Introducing Flight Crew’s New Contributor: Jo Ann!


I had the pleasure of discovering Jo Ann, when she answered my plea and so graciously offered her room to share at The Palms in Vegas!  We were so excited to meet each other after several long phone calls.  Unfortunately, I didn’t make it to Vegas, but she did, which she will tell us about in a future post.  🙂   Of course I am always on the hunt for new recruits, so I asked if she’d be interested, and she said yes!  She speaks, Italian and Sicilian, as well as English and hales from the Denver area.  She will be working with Daniela in sharing some of the workload on the various translations, etc.  So, Igna and Piero, you have no more secrets!  Now, if she could pick up some Abruzese, well, the guys would have no secrets at all!  🙂  Welcome aboard to the crazy Flight Crew, Jo Ann!  Without further ado, here she is!

By Giovanna

Ciao a tutti!  Since this is my first time writing for the Flight Crew, let me introduce myself.  I grew up as Giovanna Singer di Marchione in New Jersey.  I answer to Giovanna, Yochanah, or Jo Ann, depending on what country I’m in. 

Guarigione a Distanza: Long-Distance Healing

Nine or so years ago, my mother and son, watching a film clip on television, shouted across the house for me to come out of my office and hear something.  I know my mother was really affected by it, because she was joking with me in Sicilian dialect Giovanna, veni ca, e tale!”  (“Jo Ann, come here and look!”).  My mother hadn’t spoken Sicilian in 25 years, due to depressive illness and traumatic memories, and I despaired of my son ever hearing her speak it with me.  I ran into the room in time to hear one of three boys, ‘nu ragazzinu (a young guy) with eyeglasses stretching “ma na-a-a-a-a-tu sole” into an 8-beat measure.  I was dumbstruck at the smooth richness in such a young voice, in a teen my son’s age.  I also couldn’t believe the “cioccolato fondente” (molten dark chocolate) baritone coming out of the smallest one, or the powerful vibrato from the tall one. 

Up to that moment I was frustrated that Mama had abandoned her past.  This was a woman who grew up singing with Tommy DeVito and Frankie Vallie (of the 4 Seasons), whose own mother sang in the chorus at La Scala in Milano.  Her cousin, Lou Monte, sang Italian fun songs on the Ed Sullivan Show, after he re-recorded “Hello Dolly” silly-style with Louis Armstrong, where even Satchmo did a verse in Italiano.  (I can tell what generation any reader is if they used to watch the Ed Sullivan show, or remember Louis as “Satchmo”).  I don’t remember what was the TV show or clip where Mama saw and heard Il Volo.  I only know that it triggered something good in Mama’s memory.   For the last years of my mother’s life, we read Sicilian joke books, spoke and sang Sicilian and Italian, and immersed my son in the pride of where we came from.  I have Piero, Gianluca, and Ignazio to thank for that, although we’ve never met and I didn’t even know who they were yet. 

Eventually I figured it out, but it took a few years.  I was running around the world on engineering projects, and they don’t have much bel canto music in Zambia, Zimbabwe, the mining towns of Slovakia, or the mine camps of upper Saskatchewan. 

Il Volo Parte:  The Flight Takes Off

A birthday hiking trip in Toscana, Italia in late 2015 started changing things.  Stepping out of my hotel the first morning in Firenze, I noticed a poster with the name “Il Volo,” (which was probably an ad for a CD or something).  The name struck me funny, since I was standing outside the Santa Maria Novella train station, not the airport!   I took a good look, and recognized one of the young men in the photo, the one in the eyeglasses, which were no longer red.  The tallest one now had a

Chiesa Santa Croce. The Notte Magica concert was held on the piazza in front of this beautiful façade.

striking young man’s face and an earring, and lost his round cheeks.  The youngest one was starting to look like a matinee idol.  My second thought was, “They had spectacular voices even as young teens.  I wonder what they sound like now?”  My first thought was “Italian boys really grow up well, don’t they?”  The answer to what they sound like came quickly.  The guys had won San Remo earlier that year, so the radios in some of the negozi in Firenza, Pienza, Volterra, and Volpaia, played “Grande Amore,” occasionally.  That was my Benvenuti in Toscana: my Welcome to Tuscany, Il Volo style. 

Ecco Che Arrive Il Bello (Here Comes the Funny Part)

Back in Colorado the following autumn, I got irritated at a friend who kept calling me to turn on the TV and watch PBS while I was trying to take a nap after a long workout.  I finally gave in.  There were the three faces from the poster, now in tuxedoes with even more stellar voices, shaking the Piazza di Santa Croce with Maestro Placido Domingo.  That did it!  No mistaking who they were now.  This time I got irritated that I had been in that piazza six months too soon.

But I already derived great pleasure from Il Volo’s music even before I ever went to my first concert.  These three boys always seem to be associated with good things happening in my family.  I will always keep the warm memory of my son (a

Tempio Maggiore Synagogue of Florence.  Almost a next door neighbor to Santa Croce.  It’s home to some of the best cantorial in Europe.

drummer and baritone) and his sweetheart Anya (a soprano), eating dinner Italian style al fresco on my deck, announcing their engagement to me to the background music of Il Volo’s recording of “L’Amore Si Muove.” 

When I took my third or fourth trip to Italy, my first to Sicily, in 2018 I was frustrated that due to the needs of one of our group, we scheduled the trip so we reached Taormina just a few days after the Il Volo concert there was over.  It was

The Teatro Antico in Taormina with the beautiful backdrop of Mt. Aetna, which becomes the stage for Andrea Bocelli, Il Volo, and others.

obvious, though, that Il Volo’s presence in the Italian press had expanded since 2015, mostly for the better.  They were on covers and center spreads in magazines in many of the edicole (newsstands), on the coffee table magazines in my hotel, the CD displays in the music store.  Buon per loro! (Good for them!)

Next time:  Finalmente!  At long last, I attend my first Il Volo concert.  I decided my first should, of course, be in Italy, where the guys harass each other in Italian and everyone knows all the lyrics . . .







This is what happens when everyone knows all the words to every verse.




Grazie Mille, Giovanna!  What a lovely intro and such celebrities that reign in your family!  We can’t wait to hear about your first concert with the guys in Italia!  🙂

I was also able to find this video, along with many others of Lou Monte!

Along with several movie clips with the beautiful Sophia Loren!


42 thoughts on “Introducing Flight Crew’s New Contributor: Jo Ann!”

  1. Hi Jo Ann, welcome!
    I really enjoyed your post and immediately checked out the video of Lou Monte. I remember him and the song Lazy Mary, although I never knew what the name of the song was before, because I have only heard it sung in Italian.
    A few days ago we saw a video of Ignazio singing that song to his dog Arturo.
    I look forward to hearing more from you in the future.

  2. I envy you JoAnn in that you are of Italian heritage and will know the language when “my guys” are saying ro talking. I call them “my guys” because a long time ago a song came out and was popular on the charts for a while and it was called “somethin about my guy” and I do think of Gianluca, Pierio, Ignazio all mine…lol… possessive aren’t I… LOL! Welcome to this site, this was the first site I found after by chance my friend and her Mom was talking of her late father and how much he enjoyed the song “Mondo”, so then I went on the net and found them. I truly love them as I do my children/grandchildren. I am 83 years old and for the first time in my life I went to a concert… in Mesa, AZ and saw “my guys” in person. It was a thrill and I cannot describe my love for them. My Guys are young and full of life and play pranks on one another, so what is nto to enjoy? I welcome you and look forward to your posts and thoughts on IL Volo. Daniela does a great job also. It would be a pleasure to meet the people who promote “my guys”! Notice how possessive I am of them… lol! I am a fan for life for “my guys” and hope I am able to see them again in person. Iwas tongue tied at the Mesa concert and said the first thing that came into my brain… fluff if you know what I mean. I told each of them that I loved them and I truly mean that and to thank their parents for their upbringing and manners. I’m saying this and not sure of the meaning “CIAO” does that mean hello or goodbye? Welcome aboard. I’m Sassylady 1937 and I hope we have lots of conversations and fun.

    1. It’s a pleasure to meet you. Ciao means both hello and goodbye, just like Aloha. Most Italians say it twice for goodbye “Ciao Ciao”.

  3. Hi Jo Ann, or rather Giovanna, benvenuta, I am very happy to have you on this site and to hear and read your stories.
    But were you born in Italy or is it your family that has Italian origins, and I think I understand, Sicilian origins, where exactly?
    My husband is Sicilian, from Palermo.
    I miss the first years of Il Volo, I started following them after Sanremo, but in Piazza Santa Croce on the first magical night, I was there, it was amazing.
    It will be a nice collaboration between us, with Jana and Pat.
    In bocca al lupo!! 🙂

    1. My family are from Palermo and Corleone. I was born in New Jersey (Nuova Jersey). Grazie mille.

  4. I live in SAN DIEGO CALIFORNIA and looking forward to the next concert here. I have an extra bedroom if someone needs it to attend the concert. (Gianluca, Ignazio and Piero included❤️🥰😘😇!) Just is beautiful dream for an old lady!❤️ God bless you all in this country and everywhere! Your beautiful music gets me through very dark moments and I am truly thankful for finding you and being able to see you for the first time on March 3rd ! Hopefully I will have a closer seat next time! God bless you all who are fans and prayers are with you all!

  5. what a beautiful story Giovanna! Benvenuta, è un piacere conscerti ♥ I hope to read more stories from you soon, a big kiss from Italy (Abruzzo, very close to Gianluca hometown)

  6. Welcome to the site Enjoyed your article today and looking forward to future ones Love the guys and listen to them everyday appreciate so much the translations as I don’t speak or understand Italian

    1. I’ve appreciated Daniela’s hard work all along. I just hope to pitch in or add something.

  7. Welcome Giovanna-Jo Ann to your new, important role inf assisting Daniela translating all news IL VOLO. Grazie.

    I am a “Baby Boomer” from New York; I grew up in Queens, however my Father was born in Southern Italy–Cosenza, Calabria, and my Mother was born in Messina, Sicily, So I listened to their dialects, and also to “true” Italian in our home. They are now gone and I miss them so much.

    I have been to Italy seven times–my first trip at age 17 and subsequent trips with my now-deceased husband. My family treated us so well, and
    the dinner table always had 20 or more seats around it, with 5-6 course meals of homemade food. Each time we left them to return to America there were tears spilling down to the airport floor. Saying goodbye to my beautiful, generous family was very difficult.

    Getting to IL VOLO: I have been following them since they were age 15. I have all their CD’s, and I went to the February 6th, 2020 concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. I have posted many comments on this site about the wonderful trio-Gianluca, Ignazio and Piero..I have no favorites–I love all three, but I used to call Piero my “boyfriend!”

    Voices of angels, generous, kind, gracious and devoted to their fans.
    Everyone should be as loyal as they are.

    I pray for them, their families, friends, and all Italians during this time of crisis–COVID 19. I wonder if they are cancelling their 2020 concerts in Rome and Taormina because of it. I have not heard anything about that.

    God bless everyone.


    Elisa Marie from New York

    1. My close friend since college, Biaggio, is from the same part of Calabria, and still has family there. We are praying for them. I also remember tables lined up with 20 or more “parenti” at one meal, back in the old neighborhood. We have lots of marriages between Sicilian and Calabrese in Mama’s family. It works. Siamo tutti “testardi” (We are one more stubborn than the other).

  8. Hi, Jo Ann:
    It was a pleasure to meet you in Las Vegas at our not-a-concert-get-together! I was intrigued to hear what you had to say then, and I have enjoyed your journey via your post today. I’m sure you have a lot more to contribute. A working knowledge of the language is certainly a plus! Welcome to our Il Volo world.

  9. Welcome, benvenuta Jo Ann: Enjoyed reading your bio this morning! Like many others on this Blog ,I first saw ,affectionally, our guys, in their first PBS special! Since that time I attended some of their concerts. Most recently, Chicago and Tampa!! Absolutely love them !! I am 3rd generation Italian. Unfortunately, I do not speak Italian but I am proud to say that my daughter was always in love with the language and customs and today she is a Professor of Italian studies and holds the recently created position at Loyola in Chicago”the Paul & Ann Rubino Endowed Professor in Italian American Studies! I might also add that my husband speaks Italian and when my daughter was a little girl he used to take her to the Italian parish for Saturday morning Italian lessons and she continued studying Italian right through college, did her Junior year in Rome & holds a Doctorate in Italian Studies from Brown University “!! Just a little proud Mamma ! She loves Il Volo and went to the Chicago concert with me. What a delight🤗And on this Sunday morning, prayers to all 🙏🙏❤️❤️

    1. I’m an Italian Jew who has lived in two Italian Parishes, San Tomasso d’Aquino in Newark and San Antonio di Padua in Belleville, NJ. Yes, they had masses and classes in Italian. The church of St. Anne here in Denver still does.

  10. Welcome JoAnn! I enjoyed every word you wrote and will look forward to other articles from you.
    I “met” Il Volo on a PBS special and was first interested and then smitten, but have never been to a concert. I was hoping they would come to Minneapolis/St. Paul area this year, but it was not to be.
    My connection with Italy comes from my best friend who’s father was born on the ship between Sicily and Ellis Island, so he held dual citizenship.
    In my home, my father thought. we were trying to poison him the first time he tasted pizza. Finnish taste buds back then did not accept new flavors easily because, like the Scandinavian neighbors of his day, most foods served were white and flavored with salt, pepper and butter with a little cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom thrown into deserts. The international foods of today are wonderful, but they would not have been served at our table.
    Once again, welcome.

    1. I think the Finns are wonderful. They paid for the conference I had to teach at in Lusaka Zambia, and hosted the embassy dinner where I met His Royal Highness Chief Mumena, a great guy. The Finns were generous and caring about helping Zambia recover economically. And they even ate African food, roast leg of impala, which is very good.

  11. Wonderful! Thank you so much for being willing to take the time to provide the rest of us non-Italian speaking fans with translations! Your story of how Il Volo has affected your life was lovely, as well. It makes me happy to hear stories of how the boys positively influenced people’s lives.

    1. Daniela has done such a great job with translations. We have worked out a “code” so I can tell her if I found something amusing I want to add or something we can do different.

  12. JoAnn, I enjoyed your post very much! I too am Joann and live in Colorado (Grand Lake), too. I also was at the Palms though I knew before leaving that the guys would not be there. My friend and I drove anyway because we were so tired of snow! Wow hope my butt returns to normal sometime in the next 6 months or so! 800 miles one way! I grew up singing. As a lyric soprano I learned to sing and appreciate belle canto as a girl and still love it best. No wonder I fell so hard for those 3 boys the moment I heard them!
    Keep posting as you have and maybe I’ll learn Italia yet!

    1. It really is cold up in Grand Lake. I don’t blame you. Are you aware of an Il Volo fan group in Colorado? I know lots of Denver area young people and music school people who enjoy them. I’m trying to think of how to help with promotional and get-togethers the next time they are in Denver. Want to help?

  13. Hello JoAnn. Welcome to the Flight Crew. I really enjoyed your post and look forward to reading more. Thank you in advance for taking the time to help us non Italian speakers understand the songs and interviews from Il Volo. I first noticed them in 2011 on their first PBS special and have been following them ever since. I have seen them in person 8 times, 6 times in the US and twice in Verona. Seeing them in Italy in front of the home crowd is a whole other world. God willing I will be able to see them again later this year in Taormina if it becomes safe enough to travel. Looking forward to hearing about your first time seeing them live. ciao ciao

  14. Hi Jo Ann.
    Lovely to have you aboard! I am one of the original flight crew members–before we had this blog. Somehow I saw a promotional video that M. Torpedine and Tony Renis and H. Gatica put out before they launched the boys in LA. It was mainly in Italian but one of them spoke English and said how he couldn’t believe the voices coming out of the boys were theirs–he thought they were dubbed! That video hooked me!
    I subsequently found the video they made to a bunch of backers in LA, wearing jeans and t-shirts and looking as if someone just pulled them off the street, but when they opened their mouths you were transported to a different realm! Then somehow I found out they were going to make their debut in the USA in Detroit, and I eagerly waited for the PBS
    showing, constantly monitoring my local PBS stations upcoming offerings.
    I was unable to attend their first couple of concerts in Toronto, but my sister and I travelled to Ottawa in 2012–the only time they performed in Ottawa.
    In 2014 the concert in Toronto was on Piero’s birthday. I brought him a cake that said it was from the Flight Crew. I made sure it was lactose free and nut free so I hoped he could eat it. I never did find out–I am sure everyone on the bus had lots of treats going to Montreal as I saw I wasn’t the only one who brought him a cake!
    We have watched them grow from awkward teenagers to the suave young men they are today, growing in confidence, charm and musicality.
    Their values and personalities–not to mention talent–make them unique in today’s self centered entertainment world. We love them as if they were our own sons or grandsons, even if most of the time we have no idea what they are saying!
    I suspect you will help us overcome that problem!

    1. I was thinking of writing some posts of lessons in Italian based on all the funny (and startling) things the guys say on Italian TV and in their posts. It would be a not so painful way to study a language.

  15. Hi Giovanna (it’s such a pretty name),
    Enjoyed reading your post and it appears you have led a very interesting life and traveled extensively. Like many, I discovered Il Volo when they had their first PBS special “Live From Detroit”. I was born and still live in New Jersey. Looking forward to more posts from you!


  17. Welcome, welcome, Giovanna! I look forward to your next and future posts. You are definately in good company. You will never find more gracious people to read your work than right here.

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