American Endeavors of Biagio Antonacci
His name has been on top of Italian charts for decades. His success can be measured by millions of CDs sold throughout the years. Last year, Italian singer-songwriter Biagio Antonacci released his fifteenth CD, “Sapessi dire no,” that soared to the top of Italian music charts, namely FIMI/Gfk, and held firmly onto first place for twelve long weeks.
His work as songwriter is also well noted - he wrote the song “Vivimi” for Laura Pausini - a song which quickly became known worldwide. In 2011 he became the only Italian artist to receive permission to perform a pop concert in the capital’s most famous landmark, the Colosseum. All of this acts as a testimony to Bagio Antonacci’s fame in his motherland, and although it has been eight years since he received the prize for World's Best-Selling Italian Male Artist at the World Music Awards in Los Angeles, it is not until recently that he has begun to shift the focus of his career to the American market.
Just last month, “Sapessi dire no” has become available in the United States, not only as a digital download, but also in CD format on shelves of Barnes & Noble Bookstores and for mail order on Amazon.com. Similarly to the Italian version, the US cover is adorned with an illustration by a famous comic artist Milo Manara and contains fourteen tracks featured on the Italian version of the album, all written by Antonacci.
The album is a wonderful representation of Antonacci’s personality as well as his artistic possibilities. From classical ballads such as “Sono stato inamorato” and “Dormi nel cuore,” to powerful rock performances of “Senza un nome” and “Con infinito onore,” a new listener is presented with a window into the soul of the artist and the talent responsible for Biagio’s long and successful career. The collection also includes intimate pieces “Ti dedico tutto” and “Ciao Tristezza,” where Antonacci reveals a very personal and poetic side, performing to his own piano accompaniment.
What is a better way to celebrate 25 years of a successful musical career than with multiple surprises for his devoted fans across the Atlantic? The challenge that is upon Biagio’s shoulders is to reach the American audience and create a new, quite diverse group of fans in the US, and he has a great chance of doing that beginning with his passionate and rhythmic hit “Non vivo piu’ senza te,” which will make anyone dance and sing along, even if they don’t speak Italian!
We caught up with Biagio Antonacci to ask him a few questions about his new American endeavor.
If you were to present Biagio Antonacci to the American public that does not know him (at least not well) how would you describe him?
A regular person, a singer and songwriter, first of all. I emphasize this strongly. He sings what he writes, he’s a modern storyteller, because his music possesses a number of very specific rhythms. It has had many faces: pop, rock, acoustic, and Latin. He is also a person who loves music and likes to know that someone outside of the beautiful Italy listens to his music.
You have received the Award of World's Best-Selling Italian Male Artist at the World Music Awards in Los Angeles in 2005, this is a great achievement, however being a songwriter you certainly realize the importance of understanding the meaning of song lyrics.
Very much so… it’s essential for a songwriter...
Because you sing in Italian, do you think it will be difficult to reach the American public, which for the most part speaks only English?
Yes, I know. It 's very difficult, but I think of how many of us in Italy have always loved British and American music, and for many years we listened to it without understanding the lyrics, because we liked the musicality of the English language with the music, and Italian is a language that has wonderful musicality. I hope that Americans, while listening to my music, and to the sound of my words, will become intrigued and will take the trouble to translate the lyrics, which truly in today’s technologically advanced world, in the age of the internet, translation from one language to another is quite easy. I would like very much that they know what my lyrics mean, what I am saying. I hope that they will have this kind of patience. I hope that what will reach them first is my music and the musicality of my voice, and then they will arrive at the complete understanding of my lyrics and my message.
Have you ever visited New York? Your fans want to know when will you come to NY? Are there any concerts planned in the States?
Yes, once, but I have never performed in New York. I think I've never considered it before, having so many commitments in Italy, it never even occurred to me to perform outside of Italy, simply due to the lack of time I believe. Now I’m becoming curious of the world outside of Italy, and in fact I can tell you that we are planning a small tour in the US and Canada surely stopping in New York City, because I want the Italians who live there, the Italian-Americans and all the Italophiles to have the possibility to get to know me and my music. I receive a lot of e-mails, messages and fan letters from all over the Americas asking me when will I have a concert in their country. Tell my New York fans that I promise to have a concert there before the end of the year. I hope to meet many of my fans who live there. I really am looking forward to singing together the hits of my over twenty-year old musical career.
Since you are preparing some concerts here, are you ready to return to the club scene from the maybe more prestigious stadium venues?
Of course I am ready! I started in clubs! I started in small clubs and have arrived at the biggest stadiums. I think it’s crucial, coming to America to start in smaller venues, my career there is just starting, therefore small clubs are the right places to start from. One should always start from small things and grow, just as it has happened to my career here in Italy. I think it will be more intimate, it will allow me to once again find that intimacy with my audience that has been lost in Italy, due to the fact that I perform in large venues. I must say that I am curious of what that will feel like…
Is there a particular place in New York where you would like to perform at?
I am not familiar with New York’s club scene, but one of my dreams would be to play at the Apollo Theater. It’s a larger venue so maybe this year I would start in a small club and next year the Apollo! The Apollo is the place where the biggest music stars have performed, Americans as well as others from all over the world.
Describe your normal day for us…
I wake up early, around 7 am, because I often take my kids to school, I have two kids and I like taking them to school in the mornings. Then I usually do some sort of exercises, I jog. In the afternoon I usually try to read or I write poetry. I don’t read many books, but when I read it’s always poetry. Then of course there is some time I have to dedicate to business purposes, and when I have free time I spend it at home, attending to my garden. At times when I’m in my country home in Romagna, I ride around the property on my tractor, I have a vineyard, I make my own olive oil…. I play farmer a bit… Then in the evening I go to bed early because, I sleep four/five hours tops and I wake up early… That’s basically my typical day.
Is there something particular on the new CD released in the US that the American audience may particularly relate to or enjoy?
I think this CD presents a remarkable freshness in the music, in the melody, a freshness that is simply wonderful and strong. There is a specific piece on the CD, which is the Pizzica Salentina piece [Non vivo piu’ senza te], which had an enormous success here in Italy, staying at top of music charts for weeks in 2012. I am convinced that this song will make all Americans dance.
We all wish you great success and hope to see you in New York very soon. Thank you!
Thank you, and see you across the Atlantic soon!
Biagio is keeping his promise to his North American fans and is coming to perform in New York City this May.
Click here to buy tickets for his concert at the Highline Ballroom in NY.