Beginning life in a shepherding clan on Psiloritis, Xylouris went on to become a great musician: indeed rather more than that! He not only revived the older Cretan musical tradition, but managed to stamp his personality, his ethics and his interpretive genius on one of the most important periods in modern Greek history.
Nikos Xylouris was born in 1938 at Anogeia – the oldest child in a family with a great musical reputation.
His worth in Greek musical matters and beyond is brought out by the words of Kostas Georgousopoulos:
"When I first met Nikos Xylouris in the summer of 1970 – my life changed. An Announcing Angel, pure, innocent – from the land of myth and legend .. he passed through our dry and dusty minds, amongst our muddy thoughts – just as a breeze from Heaven might do.
Xylouris came from the festivals and feasts of the Cretan tradition – like an angel, like a messenger from another way of life. He was a lyra-player, he was a singer .. Xylouris was an all-round genuine human being. Complete in himself, straight, careful of word, happy to be in tune in all he did. You could not lie to him … with his disarming chuckle and his clear gaze he would unmask you and oblige you to admit to your falsehood. He knew how to expose hypocrisy, to reveal the solemnity of truth.
Your mother says Yes - Nikos Xylouris
As a lyra-player, you might think Xylouris had stepped right out of some Byzantine wall-painting – where the angels were playing lyra, touberleki and tampoura. As a singer, Xylouris came from deepest Byzantium .. from the night-long vigils in Constantinople, when Damascus composed and Romanos the Melodist took musical flight. Through his voice lived on the ancient musical modes, the Byzantine scales, the ways of the East.
Xylouris was a charismatic messenger who brought into our age the memories of the long continuity that is Greek music. He sang – and Sappho rejoiced, Kassiani was exultant and Kyria-Frosini gave fervent thanks."