Roses & Sunshine

An essential for Canadians

A career marked by a hundred albums leaves a lot of memories to future generations. When we replay the ones of Nana and read her press articles, we realize that many have made their mark. Generally, one in particular stands out in each country. In Canada, "Roses & Sunshine". That evocative title, that could remind the roses of Athens and the sunshine in Greece, has become her greatest hit. Let's step back in time to understand the journey of that album.

In 1978, Cachet Records, a new Canadian record company specialized in country folk music, offers Nana to record an album. It distributes throughout North America. For Nana, the offer is interesting because for years, she has no record company in the United States. Within a few weeks, with her team, she establishes the list of songs they can adapt. The recordings take place in October and November of the same year in Paris, Brussels and London. Her producer, Andre Chapelle, ensures the production and Alain Goraguer, the musical direction. Among the 11 selected titles, are featuring rearranged traditional melodies and songs from Bob Dylan, John Denver and Neil Young. To expand her North American audiences, they choose to give a country sound to the arrangements, a style that pleases Nana.

The 33 rpm is released in the United Kingdom in February 1979 on Philips, her usual label. It is followed by her English tour. At the time of purchase, the fans are surprised by the aesthetics of the cover. Nana looks like a real cover girl: close-up with a bright smile, the eyes well made-up, a tanned complexion and spread out hair. On the back, the same photo in American shot. It is the work of the German photographer Uwe Ommer. Nana has the opportunity to perform most of these songs in her two BBC TV shows.

In Canada, the LP comes out in April and is soon available in all the record shops. Even in Quebec, where her English records are less common, several copies are ordered. From the beginning, a promotion campaign is launched by Cachet Records: distribution of posters and advertising on TV. In May, a first single is released with "Nickels & dimes" (a rhythmic country by Dolly Parton) and "Roses Love sunshine" (an adaptation of "Down in the valley" previously popularized by the group The Brown). These two titles play regularly on the radio and become commercial successes.

The East-Canadian tour is timely and Nana can present her new songs to her audiences. She gives many interviews as well for the press, the radio and the television. In Toronto, Nana cannot meet all demands because of her busy schedule. She gives her concert at night and during the day, she records a new album.

On May 24, she has an autograph session in the department store Eaton's. Nana cannot believe it. According to her, the crowd literally besieges the building by blocking the stairs and spreads to the street. But in a few hours, she succeeds to sign more than 3,000 albums.

Only three weeks after, sales reach 50,000 units, and after six weeks, 160,000. In July, a sticker is affixed to each newly pressed cover. It confirms its double platinum status and that it is her best-selling album in Canada (200,000 copies). Nana is delighted with that success and describes it as new consecration with Canadians.

In the United States, the same promotion is ensured for "Roses & Sunshine" with the poster and the TV commercial. A large format advertisement appears in the music magazine Billboard and Stereo Review dedicates a favorable full page review. The 45 rpm is released in a promotional version and with a cover. The record company based in Burbank, California, sends 5,000 sample singles to radio stations that broadcast adult contemporary music. Meanwhile, in Canada, comes out the 45 rpm "Even now", a song that becomes the favorite of many.

The Canadian double platinum record is presented to her on September 23 on the stage of the Lincoln Center in New York. This strategy aims probably to make our American neighbors aware of her popularity in our country. Her impresarios Samuel Gesser (Canada) and Harold Leventhal (United States) are pleased with the result. For years, they devote to make her break. They produce her annually on tour and ensure her presence on television: she participates in the main American talk-shows and the big channels broadcast her concerts.

The host Merv Griffin presenting the album in his talk-show and Nana surrounded by the team of Cachet Records during the presentation of the double platinum record.

The album remains 20 weeks in the charts and continues to sell well during several months. In the spring of 1980, the press mentions that in North America only, it exceeded 600,000 impressions. As half of the sales is due to Canadians, we can think about the triple platinum album that is due to her. But what happened since shortly after Cachet Records went bankrupt? We can also add the 50,000 American pressings of the album that will later be redistributed in Canada. This has never been specified, but the total includes probably both 45 rpm that sold very well and which can be estimated at 100,000 copies. So, 150,000 albums would have been sold in the United States.

With a minimum of two tours per year in Canada, Nana has no difficulty in maintaining her popularity. Also, in April 1981, Grand Records, her new label, decides to reissue 50,000 copies of the album. In that case also, there is no trace of a golden record that would be intended for her and a few months later, that company ceases operations. During her tours, the album is one of the most demanded. Moreover, three years later, in February 1984, it's the turn of Polygram to market their edition under Philips label.

And in the early 1990s, in Canada and the United States, it comes out in CD format. It finds takers among those who use to replace their favorite vinyl records and those who want to hear it again. In 2005, with the release of her English Anthology "Nana Mouskouri Collection", the album comes out in digipack format under the title of "Roses Love Sunshine" enriched with eight bonus tracks.

What else to say about this magnificent production? This is the twelfth of her 22 English albums. And it marked the North American market because it sold so well in a short time and more than the previous ones. Something similar happened ten years earlier with the third one, "Over and Over", in the United Kingdom and in several Commonwealth countries. It was of course following her first BBC TV series. When we talk about this record, it's not enough to think only about the most popular songs on the radio. There are also two titles whose versions became famous without this album. Let's think about John Denver's "Sweet surrender" that Nana already sang in her concerts in 1975. And, "Autumn leaves" (Les feuilles mortes) that she mostly performs in her medley of movie songs since the 1990s.

Since its first release in 1979, that opus survived over the years. It was released on different mediums under various labels in 20 countries. In Canada, the album quickly became an essential. In her concerts, the spectators are delighted to rehear the songs. Also, it is no surprise that they recognize "Roses Love Sunshine" from the first notes. For the hardcore fans, it's a pleasure to listen to the whole album in tranquility for rediscovering it. How could one not be moved by her sublime interpretations of "Down by the greenwood side" or "Tomorrow is a long time", two tracks that are real jewels!