After the Greco-Turkish war of 1919-1922, around 1 million Greek orthodox refugees fled from Turkey to Greece. Many of them passed through Lesvos, and while most travelled onwards to the mainland, many people settled on the island. Today, a lot of Lesvians are descendants of the refugees of 1922.
With the refugees came Rebetiko – briefly describe as the urban popular rebel music of the Greeks, especially the poor. As a result of the resettlement of 1.5 million people, shanty towns grew up around Athens, Piraeus and other cities. The refugees brought their music with them, historically shaping the the urban music of Greece. Rebetiko is known for the combination between traditional musical forms of the East and for its topics of hardship and the urban underworld.
Today, rebetiko is very popular in Lesvos and a lot of musicians and music lovers are dedicated to keeping the tradition alive. There are regular rebetiko events and performances, where musicians sing songs from the 20s until the 70s. While they sing of issues related to migration, poverty and oppression, they remain disconnected from the refugees in Moria and their issues. As a response to this, writers and poets from different backgrounds collaborated to write New Rebetiko songs. The result is a publication to be used by Greek musicians to build a bridge between the past and the now, the anterior and the τορα.