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Lina Koutrakos
Success In Numbers

She yearns to be the next diva. She knows it's her destiny. She can taste it. She's been trying to eat up success for years, and now she's ready to move from appetizers to entrees.

"It feels great to fill up a 400-seat venue here in New York City and know that these people are there because they like my music," blues/rock up-and-comer Lina Koutrakos explains. "The record labels may not like me because of my look, or whatever, but the people do--the real people."

An example of the raw energy Lina exhibits in performance

Nonetheless, her music seems to draw the crowds in. A colorful mix of blues and rock-n-roll, Koutrakos could be best compared to legends like Tina Turner or Janis Joplin rather than contemporary superstars like Mariah Carey or Brittany Spears. In fact, Koutrakos admits that, along with her love of gospel music (a product of her southern upbringing), Turner remains one of her biggest influences. She points out the longtime singer's raw power and her soulful will to succeed as major qualities she tries to emulate.

"I can remember watching Tina [Turner] perform on television with Ike and my father would say 'she's got to be the ugliest woman I've ever seen'," Koutrakos explains. "And I just looked at him and thought he was crazy because I watched her and saw someone who was just amazingly beautiful."

This idyllic view of Ms. Turner's 'beauty' as a performer has helped shaped Koutrakos' opinions about her own physical stature. Call her what you will: fat, full-figured, plus-sized, big girl . . . Koutrakos admits to all of them and refuses to apologize for being a size 18.

"Make that a 20," she adds with hearty laughter. "I've been eating like crazy . . . I can't help it . . . it's who I am."

Koutrakos admits she was tempted to be swayed by the common misconception that a successful career

comes with a cute size 4 figure. For years, she dieted, starving herself. Koutrakos even swears that, at one point, she was a size 8 . . . for about 10 minutes.

"I swear, I was timing that to the minute, man," she explains with laughter.

Koutrakos admits she was also influenced into her constant dieting by her ex-husband, whom she tried desperately to improve herself for. Between him and the business insiders, Koutrakos says she found herself wasting her life starving to stay thin, eating nothing but lettuce . . . until finally, she realized her epiphany: Koutrakos no longer wanted her weight to influence her desire to succeed, or vice versa.

"I was watching Oprah one day and I just sat up out of nowhere on the sofa, like in a movie," she explains. "And I told myself . . . what are you waiting for . . . it's time to stop using being fat as a crutch and just get off your ass and do it."

And that's the kind of self-assured, self-motivating, self-fulfilling personality that Koutrakos embodies. She exudes confidence in her destiny and leaves no room to doubt or question the validity of her fate. Her fiery personality has helped her gain notoriety from as far away as Paris, France--perhaps one giant leap in the direction of fame.

"I want to be famous," Lina Koutrakos admits with a sheepish grin. "I want to walk down the street everyday and have no less than two people recognize me . . . then, I'll be successful."

More importantly, however, Koutrakos emphasizes that she doesn't want to rest on her laurels, which include an award as the Best Foreign Female Performer in France, and a nod as Best Newcomer in Rock from New York City's The Village Voice. Perhaps oddly enough, given her resume of credits and awards and

the fact that she frequently headlines at New York City's hottest live music clubs, Koutrakos is hesitant to label herself successful. It's a moment of seemingly uncharacteristic modesty for the "ballsy" performer but she waves it off admitting she has loftier goals to attain before she can consider herself successful.

In conversation with her, her confidence seems to spread, and it becomes impossible to distrust her belief that she will find her "success." Her impeccable background and upbringing certainly seem to lend the credibility. Born a Navy brat, Koutrakos recalls that her ability to sing was the one way she had to connect with the new people she met on a constant rotating basis.

"These were people who were already rooted, so I was the outsider," Koutrakos explains of the new people she met everytime her family was uprooted by the Navy. "I used to sing in order to make friends."

And sing she has . . . she's been doing it for as long as she can remember. Koutrakos fondly recalls her victory in the Little Miss South Carolina pageant at age 4, in which she sang publicly for one of the first times. She adds, however, that she has known she would be a singer for her entire life. As a young girl, Koutrakos recalls telling family and friends that "I am a singer" as opposed to "I want to be a singer." Whether that self-assurance was premonition or the spirit of a past life (as she likes to think), singing has been the one career path Koutrakos was always certain of.

"My sister and I used to lay awake at night and she would tell me 'you're so lucky that you know what you want to do when you grow up'," Koutrakos recalls. "And I was like 'no I'm not, you're lucky . . . you can do anything you want . . . I just have to sing.'"

With one full length, self-produced CD, Koutrakos is well on her way to realizing her dreams. Already, she has received exuberant notices from regional newspapers all over the country. Music industry yardstick tabloid Billboard Magazine labeled Koutrakos' "Calling Baby Back" ". . . the best blues/rock east of New Orleans." Even Hollywood star Kathleen Turner, whose husband Koutrakos has performed with, praises her talents, proudly touting that "Lina has balls.  She's what a female singer should be." Koutrakos doesn't shy away from these accolades under a cloud of modesty, either . . . instead, she openly embraces them and welcomes the record labels to start realizing what (according to her) every one of her fans already know: she's worth the risk.

Perhaps a tad too bitterly, Koutrakos adds that she is growing tired of the pop music industry's insistence that you have to be 20 years old and a "whiny little waif" to be a success. Instead, she struggles to be a performer who overcomes the various injustices and prejudices of the industry to realize the fame and success she desires. She's determined to prove to young women that life and dreams don't end just because you're full-figured or unconventionally pretty. Make no mistake about it, though, Koutrakos doesn't apologize for her bitter feelings about this trend in pop culture.

"I'm just tired of people telling me how I should look," Koutrakos adds. "It shouldn't be about how you should look... it's about how you should be and feel."

And what is Lina Koutrakos? Self-defined, Koutrakos is a passionate, loving humanitarian . . . and happy. Five years after deciding that a life of a lettuce diet and constant illness was not working for her, she's happier than ever. The only thing missing is a manager to help promote her to the people outside of New York.

"I keep saying, I'm packing these clubs with people who love me," Koutrakos explains, "so why don't I have a manager? Beats the hell out of me . . . ."

Written by Jim Jarrell

To find out more information about Lina Koutrakos
or to buy her CD check out:

Lina Koutrakos - Official Web Site

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