Award winning soprano Helen Zerefos was born in Scone, NSW, Australia.
Helen’s parents were both from Greece and arrived in Australia separately in 1927; mother Katina Andronicos Zerefos from Avlemonas, on the Greek island of Kythera and father Paul Zerefos from Neapolis Vion, Laconia. They did not meet until 1934 – were married in 1936. Helen was born 8th November 1937.
Paul was in business and had a shop in Scone, the family then moved to Glenn Innes around 1940. He was a fruiterer and became a grower of fruit and vegetables in Glenn Innes and owned shops in Glenn Innes and Moree. He also had trucks and transported the produce to the Brisbane markets. Therefore during the Second World War he was a primary producer, an important industry – feeding the population, as most of our boys were fighting in the war. Even though he was a primary producer, he was drafted into the army.
Brother Bill was born in Glenn Innes 17 February 1941
In 1945 the family left the country and moved to Sydney.
Sister Florence was born in Sydney 26 August 1946
After school ended, Helen acquired a fashion design diploma and studied piano and singing – was blessed with a wide ranged soprano voice.
1961: Started her career at Channel 7 Sydney when she attended auditions and was chosen to be a member of the “Revue 20,” an elite, twenty strong choir of ten boys and 10 girls, who also had to dance. The Revue 20 were fashioned after the famous Ray Charles Singers and Ray Conniff Singers from the USA.
They appeared on all the top national musical TV production shows taped at ATN Channel 7 for the next three years:
“Revue 61” series,
“Revue 62” series,
Johnny O’Keefe “Sing Sing Sing” series
After three years of this magical experience, it was time to move on to foster a solo career. Worked at the ABC on the weekly TV series the “Brian Davies Show” as a member of the “Alan Dean Singers”
1964 – 1965 spent a lovely year singing on the series “Bobby Limb’s Sound of Music” on the Channel 9 network.
- 1964 Won the “Miller’s, BMC, Qantas Search for a Star Quest” – Prizes were a First Class Qantas Trip around the world, a car, singing contracts. Helen left Australia with her brother Bill in May 1965. They were four months in Europe and one month in the USA – Thanks to their parent’s support
- During her world trip in 1965 The Mayor of Neapolis Vion, Laconia, Greece, her father’s home town, invited her to give a concert there – an outstanding and memorable occasion.
In 1966/67 – Starred in musical theatre in Sydney for American, Brett Adams Productions – in the “The King and I” – then also starred with Ted Hamilton in “The Music Man” for the same company.
Then there was “Barry Crocker’s Say It With Music,” the weekly series on the Channel 10 network, which was a particularly joyous experience as the resident soprano in 1967, 1968, 1969.
There followed countless other TV appearances:
“The Rose & Crown,” “International Cabaret,” “The Don Lane Show,” “The Mike Walsh Show,” “The Midday Show” and many others.
Has appeared in over 600 television shows. It was a wonderful time when there were numerous quality TV musical shows…
Sydney had a vital Club Industry as there were 1500 registered large clubs in NSW – 1000 of these were in Sydney and most had live entertainment, so in the 1970’s, 1980’s, 1990’s there was a plethora of work, especially if one had a “television” name.
- Compered the television show, “Let’s Go Greek Endaxi” series on the Channel 10 network – 1982
- 1986 Performed in a Royal Gala Concert for Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip at the Sydney Entertainment Centre
- Starred in many other professional theatrical productions:
“Showboat,” “Aspects of Love,” “The Andrew Lloyd Webber Songbook,” “From Russia With Love,” “Roman Holiday”
- Performed in thousands of cabaret shows and concerts
- Recorded a number of CDs
- 1996 Was awarded an OAM ( Medal in the Order of Australia)
- 2000 Represented Australia in the concert that opened the Shanghai, China, Grand Opera Theatre
- 2004 Ran in the Athens Olympic Torch Relay in Sydney
- 2007 Won the Australian Entertainment “MO” Award for best Classical / Opera Performer
- 2009 Won another Australian Entertainment “MO” Award – The John Campbell Fellowship Award – for services to charities
- 2009 Gave a recital in Los Angeles attended by the Australian Consul General, His Excellency Chris De Cure and the Deputy Consul General, Mr Graeme Fay.
- 2009 Gave a very successful concert in Chapala, Mexico, hailed there as “the event of the year,” supporting a wonderful college called “Jaltepec.”
- Is a Patron of the Ageing Research Centre at NeuroScience Research Australia in Randwick (Sydney)
- 2011 Celebrated 50 years as a professional singer – with the “Helen Zerefos Tribute Concert” Sponsored by Sutherland Council at the Sutherland Entertainment Centre with the Sutherland Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Sven Libaek.
- 30th May 2012, The NSW Parliament recognised her contribution to the community, with an award which paid tribute to her “decades of excellence in Australia and internationally as a performer and her continuing devotion to charitable organisations.”
- 2014 Made a Dame of Grace in The Sovereign Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, Knights of Malta
- 2015 Made Patron of The Kytherian Association (Greek) of Australia Aged Care Trust – “ Kythcare”
- 2016 Won the Australian Entertainment 40th Annual MO Award for the “Female Vocalist of the Year”
2012 / Present:
- Co-Producer: KUBE (Kids Unifying for a Better Earth) /
SOS EARTH The Musical written by Ted Hamilton OAM
A global first: a trans-media program of Education through Entertainment for youth, utilising the current great advancements in technology.
The concept is: “To make a difference” by instilling in all youth, respect for each other and our home – Earth, in an educationally entertaining manner.
- Education through entertainment is the most successful way of engaging the younger generation = “SOS EARTH The Musical.”