Gianluca is very different from Piero and Ignazio. He had a calm and peaceful childhood. He didn’t have the challenges that Ignazio had or the intense classical education that Piero had. No, Gianluca lived a very simple life. Perhaps that explains why Gianluca is a romantic. With him, everything is about passion! Like his passion for Abruzzo which he takes around the world. On tour he always speaks about Abruzzo. He loves his country and, he wants others to love it too! I agree with Gianluca, Abruzzo is an amazing place. My maternal grandparents were from Abruzzo!
Gianluca’s life began in the small town of Montepagano where he lived a simple life but, when he emerged, he began a journey that would take him around the world and through his amazing voice would leave his mark in every corner of that world.
Let’s listen to how Gianluca describes the town he grew up in:
To be precise, I grew up, in Montepagano, on a hill two hundred meters as the crow flies and ten minutes by road from the sea, and Roseto degli Abruzzi.
The accents are beautiful, the dialects are beautiful, but I can say that what I prefer is the Abruzzese? I am, very, proud to be from Abruzzo. I love everything about this region. And I like to bring Abruzzo around the world and keep it high.
I am right at the sea. I’m relaxing, I’m calm! There is a sea breeze and nothing else. It’s Thursday and I am practically alone on the beach. I’m fine, from God! I’m fine because I’m home.
When Gianluca goes home to Abruzzo, he feels like he is on vacation. Montepagano is a very beautiful town. It sits at the top of a hill facing the Adriatic Sea. It is like a picture-perfect postcard! It’s no wonder Gianluca is at peace here. Montepagano is Gianluca’s paradise.
If you ask Gianluca about this paradise and how he spent his childhood there he will tell you, “My life as a child seems so far away. I remember, very, little of my childhood! It’s like twenty years have passed but, only five have passed. I’m not like Ignazio I was born and raised in Montepagano. I was traveling only with dreams. What made me dream? Music naturally.”
And, so, we come to perhaps Gianluca’s greatest passion, Music! Or let’s say our greatest passion about Gianluca, his music!
As you know, Gianluca’s mother worked, so, he went to after-school session with the nuns. He had a teacher named Gabriella. One afternoon, while Gianluca was doing homework, he suddenly got up and started singing “Time to Say Goodbye.” The teacher was speechless. “What a voice you have, what a wonderful voice,” she told Gianluca. “But do you know Andrea Bocelli?” She could not believe how it was possible for such a small child to have such a voice and to know a singer of that kind. “Of course, I know him,” Gianluca said, “he’s my idol, my favorite singer,” Gianluca said this with a certain pride. “Only I do not have his CD yet.” “I’ll bring it to you tomorrow, I’ll gift it to you” was the teacher’s answer. “I was seven, maybe eight years old and thanks to Gabriella I was able to start listening to Andrea Bocelli as often as I wanted.”
Yes, this was Gianluca’s passion as a young boy to sing Bocelli songs. And he sang them all the time. But it was music itself that motived Gianluca. In an interview with the “Rosetana Star” Gianluca said: “Music for me is the oxygen of my life.”
And it wasn’t just Bocelli as Gianluca will tell you. “As I grew older, I became more passionate about singing, including the great American classics, first of all Frank Sinatra.”
So, let’s turn to the Voice! Sinatra was known as the Voice. But I think Sinatra would be in awe of Gianluca. Love you Frank but Gianluca’s got this one!
Gianluca is known as the Velvet Voice!
I don’t who coined the phrase but, that is right on. Let’s use our senses to understand what that means. Take a piece of velvet and hold it in your hand. Now take your other hand and gently pass your hand across the velvet. What do you feel? You feel a smooth even surface that is crisp with no breaks in it. The sensation is so good that you automatically go back and do it again. And every time it’s the same. It’s pleasing!
Now take Gianluca’s voice, let the notes pass into your ears, what do you hear? A crisp, smooth, even voice with no breaks in it. The note barely passes into your ear and, you are going back for the next note. It’s always pleasing!
Gianluca is a lyrical baritone. He is exceptional because he can sing from the lowest to the highest note in the baritone range. Most baritones are limited in range. Gianluca’s voice is huge. He has a very rich chest resonance which creates a feeling of depth and drama in his voice.
A baritone’s voice is very romantic, very pleasing to listen to and is always inviting. Most songs are written for baritones. Gianluca starts, almost, every song. Why? In order for a song to be received well you must draw your audience into it. Gianluca’s voice draws you in in a romantic way and you hang on to every note. He can mesmerize you with songs like “Mi Mancherai” where he reaches into the depth of his being and yours. His interpretation of “Surrender” is electrifying. But, when Gianluca sings, “She’s Always a Woman”, he takes your breath away. The highs, the lows, the emotion, the expression. His voice expands like nothing I ever heard before. He has total command of the song. You walk away with your senses lifted to another level.
So, let’s turn to how Gianluca got to where he is today! To do this I need to introduce you to the Zecchino d’oro .
Why the Zecchino d’oro or perhaps you’re saying what is the Zecchino d’oro?
I was first introduced to the Zecchino d’oro last November when an article came out saying the Zecchino d’oro will be postponed due to Covid 19. The presenters of the year would be Mara Venier and Carlo Conti.
When I read this article, I immediately thought of Gianluca. So, what is the Zecchino d’oro and what does it have to do with Gianluca?
The Zecchino d’oro is an Italian tradition. It is an event for kids, and it is dedicated to them and to all the adults who still feel like kids.
This show is presented every year between late November and the beginning of December.
In Italy there are magical days, when it starts to get cold, and children stay in their warm homes. It’s not Christmas, but the period that precedes it when the famous Zecchino d’oro TV show is broadcast. It has been broadcast every year, for decades. It was established in 1959 by Cino Tortorella who was the good presenter who introduced the children on stage, disguised as Mago Zurlì. He was so loved by all children.
The Zecchino d’oro is the festival of the little ones. In fact, if the Sanremo Festival is aimed at adult audiences and the songs are interpreted by adults, the Zecchino d’oro is made for children, with songs tailored for children.
The songs may seem like simple songs but, they are actually much more. Special attention is given to the songs’ texts. The themes are about tolerance and peace. And this is confirmed by the expression of the event: “In this contest, the winner is not the child who sings, but the song that is sung!”
Father Berardo Rossi, one of the founders, discovered by chance, a girl who used to teach the children of his parish and organize events. Mariele Ventre, who was 22 years old, had just graduated from the Verdi Conservatory in Milan and was on her way to a promising concert career. She said yes to Fr. Rossi’s proposal and the adventure began.
Mariele liked the name Zecchino because it refers to the gold coin in the field of miracles of Collodi’s Pinocchio and thus it was called Zecchino d’oro. She founded the Piccolo Coro two years later, an institution that she would direct passionately for thirty years, until the last day before she died on December 16, 1995. Upon her death the Piccolo Coro dell’Antoniano, was renamed Piccolo Coro for Mariele.
Zecchino d’oro, however, is not only music and entertainment, but it has also been carrying out voluntary initiatives by raising funds to build schools, hospitals, orphanages, with projects all over the world, to help the less fortunate live better lives.
In 2008, the Zecchino d’oro received an amazing recognition from UNESCO, becoming a world heritage for a culture of peace: the first TV show in the world to receive such a prestigious award.
This year the images were to be reassuring to Italy. The country had the strength to bet on good feelings and a strong idea of safeguarding children.
Though you may not know this show in America, we can relate to one of the characters, Topo Gigio, the puppet created by Maria Perego. Topo Gigio landed in America many years ago on the legendary Ed Sullivan Show. For those of you who are not old enough to remember Topo Gigio, let me say we waited every week for his appearance on the show. For us kids and the adults he became a household name. Seems hard to believe that this little mouse stole the hearts of the American people.
So where does Gianluca fit into all of this? If it wasn’t for the Piccolo Choir of Roses which was inspired by the Zecchino d’oro, Gianluca may not have been discovered.
Gianluca was a member of the Piccolo Choir of Roses which is one of the local branches of this choir. The Mago Zurlì, who was the presenter of the event when Gianluca was in the Choir, was Gianluca’s father, Ercole Ginoble.
But, let me let Gianluca tell you how this all came to be….
When I sing, I don’t forget instinct. What does that mean? As I said, I have never studied singing. I learned to “use” my voice only thanks to my musical ear. I listened to the music and, it transmits everything I know. And I especially thank the Little Choir of Roses.
When I was about eight or nine, all those who knew my voice gave me the same advice: go sing in a choir. In Roseto there was the Piccolo Choir of Roses directed by the master Susy Paola Rizzo. They sang the songs of the “Zecchino d’oro” or other famous songs with arrangements in that style, with music for children. The Mago Zurlì, that was the presenter of the event, was my father. He had been for a couple of seasons.
This is where I started. It was nice because we studied the songs throughout the winter season, not the technique of singing, the songs. It was different, because we did not study the notes and how to do them, rather we studied instinctively, following what the teacher said and what our ear heard.
Then, in the summer, we demonstrated our work in the Municipality of Roseto. We sang in the squares during the local festivals, in the lidos, in the bathing establishments, around the whole of Abruzzo, all these tiny villages.
During the performances with the choir, besides the repertoire of the Zecchino d’oro, we sang the songs of Bocelli: Misere, Il Mare Calmo Della Sera, La Voce Del SilenzIo.
Of course, the greatest achievement for Gianluca and the guys was winning Sanremo! We know that it was Gianluca who convinced the guys to go to Sanremo! Or rather Gianluca convinced Piero who convinced Ignazio. And, in the end, Gianluca sums up Sanremo and the events that follow in this way!
The truth is that I was right from the beginning and, no one has ever listened to me, ever. I believed it so much that, if you notice, maybe I’m the one with the least surprised look when Carlo Conti announces the winner. Then, of those moments, one remembers little, there is great confusion, emotion. It was a dream to be able to shout, “Thank you, Italy!” from that stage. I looked at Sanremo as a child, when there was Pippo Baudo, and I was there and have won because people were on our side and it was a dream, I repeat even if I have already said. The emotion was only when my grandfather told me almost in tears: ‘Who would have told me that in my life I would see Modugno win at the Festival and then I see you win.’
On Sunday evening, when I returned to Montepagano, I found th whole village in a party, not just my grandfather: my countrymen were waiting for me from the morning to celebrate. There really was everyone, including the mayor. And then, the journalists, the local TV and a crowd of people who we could not count.
Another of the beautiful things that came after San Remo was the chance to meet the children of the Agbe, the Association of Parents of the Emopatic Children, of Pescara.
It is a reality born in 2000 from the idea of a group of parents, in fact, with children from the hemopaths treated at the Santo Spirito hospital in the city. The purpose of the association is to give support in every way to the children and families during and after the period of treatment. An initiative that, for those like me and very sensitive to the problems of health of children, and really beautiful.
The thing that honors me a lot and that, inspired by my story with Ti Lascio Una Canzone, they thought to have the children dedicate to singing, so they organize a Christmas show every year that keeps them very busy and also a lot of fun. But at Agbe they would never have thought we would meet.
Instead, after the Festival I went to see them, all young patients from 4 to 15 years, and I invited them to our concert of Il Volo Live 2015 in Chieti because I knew that Piero and Ignazio would have been happy to meet them. And, so, it was: they came, they had fun and we spent time together taking pictures and signing autographs.
But Gianluca is about emotions too! And many things that happened after Sanremo were emotional for Gianluca! Like Gianluca receiving a prize for bringing Abruzzo around the world. Let’s listen to Gianluca talk about the emotion of winning this prize.
When I talk about emotions that arrived after Sanremo, I cannot forget what it meant to receive a prize like Abruzzese that gives prestige to its region in the world.
Every year on August 5th is celebrated the Day of Abruzzesi in the world, a day set up with a regional law to remember all the emigrants. On that day five ambassadors of Abruzzo are appointed in the world, that is, Abruzzesi who have come out of the regional boundaries for different reasons and give prestige to their region.
For example, they awarded a university lecturer, a cardiologist, the founder of a cultural association, an entrepreneur and a successful executive. The ceremony, which has a different location every year, was held in the Fortress of Civitalla del Tronto, a village that is a jewel of the province of Teramo, right on the border with the Marches.
I, however, am still in Abruzzo and therefore I cannot be appointed ambassador according to regional regulations, I was awarded with a beautiful statuette that replicates the warrior Capestrano, for having brought the name of my land around the world.
I cannot tell you what a feeling it is to receive from the regional Presidency the cultural symbol of my region. The original of the warrior stands in the National Archaeological Museum, more than two meters tall, of limestone, with a large disk helmet that looks like a hat. You see it for sure. And it is one of the things I’m most proud of.
In short, Sanremo was just a dream that brought us many different emotions.
Gianluca has a heart of gold! It’s always about helping others whether through his generosity or his love of his country! That’s just how Gianluca is. He has his hand in everything and reaches it out to those who need it!
But it seems I digressed!
So now, let me go back and sum up Gianluca’s musical career! Although Gianluca never studied music he did develop a musical ear and instinct and as a member of the Piccolo Choir of Roses and his performances around Abruzzo, he was discovered by Licia Giunco who brought Gianluca to Rome to audition for Ti Lascio Una Canzone. The rest of the story is history!
And as a result of this, Gianluca Shares His Amazing Voice with people all over the world!
Join me next week as I go back Through the Fields of My Mind and open the door to a new adventure!
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*Excerpts from Il Volo, Un’avventura straordinaria, La nostra storia.
Credit to owners of all photos and videos.