The “voice of the Cypriot countryside”, traditional singer Kyriakou Pelagia died on Saturday at the age of 86, her relatives announced on social media.

Known as Mastorissa, as her colleagues called her for her unique interpretation of Cypriot folk songs, Pelagia had given another dimension to the genre bringing youth closer to folk music.

Government officials, political parties as well as the general public expressed their condolences to the family while praising the Cypriot singer’s voice and character.

“Kyriakou Pelagia was the voice of tradition,” the office of the president-elect Nikos Christodoulides said in a statement.

“[She] was loved by the world like few other traditional singers because of her unique voice, her special interpretation, spontaneity, simplicity and ethics, inspiring and paving the way for younger performers to become involved in traditional Cypriot singing,” the statement added.

In his own tweet, the outgoing president Nicos Anastasiades said Pelagia’s death is a “great loss for the culture of our country”.

“With her voice and the Cypriot folk song, she succeeded in teaching the Cypriot culture to our young people,” he added.

“The Cypriot tradition is poorer as of today,” the Green Party said earlier in the day.

Traditional song performer Michalis Hadjimichael also shared a small farewell poem on Facebook for his former collaborator, highlighting the great loss in the music world.

Born in Paralimni on July 8, 1936, Pelagia was the daughter of the traditional singer Damianos Kouzalis and Maria Koutsoluka who had an appreciation of traditional songs.

The singer is known for her major hits Ipa sou htenistou lion and Pertidji mou mitsostomo, the result of her collaboration with Hadjimichael in his musical group Mesogios.

Pelagia was excellent both in singing but also tsatisma and poetry. In 1987 she published the poetry collection Cypriot Verse.

Her funeral was held at the Ayios Georgios church in Paralimni, presided by Bishop Vasilios of Constantia and Famagusta after people were allowed to pay their respects earlier on Sunday afternoon.

Before the start of the funeral procession, musicians sang the traditional Cypriot song “Ta Niata”. The eulogy was delivered on behalf of the family by her granddaughter, Solia Pelagia, Deputy Minister of Culture Yiannis

Toumazis on behalf of the President of the Republic, the Mayor of Paralimni Theodoros Pyrillis and Michalis Hadjimichael on behalf of the artists’ community.

Also attending were transport minister Yiannis Karousos, Disy leader Averof Neophytou and other officials.

Referring to her grandmother, Solia Pelagia said: “You kept talking to us about your two great loves. One was the house in Varosha. You left my grandmother with the sorrow of not returning to your home. Your other great love, which you talked to us about constantly, was tradition. You loved music very much. You made us proud and with your melodious voice you left us your songs, a huge cultural heritage. You were loved by many people.”

Toumazis described the singer as “a genuine traditional performer” and “the voice of the Cypriot countryside”.

“Kyriakou Pelagia belongs to the category of people who make use of the natural gifts with which they are endowed, but also what they managed to develop during their lives for the benefit of society,” he added.

The procession from the church to the local cemetery in Paralimni was accompanied by violins and lutes. The funeral costs were borne by the municipality to honour the late singer.

She had two sons and a daughter with her husband Georgios.

LGR express their condolences to Kyriakou Pelagia’s family and friends.

Article written by Jean Christou, Gina Agapiou, Cyprus Mail, London Greek Radio