O DEATH: Diamanda Galas


WRITTEN BY: NATASHA SPIZELLI
EDITED BY: JADE GOMEZ

20 something years ago at five years old I was the sole inheritor of an estate including a Zenith surround sound stereo, a couch, dream catcher, leather jacket and a large brown box. This zenith attributes to my deep severe love of LOUD music and being a musician. Unfortunately, this amazing stereo and gift of music was because my mothers best friend from childhood passed away due to a short, fast, eating death of AIDS. I was told the belongings in the large brown box were filled with her last past times in life… It was filled to the brim with CD’s with this mysterious women on the front. I have no idea, I’m 5, I can’t fucking read yet. I put one of her CD’s in and asked who the hell is this? The response I got was– This is Diamanda Galas.

Diamanda Galas is the most important world renowned singer, artist, and activist of our time. Shes widely regarded for her extensive octave range, vocal layering, intricate piano playing, ability of creativity and stark intense spine chilling performances which were highlighted in her first release “The Litanies Of Satan”. A darker than dark or brighter than bright take of a section of “Les Fleurs du mal” or The Flowers Of Evil by Charles Baudelaire. It depends on who you ask. Her work is avant garde which is brought over many genres but really, it’s her own genre she created and can only perform. Her work largely incorporates her Greek heritage through native tongue and multiple languages. Diamanda rose to heightened prominence with her “Masque Of The Red Death” trilogy and the indisputable live masterpiece– which was rated one of the most important album of the 90’s by Terrorizer, “Plague The Mass”. It was her fight against the HIV/AIDS epidemic– to spread awareness, a look inside of the suffering, for the ones passing away to resist the government bullshit and expose the exploitation of individuals living with HIV/AIDS. She was the true alpha female of addressing a real world epidemic and not giving a fuck what you thought about it. The 1994 release of ” The Sporting life” with John Paul Jones sealed her mark as a rebel, a bad ass women not to fuck with, and more rock than any rock star without being a rock star. The album features no guitar but Diamanda carries more weight, depth and melody over John Paul’s signature grooves with her vocal performance then the heaviest heavy metal guitarist ever could. Her albums after were scattered and live but always took a fresh approach on classic classics in Diamanda Galas fashion, even reaching the big screen.  

All The Way

2017 has been a great year for Diamanda. She dropped two new records “All The Way” and the live album “At Saint Thomas The Apostle Harlmen” on her own label– Intravenal Sound. All The Way features haunting takes of famous songs by Frank Sinatra, Johnny Paycheck and others. What? What do you mean? Just buy the record. In addition she also announced a rare six date North America tour in support. I was able to attend one of the two sold out nights at the Vibiana, a beautiful cathedral in downtown LA. Her fans who are from every race and walk of life were more than excited for the night. They wrapped around the block before the doors opened. While everyone was walking inside the gates I could overhear conversations: “I heard she’s going to pour blood everywhere”, “A special guest is performing with her tonight” “She’s for sure performing litanies of Satan in its entirety”. I guess that is how rumors get started nowadays, ya know? but you never know what you’re gonna get with Diamanda or just what she’s going to do, which is appealing in itself.

 

When the sight of Diamanda was seen on stage, yelling and applaud started. She was in a beautiful black dress, walked straight and looked straight right at the love of her life– Her Steinway piano. When she sat down in front of the Steinway applauding completely stopped in unison and not one noise could be heard. She had complete, total, command and control of the room with her presence. So much command you know you needed to wait. It’s undescribable. You didn’t want to be inappropriate and look around, blink or even breath. You knew you just needed to wait. Her first song “Fernand” was explosive. You could feel the depth, sincerity, passion and power in her voice all throughout the air in the cathedral. With every single key she hit on her piano, It had a personal message, and through her body language she had her own story to get out. You saw the meaning between the difference of a performance and a performer.  

The lights started to flicker during the second song “ShAkWoman” exactly synchronized with her melody. I remember this moment vividly because it was deep. An illusion of a journey you are about to be taken on that could be taken two ways or both…. That everyone in this audience is being moved, challenged to feel, know they are alive and not just breathing… Or this is the most badass concert I have ever seen in my life. The rest of the show stayed on just as high of an emotion envoking note with her voice getting stronger by each song. Inbetween she stopped to thank her mother, voice teacher, and soundman while nonchalantly fumbling through her sheet music.

Diamanda brought her voice to her signature highest octave and the lowest, best falsettos, no effort, and in sheer utter opera perfection. I say perfection because she did FOUR encores. After the third, the cathedral began to shake from the stomping of fans on the floor along with energy of the screams. She came out for a final encore performance of “Let My People Go” which was met with bursts of excitement. Diamanda stood at the side of the stage to say goodnight to a standing ovation and roses. An ovation that lasted long after she disappeared to the stage left abyss.

We were able to ask Diamanda two questions we wanted to know.

What was your wardrobe inspired by?
It was created by Chantal Nightingale Thomas. Her website is:HERE
“What do you think of the world today in one sentence?”
Too much to render in one sentence.

She left the crowd wanting more and with a reminder that a performance like hers is few and far between. Timeless and one of a kind. Her voice provides you with the definition of quintessential. Giving further notion to the sayings–it’s not what you say but how you say it. Stand up for what you believe, be strong, don’t take shit, and make sure it’s from the heart. It was spiritual, it was out of this world. It was well.. All the way.

NEWS, PURCHASE ALBUMS/MERCH, TOUR, INFO ON DIAMANDA CAN BE FOUND AT DIAMANDAGALAS.COM

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