Filler
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PHOTO CREDIT: Above photo by John Rickman Photography, San Jose, California.

Φεριχά, Κοντά στο Νείλο
(Feriha, Konda Sto Neelo)

(Feriha, Near the Nile)

 

 

This page contains a translation into English of the lyrics to the popular Greek song "Feriha, Konda Sto Neelo" (Φεριχά, Κοντά στο Νείλο), which was sung by Sophia Vembo. Also included is a pronunciation guide for the Greek lyrics so you can sing along if you like.

For more information about the laiko and rebetiko styles of music, see Introduction to Laiko / Rebetiko Music elsewhere on this web site.

Song lyrics are provided for educational purposes. If you like the song, please purchase either the album or a download from an authorized source.

About this Song

The song is known both as simply "Feriha", and also as "Konda Sto Neelo". Although Sofia Vembo was the original artist, I prefer the version by Babis Tsertos because it sounds more clear. It has a beautiful Old World feeling.

If I were going to incorporate this song into a belly dance performance, I would choose the version by Tsertos.

About Sofia Vembo

Sofia Vembo (real name Sofia Bebou), was a legendary singer and actress who became known by the nicknames "Singer of Victory" and "Efi". Pol Nor, whose real name was Nikos Nikolaidis, gave her the stage name of Sofia Vembo.

Vembo was born in the Anatolian region (in modern-day Turkey) of Thraki on February 10, 1910. She was one of four children. They were raised in Constantinople, but quickly quickly became refugees when the Greeks fled Turkey. The family arrived in Greece and eventually settled in Volos.

ABOUT THE PHOTO: This photo of Sofia Vembo with her beloved guitar was her very first promotional photo. It was advertising her appearance at the Kentrikon Theater, where she dressed as a Romani girl and debuted the song "Tsigana Mavromata" ("Black-Eyed Gypsy Woman) in 1933.

Sofia Vembo

Vembo went on to perform as a singer and actress throughout Greece. She was considered the voice of war music in the 1940s, and became highly respected for her monetary donations to the Hellenic Army, which is how she acquired the nickname "Singer of Victory". Her career continued through the “metapolemika” post-war music era of the 1950s.

After her academic studies, Vembo developed an interest in music and fell in love with the guitar. She was discovered by Konstantinos Tsibas (who was actually a German spy). He was one of the most famous talent agents and businessmen that promoted many famous and upcoming artists, and Vembo came to his attention when she was on a road trip en route to Thessaloniki to visit her brother.

Sofia also appeared in the famous 1955 movie Stella alongside Melina Merkouri. She opened her own theater in 1949 called ‘Theatro Vembo’ (Vembo Theater). This theater still stands to this day, and it remains very active with the arts community. Sofia Vembo was laid to rest on March 11, 1978.

ABOUT THE PHOTO: Sofia Vembo, as a young woman.

Sofia Vembo

This is a translation of an excerpt from a September 1966 interview by journalist Taso Koutsothanasi for the magazine Proto:

  • INTERVIEWER: Miss Vembo, we all know you as “The Singer of Victory”. Who gave you this characteristic title?
  • VEMBO: The victory was not mine “at the broken off legs/feet the young lad”, as Giorgos Fteris says in his poem, which is dedicated to all the men of the Albanian war. I just happened to be singing songs which happened to be about the victories and glories of Albania. That is all. The late Ahileas Mamakis believed – as everyone believed – that I had to be the singer of victory. And he baptized me. I don’t know whether I deserve it, but I am proud and happy.... I found love in my husband Mimi Traiforo. He is wonderful, golden, but shorter than me.
  • INTERVIEWER: Your countless friends are eagerly waiting to hear your voice again…will you return to the stage again?
  • VEMBO: A person always gets tired when they are working, but what I get out of this is so big. Not as money, but as applause. That is why I want to sing again with this voice that I have, at this old age that I have…

Song: Konda Sto Neelo (Near the Nile), also known as Feriha, 1939

Lyrics: Kostas Kofiniotis

Music: Mihalis Souyioul

Original Artist: Sophia Vembo

Has Also Been Recorded By:

  • Babis Tsertos, 2006, on the album To Monopati

Dance Style: Belly Dance

Τραγούδι: Κοντά στο Νείλο | Φεριχά, 1939

Στίχοι: Κώστας Κοφινιώτης

Μουσική: Μιχάλης Σουγιούλ
Πρώτη Εκτέλεση: Σοφία Βέμπο

Άλλοι Ερμηνευτές: Μπάμπης Τσέρτος

Χορός: Οριεντάλ, Χορό Της Κοιλιάς, Ανατολίτικο Χορό, Τσιφτετέλι, Τσιφτετέλια, Χανούμικο, Κελικός Χορός

 

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Lyrics

Numbers in parentheses refer to footnotes that appear at the bottom of the translation.

Greek Lyrics

Pronunciation

English Translation

Κοντά στου Νείλου τα νερά konda stou Neelou ta nerα Near the Nile waters,
την καρτερούσε με χαρά tin karterousa me hara he was waiting for her with joy
και χτυποκάρδια ke htipokardia and beating heart
να της χαϊδέψει τα μαλλιά na tis haidepsi ta malia to caress her hair,
να τη' γιομίσει με φιλιά na ti' yiomisi me filia to fill her with kisses,
με χίλια χάδια me hilia hadia with thousands of caresses.
     
Και το φεγγάρι τ' αργυρό ke to fegari t' aryiro And the silver moon (1)
τους έβλεπε μεσ' στο νερό tous evlepe mes' sto nero was watching them in the water
φιλιά ν' αλλάζουν filia n' alazoun exchanging kisses.
και με τη' βάρκα των χαδιών ke me ti' varka ton hadion And in the boat of caresses
στη' χώρα των παραμυθιών sti' hora ton paramithion in the land of fairy tales
κρυφά ν' αράζουν krifa n' arazoun secretly they lay.
     
Και όταν προς το ξημέρωμα ke otan pros to ximeroma And when dawn was drawing near,
χωρίζανε έλεγε αυτός horizane eleye aftos [and] they were separating, he said
στα μάτια που δακρύζανε sta matia pou dakrizane to the eyes that were tearing up:
     
Φεριχά, στα μετάξια θα σε ντύσω Feriha, sta metaxia tha se diso "Feriha, in silks I will dress you,
και παλάτια θα σου χτίσω ke palatial tha sou htiso and I will build you palaces
να το θέλεις μοναχά na to thelis monaha as long as you want it."
     
Φεριχά, πλούτη δόξες σου τα δίνω Feriha, plouti doxes sou ta dino "Feriha, wealth [and] glory I give to you,
μπρος τα πόδια σου τ' αφήνω bros ta podia sou ta' afino by your feet I leave it
να το θέλεις μοναχά na to thelis monaha as long as you want it."
     
Φεριχά, και στην άκρια του κόσμου Feriha, ke stin akria tou kosmou "Feriha, and until the ends of the earth
έρχομαι μαζύ σου, φως μου erhome mazi sou, fos mou I come with you, my light,
να το θέλεις μοναχά na to thelis monaha as long as you want it."
     
Φεριχά, και στην άκρια του κόσμου Feriha, ke stin akria tou kosmou "Feriha, and until the ends of the earth
έρχομαι μαζύ σου, φως μου erhome mazi sou, fos mou I come with you, my light,
να το θέλεις μοναχά na to thelis monaha as long as you want it."
     
να το θέλεις μοναχά na to thelis monaha "As long as you want it."
  1. This could mean either silver, shiny, or bright.

 

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Translations of
Sofia Vembo's Songs On This Site

Translations on this web site of songs performed by Sofia Vembo include:

 

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About the Translator

This page was contributed by Panayiota Bakis Mohieddin, who is happy to share her culture and music she grew up with! Here's how Panayiota describes her background:

I always love engaging with intelligent like-minded people, especially artists. I love sharing anything and everything about my Hellenic culture and upbringing, especially music and dance. A conversation with me will bring you back to America's favorite Greek-American movie by Nia Vardalos called My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

I love investigating Greek culture, history, music, and dance. Speaking of investigating, I think I missed my calling, I probably should have been an investigator. Instead, I use those skills to dig and dig and dig tirelessly, often times falling asleep on my laptop... just to find the truth. But, most importantly, accurate truth. For me personally, and other respectable folklorists, my culture and accuracy are very important. Each generation of ethnic born artists has a duty to do the best it can to pass down our traditions as was taught to us. We have been given this artistic gift to be the gatekeepers of our heritage and culture.

Panayiota

 

 

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