Oprah for her Eurovision Performance, along with a number of other shows and websites. On September 1, 2004, Kalomoira released her 15 track first album Kalomoira which went gold. She then toured Greece accompanied by the rest of the "Fame Story" participants with appearances in Athens’s "Thalassa". In the same year, she closed her season at the REX studio with Despina Vandi and Thanos Petrelis. Kalomoira received good reviews from critics and was awarded "Woman of the Year - Best Newcomer" by Life and Style magazine. Also in 2004, she had a minor credited role in the Greek TV drama series I Lampsi, playing the part of Jennifer, where veteran director Nikos Foskolos compared her to Aliki Vougiouklaki.
In 2005, Kalomira released her second album titled Paizeis? (You Playing?) with 12 songs, of which two were written and composed by her. She also agreed to appear with Elli Kokkinou, Andreas Stamos and Constantinos Christoforou at the Piraeus 130 music club. In her program, she included covers of songs such as "Scandalous," "Don't Cha" and "Don't Phunk with My Heart," in addition to songs from her first and second albums. On April 11, 2005 she was a special guest on the first live concert of the first season of Star Academy Bulgaria.
In the fall of 2006, Kalomoira became the female co-hostess on the hit Sunday night show Pio Poli Tin Kiriaki alongside with Grigoris Arnaoutoglou on Mega Channel. In December, she released her third CD I Kalomoira Paei Cinema (Kalomoira Goes to the Cinema). It features songs from classic Greek movies which Kalomoira re-vamped.
At the end of 2007, Heaven Music chose Kalomoira to be their contestant in the 2008 National Final to represent Greece in the Eurovision Song Contest 2008. Kalomoira picked an R&B style upbeat song with a Greek feel composed by Konstantinos Pantzis with lyrics by Poseidonas Giannopoulos titled "Secret Combination". The song has an "American production" feel to it. On February 27, 2008, Kalomoira won the National Final with "Secret Combination" and represented Greece in the Eurovision Song Contest 2008. To promote the song, Kalomoira had a pre-Eurovision tour and visited several Eurovision countries throughout March and April.
In the first semi-final, held on May 20, 2008, Kalomoira fared well coming in first place while at the Eurovision final, on May 24, she came in third behind Russia and Ukraine with 218 points. In an interview with Eleni Menegaki, she said that her Eurovision participation was the biggest thing that she has done in her career, and that it was also one of the most personal events in her life that will always be remembered with good memories. When asked if she expected to do so well in the competition, she stated that she had always wanted to do well, but above all she wanted the Greek people to be proud of the performance regardless of how well it did. In the same interview, host Eleni Menegaki stated that for her as well as many others, it was one of the most defining points in their view of Kalomoira's career to date. This was due to the fact that it displayed her as more of a mature professional performer, distancing her from the innocent little girl image people had associated her with after her participation in Fame Story.
Kalomoira announced on her online diary that she recorded her new album during September and October 2007 in Greece. The album, named Secret Combination the Album, was released on May 29, 2008 and contained songs in both Greek and English, including her Eurovision entry "Secret Combination". There is also a bonus rap remix of "Secret Combination" by Master Tempo. The writers are Konstantinos Pantzis, Tasos Vougiatzis and Sunny X.
Kalomoira had been in New York for months after Eurovision because of her sister's baby and did not do any promotion for the new album. Later, in an interview with Downtown Magazine, Kalomoira's father stated that she was treated "like dirt" by Heaven Music and that she may or may not continue her singing career, but that it was up to her, and she will make her decision some time in August. In response, Makis Pounentis, CEO of Heaven Music, claimed that he was surprised by Kalomoira's remarks and couldn't offer an explanation, though he did say that her contract would be honored should she choose to go back and sing again. Despite the rumors claiming that Kalomoira had quit singing, she once again returned to the music industry. After a concert upon her return to Greece, she began hosting the Greek version of the game show Big in Japan which took place in Japan and featured 12 contestants.
In 2009, Kalomoira performed at various Greek clubs in North America. Some of her concerts included New York City on April 26, Los Angeles on June 25, and Toronto on June 27. She later performed in San Francisco on November 8.
In January 2010, it was announced that Kalomoira would be featured in a series of advertisements as the main spokesperson promoting Dominos Pizza in Greece. She was also set to return to a TV hosting role, this time for Greek Idol on Alpha TV, but Anta Livitsanou later took her place.
Also in January, Kalomoira also announced via her Twitter that she was in the studio recording new music. It was rumored that the single would likely be her last collaboration with Heaven Music as she had decided not to renew her contract upon its lapse in June 2010, adding that she was considering signing instead with songwriter Phoebus' newly founded label. However in March 2010, Kalomoira renewed her contract with Heaven Music. Her next single is called "Please Don't Break My Heart" which will feature American rapper, Fatman Scoop. The video was filmed in Turkey and the song premiered on Rythmos 94.9. In mid 2010, Kalomoira was planning to release her fifth full-length studio album. Apart from her new single, she also performed in a concert at FUZZ club on May 8.
In a 2008 interview for the magazine Tahidromos, Kalomoira posed in her parents' restaurant and admitted that she became engaged to Greek-American George Bousalis and that she is planning to get married sometime in 2010. Later Kalomoira confirmed that she would get married in the United States near where she grew up on September 26, 2010. She further stated that she planned to hold a big party in Greece after the wedding for all her Greek friends who would be unable to make it to the United States. Kalomoira married George Bousalis on September 26, 2010 at Saint Paul Greek Orthodox Cathdral in Hempstead, New York.
All the albums listed underneath were released and charted in Greece and Cyprus.