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.
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
example of the raw energy Lina exhibits in performance
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.
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."
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.
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
that a 20," she adds with hearty laughter. "I've been
eating like crazy . . . I can't help it . . . it's who I am."
admits she was tempted to be swayed by the common misconception that
a successful career
swear, I was timing that to the minute, man," she explains with laughter.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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."
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
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.
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."
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.
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.'"
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.
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.
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."
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.
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 . . . ."
by Jim Jarrell
find out more information about
to buy her CD check out:
Koutrakos - Official Web Site