Let’s mix it up a bit today! I decided to write about two amazing young men who celebrated birthdays this week! Our own Ignazio Boschetto and Nico Arezzo! Two shining stars. Similar personalities and similar genius! In the dictionary, under the word music, you will find pictures of Ignazio and Nico. They are the epitome of music!
It’s been a while since I wrote about Nico. Many of the new fans don’t know who he is and, the old fans ask me about him all the time. They like to know what’s going on in his life and his music. They’ve been following him since day one! For me day one was the Verona Festival Show in 2017! An astonishing young man. For those of you who are meeting Nico for the first time, hold on to your seats because you’re in for an exciting ride. Of course, we can’t talk about Nico without talking about Ignazio! The man behind Nico!
So, let’s start with Ignazio!
For all those new fans, I know you all love Ignazio our amazing tenor but, did you know he is also a producer? At 25 Ignazio started his own production company. Does that surprise you? It doesn’t surprise me. It makes a lot of sense to me. At the beginning of 2020 Ignazio started a production company called, Floki Production and the first person he signed was Nico Arezzo!
So much of this I said before but, it needs to be said again. If Ignazio did nothing more than sing the rest of his life, he would be remembered as a singer who captured an audience at a very young age and continues to intrigue them with every passing day.
He is the voice that never ends! The voice that intrigues! The voice that takes your breath away! The voice that leads you to ecstasy!
Ignazio’s story is about music but, it is also about family! Ignazio comes from a very close-knit family starting with his dad, Vito, who has recently left us but will always be in our hearts, his mom, Caterina and his sister Nina. Why do we know these people so well? Because we met them when Ignazio first started out and the guys traveled with their parents. So, when we talk about Ignazio or any of the guys we always seem to come back to their families, as well we should, because we know that Ignazio’s good values come from his parents.
This morning when I started writing this story, a story came up on Instagram that I was a bit surprised to see. It was Piero walking around San Luca. I’ve never seen Piero there before. I know Piero lives in Bologna now but, I always consider Bologna as Ignazio’s city! But this is actually a good introduction to Ignazio’s early years.
In an interview, Ignazio said he would go on Sunday morning walks, with the family, in the center of Bologna. Under the portico there was a lady who made fresh pasta and he said his mother would buy Tortellini from her for Sunday dinner.
What are these porticos?
The Emilia-Romagna region of Italy is known for its porticos. Bologna is in the province of Emilia-Romagna. Ignazio was born in Bologna and after living in Marsala through his teenage years and early twenties, he returned to Bologna. In all the cities the shops are covered by porticos so you can shop in any weather. Entire blocks are covered by porticos. The most famous portico being the Portico of San Luca. The Portico was built to protect a painting by St. Luke of the Virgin Mary and Jesus from the rain. Every year the painting is taken from the Basilica of San Luca and brought in procession to the Cathedral of St. Peter’s in Bologna. This procession happens every May. The San Luca portico is the longest covered walkway in the world. It is 2.24 miles.
So, our story for Ignazio begins in Bologna where he grew up, went to school, played lots of soccer and sang in the choir until the time his family decided to move back to Marsala.
At ten years old Ignazio found himself in Marsala. The last place in the world he wanted to be! But like any other ten-year-old, the minute he made friends everything changed.
Ignazio the Singer
While Ignazio’s life in Bologna was all about soccer, his life in Marsala was all about music.
In Marsala Ignazio joined the school choir. Every day he would practice his singing and the people who visited his mother’s pizzeria had the opportunity to hear his beautiful voice! Eventually one of the customers approached his mother and suggested Ignazio take singing lessons. So, Ignazio traded his soccer ball for music lessons and the rest is history!
Ignazio the Songwriter
In my story Land of Sages and Fools ~ Made of Devils and Saints, I focus on a different side of Ignazio.
I wrote: “Sometimes I feel like I spend every day of my life writing about Ignazio! In the last year I wrote over fifty stories about the guys and, it seems as if half of them were about Ignazio’s projects. Because of all his projects, on occasion I’ve had to write two and three stories a week about him, wearing many different hats. Entertainer, Lyricist, Manager, Entrepreneur!”
Last year Ignazio wrote the theme song for a new Rai Series called Màkari! Truthfully, who better to write a song about Sicily and the region of Trapani than a native child! No, Ignazio wasn’t born in Sicily but, for Italians, who your parents are is who you are so, in fact, Ignazio is Sicilian.
It amazes me that the young boy who went to Sicily kicking and screaming when he was ten, became the spokesman for Marsala, around the world, and now for the region of Trapani. Ignazio came to embrace the land of his parents and he loves all the wonders of Sicily. Sicily is different than Italy. Yes, I know Sicily is Italy but, how the Sicilians live and, who they are is very different. Ignazio’s song invites us to take a better look at this other land in the south. It speaks of “a land of sages and a land of fools, made from devils and saints.” Yes, that’s what Sicily is! They honor their saints while keeping their superstitions!
Ignazio invites you to live a new reality through his eyes. He invites us to see a different side of Sicily through his beautiful theme song, Màkari.
Ignazio the Producer
So now we’ve met the singer and the songwriter so next we need to meet the producer. But first we need to meet Nico!
Nico the Energy
Nico’s story begins in Ragusa, Sicily! Nico (Domenico) Arezzo was born in Ragusa, Sicily on October 2, 1998. You might say he was born and raised on a stage, initially “with drumsticks in his hands” … but soon the need to put one note after another brought him to the guitar.
Both of his parents are entertainers. His mother Emanuela Curcio is a dancer and a dance teacher, and his father Peppe Arezzo is a pianist and an Orchestra Conductor. Nico also has a younger sister Emma.
But what is it I see in this family that gives me a good feeling? Values, good values! Like Ignazio’s family! Their good values stand out! It seems they were raised in the same way!
I talk a lot about values because I think it molds beautiful people. To understand where I’m coming from, let’s take a closer look at the Arezzo family.
When you’re a family of entertainers, it seems someone is always traveling so, whenever everyone has the opportunity to be together, it’s a festival. And what do they celebrate? Everything!
Nico explains it in this way.
I’m down! (in Ragusa). It’s Christmas time. We celebrate birthdays when it’s not the right day. We celebrate birthdays when we are together. Tomorrow or maybe the day after tomorrow it’s my turn!
And during his time at home for Christmas 2020, Nico experienced his first earthquake. He said, Yesterday I felt my first earthquake in history. It was weird, powerful! I’m down! It’s Christmas time and everything is shaking! Happy birthday to everyone.
How did Nico get to where he is? Certainly, he got his talent from his mom and dad but how did he get to where he is today?
Nico first came to my attention in 2017 when he won the Festival Show in Verona with the song “Se Vuoi” (If You Want). I happened to be in Italy at the time and I was very taken by his performance. Nico can be very engaging and, you can get lost in Nico’s words and actions. Nico said “Se Vuoi” made him move! I say Nico made “Se Vuoi” move! Nico said he was drawn to this song because, “It’s a song that forces the body to move even without wanting. It’s a fresh song that turns on everything that can be turned on … the same freshness that I want to convey now that the music has taken my whole life.”
The song is exciting and lively, like Nico! I remember that his voice captured me. He has lots of rhythm and expression. He immediately captured the audience. And I know he captured the attention of at least one of the judges that night, Michele Torpedine.
I remember watching Michele during the performance. He was feeling Nico’s every move. I was not surprised when he took Nico on!
So, we have the beginnings for both these guys now let’s put them together to see how they work together.
And so, the collaboration begins!
Let’s listen to what Michele Torpedine had to say about this event, “This is the first moment where we understood.”
What makes Nico so good? He’s very talented and the team is amazing! Nico Arezzo, Ignazio Boschetto and Michele Torpedine! Collaboration complete!
Nico is versatile! How about Nico and Ignazio singing a Pino Daniele medley? Anyone who sings a Pino Daniele song, gets a seat in my corner!
Nico along with Ignazio, Davide Marchi and Francesco Landi, wrote and set to music the song “Volo” which Nico sang at the Sanremo Festival Giovani in 2019. In the song there is the desire of the singer to live 360 degrees, with joys, pains, emotions and also a lot of love. But that’s not all, what struck everyone about his performance was his ability to play the guitar, an element that has conquered the public, the judges and the critics. He can make that guitar Scream!
In January 2020, Ignazio started Floki Production. Nico was the first artist to sign a contract with Ignazio under Floki. This made lots of sense to me.In many ways Nico reminds me of Ignazio. He knows what he wants and, he goes after it.
Perfect Audio! 4 Cameras! A Crazy Band and, it was all LIVE ON INSTAGRAM!
Ignazio the Genius
And, in the mist of the pandemic, Ignazio did a high-quality sound LIVE on Instagram to present the first release by Floki. “Gorilla!” This was never done before but of course the genius of Ignazio brought it all together. It was an amazing event!
While the music world was trying to restart, Ignazio, at age 25, has made his debut as a producer. Ignazio said, “Production has always been my dream. It started with an idea to give a chance to those who deserve a break.” Ignazio reminds us “as it happened 11 years ago to himself, Gianluca and Piero.”
Speaking of Floki, Ignazio says, ′′Working through a small label gives you the opportunity to follow means, believing in people even before the project and following them step by step on their path, discarding logic on the side.”
Ignazio signed Nico Arezzo a year ago but, he had his eye on him since 2017 when he appeared on Xfactor and the Festival Show in Verona. Ignazio said: “After the victory at the Festival Show, Michele Torpedine started following him and, slowly, he and I came to the decision to create a label.”
Ignazio spoke of the release of Gorilla and the debut of Floki. “Yeah! This is the moment Nico has been waiting for, for two and a half years. We could have anticipated the times, but I think we did the right thing to wait. Nico needed to grow calmly in writing. And he’s doing it very well. Yesterday was a debut for me too and it’s a great satisfaction to see written on Spotify under the title of the song, Floki Production.” I know I loved seeing Floki Production on Amazon too!
Wonderful achievement, Ignazio!
In “Gorilla”, Nico comes alive! He is the Gorilla in the jungle! He has the feeling and the expression for this song. He’s bouncing all over the stage. He’s definitely got the moves! It’s so catchy! And people love it!
Following the release of Gorilla, Nico did an interview with Nico Donvito, an Italian Music Blogger. In this interview, I saw another side of Nico. We hear this young man talk about his music. His place in the music industry. How he got there and all the people who are responsible for his journey. When I listened to this interview, I shook my head and said, he’s just like Ignazio.
I heard a, very, intelligent and responsible young man who has worked hard to get to where he is. He talks about, who he is, where he came from and how he sees his future.
Right out the gate, Nico impressed me with his insight. Nico saw “Gorilla” as a means of escape from where we are in our world today and an expression of where he finds himself in the world.
Nico said, Gorilla’ has a fresh taste, because in the last few months we have been a bit obliged to heavy thoughts, to stop and reflect on important things, to close ourselves in ourselves. At a certain point the moment comes when you need a beer on the beach with your friends, ‘Gorilla’ is just that, something not at all thick which and, in certain situations, can be essential.”
That’s pretty deep and right on. It was almost as if Nico was saying I wrote this song two years ago, but this was its moment. It’s when it was needed. To say that the ‘Gorilla’ is that moment in time when you need to kick back or as Nico put it when you need a beer on the beach with your friends, yes, that’s exactly what “Gorilla” is. Its’ light and intriguing and it brought us away from all the madness that preceded it. Perhaps, the finger sign that Ignazio made the day that “Gorilla” was released, that seemed to upset so many people, was nothing more than Ignazio saying: Let’s take the weight of the world and toss it aside. You had your way and now, we’re going to have ours!
And where is Nico now? In his own words, “There are days that if I focus, Traffic Lights go green when I want.”
Nico’s new song, “Polline (pollen)” has been released. Nico says, ‘I wrote almost all of my song in this notebook. ‘Polline’ was born a year ago. This summer this notebook fell into the sea, dried in the sun and ‘Polline’ remains legible.”
In a review a writer said: This is a “new piece in the path of the artist produced by Ignazio Boschetto. Nico Arezzo’s ‘Polline’ is the single that marks the return of one of the most talented songwriters of the new generation already the winner of the Festival Show a few years ago.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself!
Nico tell us, “This song has been ready for at least a year, in the meantime I have written many other things, I have explored a new musical genre that you will listen to soon and I am evolving but, this piece, I absolutely did not want to abandon it because I am very attached to it.
‘Polline’ is a song to which I am very attached, especially, literally. It’s a piece that comes almost as a challenge. They said to me, ‘Can you talk about a relationship that’s over but, looking back, you can say ‘but it was beautiful’? And so, even though there may be a small void hidden between the lines of the song, thinking that I haven’t lived through that story would make me sadder.”
And how did Nico preview this new song on Instagram? Honey jars! Nico said, “I’m releasing a new track this month. Every day I will add a jar of honey in my fridge with a letter on it, not in order. I start today! Go into my stories, write in the comments the first word you think of. Try not to guess right away or you will ruin everything for me! Every day a jar a letter! Oddly, though my Italian is very limited, I guessed what it was!
What is the song about? The answer is in one line of the song! “They say you can understand a person from what you find in his fridge.” Let’s go to Nico’s fridge and see what he’s really all about!
Another amazing video! It makes me smile! It makes me laugh! It makes me happy! Nico, everything you do excites me! From day one I knew you would bring a fresh approach to the music industry and, I was right. You have such energy and, all your projects are ambitious like you. Your videos present the real you!
Before I end this story, I want to go back to my story about Ignazio’s song Màkari. Why? Because this song says a lot about Ignazio. It tells us who he is and where his heart is! Everything else falls into place.
In a video, Ignazio talked about the summers he spent in S. Vito Capo in the landscape of Màkari. What is it that draws him back year after year? Is it the “silence” of the land that screams for you to open your eyes and look around at the wonder of the landscape or, the traditions of the land that go deep into your soul? It seems to Ignazio, Màkari is joy and love and so he will never forget it! And what does that say! Simple! This is Ignazio’s story!!! His story of Sicily, the land he left to pursue his dream and the land he is drawn back to time and again. Yes, Bologna is his home but, Sicily is the place he comes home to!
Mix Ignazio’s Genius and Nico’s Energy and what do you get? A Complicated but, always Delightful mixture!
Join me next week as I go back Through the Fields of My Mind and open the door to a new adventure!
If this story sounds familiar to you it’s because I had to write a similar story last year about our, Ignazio.
When I go on Instagram or Facebook and I see stories that hurt the guys, it upsets me. These are three of the nicest guys you’re ever going to meet in your life. It’s not just a career for them, it’s their life, their whole life. It’s what they’ve dedicated themselves to since they were teenagers. Everything they do they do for us the Fans. We as you know, aren’t just fans to them, we are family. They grew up with us and they know how important we are and, they do things every day to try to please us. Sometimes it’s a picture, sometimes a song or sometimes just their joking around. Then there are days, not too often, when they are quiet, they just hide themselves in their own lives. Lives that you and, I take for granted every day, they only get to enjoy occasionally. No, they can’t be out there for us 24/7 but they try their best to make themselves visible and available.
Even though we are like family to them, they do have families of their own. Families that they have spent so little time with over the last twelve years. The pandemic has been very hard on all of us. It was also hard for the guys because they had to leave us their fan family. If anything, there was some good that came out of this, the guys got to stay at home with their families. Since they were teenagers, they never had the opportunity to stay at home with their families for a whole year. And I think Ignazio expressed it best in an interview when he said, “if it wasn’t for the pandemic, I wouldn’t have spent those last (precious months) months with my dad.”
I chose to write about Ignazio this week because of some sad things that have been said about him on Instagram. I’ve had to do this on other occasions for Piero and Gianluca. This is a very important time for Ignazio. It’s a time when he needs to be near family and, among other things, to deal with the loss of his father. The purpose of this piece is to show you, those who don’t already know it, how, really, nice Ignazio is and has always been since he was a child!
Let me start by telling you about what Ignazio does for us with his music and what he contributes to the music industry.
If Ignazio did nothing more than sing for the rest of his life, he would be remembered as a singer who captured an audience at a very young age and continues to intrigue them with every passing day.
From the first time he stepped on the stage, he was a star. I remember watching him on PBS and thinking if he’s this good now, what will he be like ten years from now. Along with Gianluca and Piero these three, amazing, men have achieved in ten years what most men could only dream of achieving in a lifetime!
He is the voice that never ends! The voice that intrigues! The voice that takes your breath away! The voice that leads you to ecstasy!
But it doesn’t end there. No, there is so much more to be said about Ignazio and the best place to start is in his performances. He is the ultimate entertainer. He is the production. His presence is there in every aspect of the production. He is a prolific entertainer! He sees music! He feels music! He breathes music! Follow him around the stage. The little gestures aren’t just for our entertainment they are real movements within each song. Let me describe it as I have described it for you in the past:
Ignazio is known as the funny one and that he is! But is it really about the joke? Or is it more about the production.
I want you to think about the performance. We know these guys have amazing voices but, what if they got on the stage and for two hours, they did nothing but sing. I don’t think it would work. A performance needs the ability to move on. There’s no change of scenery and no intermission so how do you move the performance along? Ignazio! The joking he brings into the performance provides the levity to relive the seriousness of the performance. He brings a certain ease and suspense to the performance. The audience is always wondering, what will he do next.
But is it always about joking? I want you to think about what I’m saying. Ignazio is constantly moving around the stage. He’s dancing and keeping the rhythm. He’s swinging the microphone around and constantly nodding towards the orchestra, Gianluca and Piero. Is that the lead up to a joke? I don’t think so. Let me tell you what you are looking at. Ignazio is following every note that is sung or played on that stage. His mind is in motion. He is sensitive and passionate with music. He has the ability to see the music as it is happening. He knows where every instrument should come in and out. That’s why you notice little things like him smiling, nodding, pointing towards the musicians, Gianluca or Piero. He also grabs the baton from the conductor, sometimes to joke but more often to conduct. Think about him conducting the Asti Symphony Orchestra while Marcello Rota sang his tenor part. He wasn’t joking, he was conducting. And that’s why everyone was watching in amazement. And when it was over, they were speechless. Look at Michele Torpedine go across the stage to embrace him. He is in awe of this young man. You call him funny I call him brilliant! I am going to make a prediction here! Remember you heard it here first. Ignazio will compose a great operatic pop opera one day.
In an article by Ilvolovers Romania they commented: “Ignazio, for what he looks like and also for everything he sometimes hides, is an imposing, brave and authentic young man. Sensitive and passionate, his performance creates a hurricane of feelings for anyone who looks at him and listens to him. For him, the phrase “singing with the heart” is not a metaphor, it is a reality expressed in every gesture and makes us wonder what his eyes see when he sings.”
Let’s look at how Ignazio has helped aspiring young artist.
On February 2, 2014, Ignazio collaborated with singer Roberto Amadè in a project that resulted in a wonderful concert, the Amadè-Boschetto concert which was organized through the Cultural and Artistic Center “Ignazio Boschetto,” with the support of The Town Hall of Marsala. The Teatro Impero archipelago hall has long applauded this initiative which brought together several artists from Marsala.
Ignazio has helped many young people in their careers. In February 2014, Katya Pantaleo, a young singer from Marsala, won the Premio della Critica at Sanremo with the song “Come in paradiso” music, lyrics and arrangement by Ignazio.
On August 30, 2014, Chiara Cusumano and Giorgia Vassalo, The Duo Sisters, reached the finals of the Festival di Castrocaro, performing a song composed by Ignazio: “Paura d’Amare”.
And let’s not forget the beautiful song he wrote “Hablando de ti” that he has performed in concert.
And what about the theme song for the Rai Series Makari.
Let me add to this by recognizing Ignazio’s production company, Floki Productions. At 25 he started his own production company. Does this surprise you? It doesn’t surprise me. It makes a lot of sense to me.
Floki Productions I’m sure is Ignazio’s dream. So, where does the dream begin. Nico Arezzo!
In many ways Nico reminds me of Ignazio. He knows what he wants and, he goes after it. Nico was the first artist to sign a contract with Ignazio under Floki Productions.
You will remember that Ignazio released Nico’s song Gorilla on June 30, 2020 (in the middle of the pandemic) in a “Live on Instagram.” Let’s listen to what Ignazio had to say about that:
“On Thursday night we were the first to do a high-quality sound live on Instagram.”
People wouldn’t dream of doing what Ignazio did. What a spectacular show!
While the music world was trying to restart, Ignazio, at age 25, made his debut as a producer. And what a phenomenal production it was!
Ignazio said, “Production has always been my dream. It started with an idea to give a chance to those who deserve a break,” Ignazio reminds us “as it happened 11 years ago to myself, Gianluca and Piero.”
Some of you may remember the interview I did last October with Ignazio’s teacher Ermelinda De Bartoli. (you can read the full interview “Watching Ignazio Take Flight” on www.ilvoloflightcrw.com) Now I want to go back to that interview and pull out some of the questions and answers which will give you some insight as to who Ignazio really is:
Excerpts from the Interview of October 2020….
Susan: Ignazio’s mother said Ignazio was always very serious and responsible! How would you describe him as a teenager?
Ermelinda: I met him when he was only 14 years old. He was at the beginning of adolescence and, he was always joking. He was very attached to his family. He grew up in Bologna because the family moved there for work and, at the age of ten he moved to Marsala when the family decided to return. In Marsala he attended middle school and two years of high school. At school he was playful and sociable, with a very open and modest character. He often told us about his passion for singing which he studied with a teacher. His life as a teenager was not hard, because, as soon as he started his career at the age of 15, his life changed due to the numerous commitments linked to his success and the new path taken with Il Volo.
Susan: Ignazio is very kind and compassionate. Was this something you noticed about him as a teenager?
Ermelinda: He was very generous and affable to everyone. In particular, he was very compassionate towards some pupils with disabilities, with whom he often conversed, holding them in high regard and showing empathy.
I remember an episode one evening after he won Ti Lascio Una Canzone, the whole class with me and another colleague went to the pizzeria. Ignazio was just fifteen and, when it was time to pay the bill, he came to me and said: “Professor, you are my guest.” I understood that in him there was so much kindness in his manner and in his soul, in this case, a kind gesture towards a woman.
Susan: When Ignazio was your student, he was already studying with Lilliana Adreanò. Ignazio said he had a great passion for soccer and, he loved to play every afternoon but, it had been less so after he started taking singing lessons. He said, “I had less free time and then no free time and I realized that singing was more important than all the rest.” How do you think Ignazio saw his future at that time?
Ermelinda: It is true to study singing he began to leave other hobbies. After Ti Lascio Una Canzone despite having been praised by these great Italian singers, who sang with him, I remember that he told all this with great modesty and simplicity and despite the fact that he had won he never spoke of great expectations nor did he delude himself, at least, until the moment in which Michele Torpedine and Tony Renis hired them after a short time, to form Il Volo. I heard the comments on him by experts such as Claudio Cecchetto and Al Bano who, when he told him that he had recently taken singing lessons, were amazed.
Another detail that I noticed is that while he sang, he always kept his eyes closed and he told me that he was doing it because having recently lost his grandfather, who he adored and, it was he who Ignazio thought of while he sang and, he sang with his heart.
Susan: Ignazio went from your classroom to Ti Lascio Una Canzone and immediately became a star. You told me after the Italian program, he just took off. You said you saw him take off! What was it like watching all of this happen before your eyes? Did it seem like it was all happening very fast?
Ermelinda: Of course, having seen him “take flight” in a short time and, see him pass by the school desks, and then on a stage was for me, as for all his companions, a great emotion and a source of great pride.
Susan: Did you see a change in Ignazio during this time?
Ermelinda: Ignazio was still at school, after his first success, and with all of us, he always remained himself … with a modesty and genuineness that still distinguishes him today.
Susan: During the performances Ignazio sang with some really great singers. Massimo Ranieri, Albano, Fausto Leali to name a few. These singers were in awe of him. Do you think that Ignazio understood what was happening to him?
Ermelinda: Yes, these singers were more than in awe of what they heard, they were astonished, something that Ignazio confirmed when we asked him. And, to think that he was still a kid, and had not yet completed the development of the vocal cords.
Yes, Ignazio from the point of view of his singing ability had already understood in comparison with these famous singers that he had what it takes to become even greater.
Susan: How did your other students feel about what was going on in Ignazio’s life?
Ermelinda: His classmates were very happy and excited. Every Saturday night none of us left the house. We all waited to see Ignazio on TV … and on Monday when he returned to school, for the class, it was a riot and bursting questions, and also a source of pride to kids as they were, to have him as a companion … the little big star, their friend.
Susan: Did you every stop to think about how this all happened? How did a young man from a very simple family suddenly become a superstar?
Ermelinda: It often occurred to me that what was happening to Ignazio was a fairy tale … of those things that you think can only happen in fairy tales. He is a boy with a great talent hitherto unknown, from a very modest family but very united and with healthy values, he was able to tread the scenes of half the world … from his cottage in the countryside to a duet with Barbra Streisand and much more that we know.
The way in which all this happened is told by the facts that there was a first revelation of his talent and Ti Lasco Una Canzone, as we know, could remain there as it happens to many without getting anything else; then as he also said he had the luck of an intuition of the director who suggested to the managers Michele Torpedine and Tony Renis to form the trio.
Susan: How did you feel when Il Volo won Sanremo?
Ermelinda: When Il Volo won in Sanremo, that evening, in addition to the great emotion, I retraced the periods of when Ignazio was still young, always talking with humility about his first successes and I also thought that from the beginning I told myself that he was a phenomenon, so seeing him on that stage, the most important in Italy, was for me just as it was for all Marsala people.
Susan: Finally, what would you like to add about Ignazio that we haven’t already covered?
Ermelinda: I think I have said everything about him of what I know and what I have had the opportunity to perceive. When I talk about Ignazio, with others, I always say that he is very humble, modest and always very affectionate with the people who meet him. I still say:Ignazio, is a beautiful soul.
For Ignazio family is important. They are everything to him. So, please understand that he needs to be with his family right now. You like being with your family. How about posting some nice pictures of the Ignazio we love? Soon he will be in the limelight again. Until then, let’s remember, Ignazio is a Beautiful Soul!Respect that soul!
Join me next week as I go back Through the Fields of My Mind and open the door to a new adventure!
Today we will take a look at the guys around the ages of ten and eleven. Yes, the music was always there but, there were other things in their lives that had great meaning. You might call them passions! Gianluca and Ignazio had a passion for soccer. But Piero had no passions! None that I ever heard of. For Piero it was always about studying, not school studies, but classical music studies. Perhaps because he had asthma, he never took an interest in sports. The closest he comes to passion is his love for Chemistry and Math. And if a friend could be a passion, then he certainly had a friend who fit the bill!
So, let’s follow the guys on their afternoon adventures.
A Family Passion for Soccer!
Between the age of eleven and thirteen, Gianluca enjoyed playing soccer! What was it Gianluca loved about soccer? You might say for Gianluca the passion was inherited! Let’s listen to what he has to say about his passion for Soccer….
Football has always been a great passion of mine. This too, like music, is a family passion.
My father is a big fan of Pescara, as is my grandfather. They were also big fans of Gianluca Vialli, no matter which team he played on because he was a myth for my father. And because Vialli also had a name that appealed to both my father and mother, when I was born, they named me Gianluca. Let’s say that name aside, my father gave me a piece of football culture.
I am a big fan of Roma football, before Il Volo, more so. I watched all the games, I did not miss one, and every time Totti beat a penalty, I covered my head with my arms and, if I heard the scream from the television, I screamed from home. But now there are work commitments and that prevents me from following my favorite team. Even now, despite the commitments, I continue to play football as soon as I can.
When I go back to Montepagano I always try to organize a game with old friends with whom I trained in the youth teams of Roseto.
How did I play soccer? I was good, come on, I did not like losing, I wanted to score goals by force, I never passed the ball, and when I had the ball, I scored. Let’s say that I was a bit ‘instinctive’ even on the football field.
Once when I was playing in Pescara there was a score of 4 to 4. I had already scored two goals, but the draw was not enough for me, I wanted the win. Only the field was difficult, it had rained, so there was a lot of mud. What happened? I pull, huge slide and I fill myself with mud, from head to toe. What do I do? I start shouting, ‘I got dirty!’ In all this, it must be said that the game was true, even if we were very young. There was the championship, with the ranking and everything else, it’s not that you could take and do what was going on in your head. The referee shouts, ‘Get up, what are you playing ball.’ ‘No,’ I said, ‘I’m leaving, I’m all dirty!’ He shouts, ‘get up and go to the locker room.’ Not for nothing, they don’t call me the ‘little Cassano’ (famous Italian soccer player) for nothing. Cassano was so good and, he was so restless!
Another time we were at the Borghesiana in Rome, at a national tournament. The Roseto was also in series C2 and even in the very young there were good coaches, competent, good, that when they told you one thing, that was that, because they knew what they were talking about. In that game at the Borghesiana, I do not even remember, against who we were, I did not score goals, the coach takes me away from the game. At the beginning I came back on the bench nice quiet, but after a moment they did everything to restrain me. ‘I want to go in! I want to score!’ I was shouting. I kicked the coach. Now obviously, I would not do it again, even if football is still my passion.
This is one of many stories Gianluca told about playing soccer when he was a child. Let’s think about this for a moment. If Gianluca didn’t become a singer, would he have become a soccer player? He was, real, good!
A Passion that gets you in Trouble!
On July 24, 2004, at the age of ten, Ignazio moved to Marsala. Let’s listen to what Ignazio had to say about life in Sicily….
In the beginning I did not accept Sicilian life. It was difficult for me to set myself up at school because the programs were, very, different from the school where I had trained. The consequence? I was seen by everyone as ‘the polentone’ of the situation, it was the Bolognese accent….
(A “polentone” is a somewhat derogatory term that is given to the citizens of northern Italy.)
I did not take it (the move) very well. At a lunch at my paternal grandmother’s house, my mother was so hurt by my words that she started to cry: ‘I recommend you, if I die you must take me to Bologna.
Fortunately, Ignazio met new friends close to his home and this changed his mind.
Let’s start from the assumption, if there is still any need for it, that being lively every now and then can cause some damage. What damage is that? To answer this question, let’s go back to Bologna with Ignazio.….
My main project when I went to school was to get home and spend the afternoon playing football. It had been less so after I started taking singing lessons. I had less free time and then no free time and I realized that singing was more important than all the rest. But in general, soccer was really a big passion for me. From an early age I had a passion for football, also because my sister played football when we lived in Bologna and then she continued, even in Marsala. She played volleyball first, and I also inherited that passion, then she moved her passion to soccer.
At school I was bored, I was learning but I was bored. But I always enjoyed playing soccer. I came home, had my lunch and did my homework faster than light, because even homework bored me. As fast as I could, I went down to the playground to play football with my friends. It happened in Bologna and, it happened in Marsala, ‘nu puzzu’ (the saying refers to the well which smells) it was there that I went after school, in time to eat something, and then everyone ran behind the house to the well.
Let’s say that there were some basic rules to be followed in order to stay away from home all afternoon. One of these was that I always had to tell mom where I was, if I walked away, I called her with the intercom and warned her that I was going away, and if I did not go away, I would call her with the intercom and warn her, ‘Mom, I’m down here!’
After five minutes: ‘Mom, I’m down here!’
Another five minutes: ‘Mom I’m down here!’
Because I worried that she was worried, and I wanted to let her know that I was ……. down there.
Near the end of July 2004, we had already packed everything and, we were ready for the move to Marsala. I went to get an ice cream with some friends, near home, really, just a few steps away. Upon returning, I saw some guys in the building next to ours playing football. I could go home and do nothing but, it was the last days I was in town? And the game was in the courtyard next to mine, it was practically like it was mine. So, I stop. I did not think to call mom with the intercom, and I played soccer, all afternoon, without even a ‘Mom, I’m down here!’ And mom started looking for me, all over Molinella. She rode around the city and did not find me. Then she called my father, who was at the supermarket shopping: ‘Come I cannot find Ignazio.’ My father arrives, my mom throws the bike in a corner, runs in the car, then, out of the corner of her eye she sees my shorts.
‘Hey, mom ….’
At one point, my mother from anger also spoke Chinese. If it had not been that we had already packed everything for the move, I certainly would have to iron two beautiful chairs full of clothes for punishment. Instead, as a punishment, no more backyard and no pizza for a month. What then, being without pizza for a month, was worse than two chairs of clothes to iron, because I always ate pizza. And pasta, too. Two other passions of mine, together with soccer and music. I know, I know, you could see from my form. In the canteen, at school, I liked to eat toasted bread! And I always asked for an ‘encore of pasta.’ Mamma told the ladies who worked in the canteen: ‘Do not give him too much soup as he is chubby, just a little bit of pasta and if you do not give it to him, even better.’ One day, one of them replied: ‘But when he comes with that little face and tells me, please another little …. here, lady, how can I say no’ I was a born actor. But in all, the one that gave me the most satisfaction with pasta was Nina. I ate some huge dishes. Because mom and dad had to work at night, I ate with Nina and, she cooked pasta. ‘Nun è che ci ni calava settanta grammi!’ (It was not that she cooked two and a half ounces!) She cooked almost 9 ounces for two people. We ate, really, full dishes. And then, Nina would call mom at work and ask her for recipes: ‘How do you make ragout like grandmother does? How do you make crepes?’ And she started cooking for the whole family.
The moral of the story, in addition to my passion for soccer and volleyball, Nina gave me a passion for cooking.
In Marsala, Ignazio, Vito and Vincenzo, and sometimes Ivan, would meet every day at the well and decide what to do. They would build huts, play the game of the week, go for a bike ride, in short, everything and more, and this is also where they met to go to school football that was just two kilometers from their homes. And sometimes, in the middle of a challenge or under a hut, under construction, you could hear shouting “Ignazio!” and everything stopped….
We stopped breathing a second and descended silent. Mom wanted me to go home and do my homework. She wanted, but I did not always agree.
A Passion for Chemistry and Math? And, my personal favorite, the Story of Denise!
We know if Piero had a passion, it would be for music but, in this story, we find out he had no great passion for school but, he did have a passion, so to speak, for chemistry and math!
Piero tells us that he had good grades in school because of his secret weapon Denise….
For Denise I should make a monument.
Denise was Piero’s classmate for twelve years. The good grades were thanks to her. In the afternoon Piero would pick her up in his electric car, an E50, and they would study together. She repeated the lesson and he learned by what she was saying….
I did not like reading books, what could I do? The songs have always remained in my head right away, I listen to a song and after two, three times at most, I know all the words, but the lessons no, these do not come into my head even with the hammering. You imagine that once, out of despair, to memorize a history lesson, I gave it a reason, that is, I put it to music. But when I could not do this – that is, most of the time – I sat next to Denise and I listened to her repeat the lesson. Or, in classwork, she wrote and did it, zac! She put the paper in the middle of the desk and, I copied. The professors probably knew but they never caught me and so they always gave me that half vote less than she, even if the tasks were the same. But, who cared, I was very happy.
I only liked two school subjects. All of you are thinking physical education. No. Physical education I did not like, I did not want to put on the tracksuit because I was fat and, I felt clumsy with the tracksuit. Today everything is different.
Piero lost fifty-three pounds and he likes to go to the gym. He also helped Ignazio to get involved with exercising when he was on his diet….
At school, I did not like gymnastics instead I loved chemistry. I had good marks which I earned by myself. No Denise. And I excelled in Math, in fact, I am so good, that I am the one of the three that runs with a bag full of all of our accounts.
As for the other school subjects, I was always ordered, I was studying only the necessary, I did what I could. It is not that I did not study because of bad will, it was that I had other projects and the professors knew and understood it. I was not a tramp that ran from morning to night with the motorbike, I was one who was at home studying piano, solfeggio, I had many commitments, I always had something to do.
I was known in the country, I never smoked a cigarette, never used drugs of any kind, never went to the disco, I never did stupid. In short, never.
If you ask Piero’s father, he will surely tell you about the wheelies with the motorbike. It was the only thing that he did not do right. His friends told Mr. Barone that Piero did wheelies and he got angry….
When I arrived at the roundabout in the center of the city, voom, I did a wheelie with the motorbike. Just that. But even in those cases I was very responsible. Do you know what I was doing when I was driving the motorbike? My father gave me sheets of newspaper, I put them on my chest, under my shirt and I went around so the wind did not enter my chest, understood? Full helmet, strictly integral.
If you’re wondering, yes, I was a little weighed in those years but, I was so controlled because, I had a thousand allergies that put my respiratory tract “in danger.” I never went to school trips, I could not go to the disco, I could not do certain things that all my peers did. But now, when I return home I go to the disco, we are never less than twenty, twenty-five people, and Dad is calm because I’m even more responsible than before and because in the group there are also people older than me, even forty years and married.
I like being with people much older than me because, even if I’m only twenty years old, I have to manage my life in a very serious way and at a certain point I had to ‘grow by force.’ It’s strange if I think about it, because that little boy Piero, who was attentive to everything he did, so as not to ruin his voice, and not to get some asthma attack, would never have imagined becoming a singer. He had other plans.
So, I started this story with Gianluca’s passion for Soccer. Let’s end with the soccer game that the guys played in for charity. The one time when the guys shared a Passion,
The Passion for Helping Others.
I will let Gianluca tell us about this event in his own words….
You cannot imagine the happiness of playing in the Partita del Cuore,(Match of the Heart) a Telethon for Charity on June 2, 2015 at Juventus Stadium. The stadium, in fact, made Ignazio happy more than anyone, because he is a huge Juventino (a big fan of Juventus). I was more excited about having been called up for the first time in the National singers and even more for being able to score. The match was against the team of Champions for research, all great sports champions and big names in the show, from Alex Del Piero to Pavel Nedved, from Jorge Lorenzo to Liam Gallagher of Oasis. What a dream it was! The stadium was full of people cheering crazy. My team was losing, when I came in, we were 3 to 4 and not being able to do anything, apart from shouting directions to my team-mates on the pitch, it made me feel even more strained. It’s like, I know how to play football, you see the others, think about what you would do for them and tell them. No, you scream it, otherwise they will not hear you. Ignazio and I shrieked like crazy to Piero, and then Piero and I shrieked like crazy to Ignazio, but ‘my legs are trembling’, I had to run, enter the pitch, I wanted to score. The coach made me enter in the 83rd minute. We were, as I said, under a goal, but I do not like losing football. So, I took the ball and I scored. What magic! The stadium was screaming, the guys ran to hug me, it was almost like winning the Sanremo Festival again.”
Now I will give you my take on the game! Certainly, we have to be proud of Gianluca for scoring a goal but, did you expect that he wouldn’t? And Ignazio made the sportscasters work for their money. They never expected him to be so good. This goes back to what I’ve said many times, Italy you should pay more attention to these guys! Now, before I go on about Piero, who I think was the hero of the game, I would like to tell you something about the man Piero went up against Alessandro Del Piero.
Alex Del Piero is widely regarded as one of the greatest soccer players of his generation, and as one of the best Italian players of all times. In 1993 he joined Juventus, where he played for 19 seasons (11 as captain), and holds the club records for most goals (290) and appearances (705).
It’s been said that “Alessandro Del Piero was the symbol of the club for many years.” “He always comes to the training field with a smile for everyone, a comforting word for everyone. This is his greatness: humbleness… he’s a golden person.” A lot like our guys!
Upon retirement, Del Piero refused the board’s offer to retire the No. 10 shirt in his honor, saying: “I’ve really had so much that I would never want it to be retired, this way, every child can dream one day of wearing it.”
Earlier this year, Del Piero joined ESPN. Del Piero commented, “I am super excited about joining the ESPN FC roster. I’ve watched how fast the USA fan base for soccer has grown over the past five years, the emergence of terrific young American players and the ever-growing popularity of the game among fans.”
In addition to his role with ESPN, Del Piero will continue as a pundit with Sky Sports Italia. Del Piero is also a highly successful entrepreneur. He currently resides in Los Angeles where he opened a world class Italian restaurant named No. 10, representing his jersey number as well as owning a professional development soccer team, named LA10 FC and is a co-founder of EDGE Americas Sports.
So back to Piero! So here our Piero decides he is going to take on Del Piero. He played so well that when he went up against Del Piero he surprised everyone with his moves. Especially the guys! You could tell Del Piero was enjoying the game as much as the guys! He was hysterical laughing when Piero took him on! I don’t think he expected it! You need to know that Del Piero has a wonderful sense of humor. He can be very funny.
End result….by his actions in the game, Piero became, in my opinion, the hero of the game, and so the final score is ….
Soccer – 3
Piero you made us and the guys very proud by your performance!
Join me next week as I go back Through the Fields of My Mind and open the door to a new adventure!
In my story today I am taking you back to the very beginning! I want to tell you a little something about the guys in their early years. I will be using excerpt from the book the guys wrote and various interviews they did about the book. This is just a small piece of each man’s story.
We begin by journeying back to Naro, Bologna and Montepagano where it all began, to meet, our guys as little children.
The stories are very sweet and sometimes very sensitive. I found myself in tears reading the beautiful accounts of their special lives. In one of the stories, I had to stop reading and take a breath because it was like I was reading my own story. I had experienced the same thing in my life and I understood where he was coming from and I felt his pain in my heart with every word he spoke! I’ve been there!
In some way I have a connection to each of these guys. In Gianluca’s case we are connected by country, my maternal grandparents where from Abruzzi but the beach we visited when we were in Abruzzi was Pescara. My connection with Piero is his family. He came from the same kind of family I did. Dinners with the entire family and summers in the countryside. As for Ignazio I have an emotional attachment to him. Ignazio sings with passion and, I write with passion. Many people have said when I write about Ignazio I write with the same passion as he has when he sings. I think this is because we are both very sensitive and we are alike in many ways. We have many of the same traits!
Let me begin by saying each one of the guys is unique in how he presents his story. Piero and Gianluca dictated their stories but, Ignazio chose to write his story. He has a writing technique very similar to mine. When he writes he speaks directly to the reader! He comes in and out of the story speaking to the reader and asking questions. He is an excellent writer.
Piero is a great storyteller! In his stories he recalls every detail. He makes you feel like you’re a part of his story. When the story is over you know the event as it happened and there is nothing more for you to know. He’s told it all! He is very serious and emotional when he speaks about his childhood and his family.
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.
So, without further ado, let’s begin with….
All of what is said here was said by Ignazio in his story. I did not change the thoughts or feelings of Ignazio or any of the guys in any of their stories. All the Italics are their own words. You might say I’m relating the story as seen through my eyes. Ignazio as the narrator gives you the facts and I follow him by giving you information that is important to the story.
This is a very, sensitive and sincere story!
“If a life is a story and, if every story needs someone to tell it, here I am to tell you mine, all of it from the beginning.” ~ Ignazio Boschetto
My story is not a fictional story even if it seems to be one of those dreams that you never want to wake up from. My story is sincere. It is the story of my life just as I experienced it before Il Volo and inside Il Volo.
My flight (every reference is purely coincidental) starts with a Christmas Letter.
It seems Ignazio’s mother, Caterina, and his father, Vito, were thinking about expanding their family. It is Christmas time 1993. Ignazio’s sister Antonia, who everyone calls Nina, is at school and the children are told to write a letter to Santa and the Baby Jesus. What Nina writes is a miracle and the beginning of one of the most beautiful and sincere relationships between a brother and sister. Nina, 7 years old, writes:
Dear Santa and Baby Jesus,
I do not want any presents for Christmas. Give my gifts to poor children. I want a baby brother for Christmas.
Ignazio continues, Said and done!
Shortly after New Year’s Caterina discovers she is pregnant. When Nina is told she wants to confirm that her wish has come true. Nina asks her mother if she can join her for her ultrasound. During the checkup, Nina asks the doctor, “May I know what it is?”
“What do you want, honey?” the doctor asks.
“I want a little brother.”
“Then come, I’ll show you the string bean.”
Nina’s first wish is granted but her second wish, not exactly! Nina wants her brother to be born on October 1st, her birthday. It seems Ignazio had another idea.
My name is Ignazio Boschetto. I was born on October 4th, 1994 in Bologna, Italy.
No, I didn’t make it for Nina’s birthday. I was wrong. What can I tell you? When they brought me home, I was better than any doll to Nina. Everyone was happy but soon, there are some worries. During the first visit, the doctor found that I had a strange kidney malfunction. After several checkups, they found I was born with a single kidney, but the one kidney I had was larger than normal and it works as if it were two kidneys.
And, as if that wasn’t enough, I was born with the squint of Venus, but I was fine, a Bolognese, brand new. The truth is, I could have been born Sicilian – Sienese. How would you see me with a Tuscan accent?
Ignazio continues his story always keeping in mind that his life is possible because of the sacrifices of his parents.
Is it the same if the images that I will never forget are … the memories of my parents? It’s not that I’m crazy or strange, it’s right that my story would never have existed without my parents.
In 1990, Ignazio’s parents made the decision to leave Marsala. They left with the hope of a better life for their family. As Ignazio says, “The family they had only begun to create.” Within a few years they managed to achieve economic stability and were able move into a house. Ignazio says, “The house was very small, but it was my first house, the one in which I was born.”
Of all the houses I lived in, one particular address remains in my mind: Via Marconi 94 in Molinella. It was a big and very beautiful house. We moved there just before I started elementary school. I do not remember the first day of school, but I certainly did not take long to get noticed. If you’re thinking of scenes of me being put in the middle of the class to sing, forget it. I had a passion for music but, I had an even greater passion for pranks. I tell you, since I started talking and walking, mine was an escalation of agitation. But it was official I was not the most mischievous in class that would be my friend Nicholas. I was second.
Now I would not want you to get the wrong idea of me as a child. A saint I was not, mind you, but thinking about it now if I was mischievous at school, maybe there was a reason.
In 1998, when Ignazio was four years old his mom was diagnosed with facial cancer. For a child of Ignazio’s age, it was hard to understand what was happening.
Mom did something she always did with us, for as long as I can remember, she explained the situation to us, speaking openly. This is a great merit that I must acknowledge about my family, but perhaps a little more to mom, because the fact of speaking clearly with us children and telling us the truth about things that affected our family and life in general taught us to face up to early adult conversations.
Now, I’m going to step out of the story because there are no words that I can say that will express the emotion and the sensitivity of Ignazio words.
I do not even have to tell you that since my mother’s conversation, my life has changed. I was small, but I could not afford to think like the other children of my age. As for my sister the situation was even more complicated because since 1998, the year of our mother’s first hospitalization, until 2003, the year when all the bad story is over, my mother has become Nina. For the first two years of elementary school, I have not often seen mom, a little because I went to school, a little because she had to return frequently to the hospital and stay there for long periods. Dad worked and my sister, despite her twelve years, had to be a housewife. She has become my biggest reference point. We had to grow both of us very quickly, without thinking about toys and different entertainment, and not so to speak, but really. The truth is that we were not interested in anything that usually affects two children of that age, because the only thing we wanted was to have mom at home.
It is difficult to say what was the worst moment because her absence was always felt. For sure, however, I was particularly impressed by a quarrel with my sister. I was four and she was twelve and I was playing with a toy, she was fed up because I made noise, she took the toy and, we had a fight. After responding badly to her, I immediately repented. For me Nina was very important, really like a mother. In the end I did not sleep for a week. But I never told her, at least until now.
After five surgeries and one hundred and fifty points in the face, mom has returned home. Too bad they did not leave me much time to enjoy her. I wanted to sit her on the sofa and, I wanted all the kisses, hugs and everything I haven’t had in those years. Mom is mine and woe to those who touch her! And instead, a few years earlier, mom had started working in a pizzeria and, not even the time to leave the hospital, she rightly started working again. What could I do?
Let’s move on to Montepagano!
With Gianluca, everything is about passion! Actually, four passions! Family, Country, Music, Soccer! Not necessarily in that order! He takes his passion for Abruzzo around the world. On tour he always speaks about Abruzzo. He loves his country and, he wants others to love it too!
My name is Gianluca Ginoble. I was born on February 11th, 1995 at the Atri hospital.
“I am from the town of Montepagano, Abruzzo. 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.” ~ Gianluca Ginoble
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.
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.
Dad, Ercole and mom, Eleanora realized that I had something special in my voice when I started to sing at the age of three or four years. They tell me, when I was three years old, I sang ‘O Sole Mio’ in the town square in front of all the elderly gentlemen friends of my grandfather who were sitting around in the square.
This was Gianluca’s first audience but, of course he doesn’t remember it.
Because Eleanora worked, Gianluca 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.
Are you wondering why I suddenly sang ‘Time to Say Goodbye?’ The answer is simple: because it made me feel good. Usually, I would sing at home or in situations where I felt protected as if I were at home. I did not care to make myself heard by others. It also happened that at school the teacher knew my particular voice and she would make me sing in the classroom. “Gianluca, let us hear your voice, guys, let’s listen to Gianluca sing.” Do you know how I reacted? I sang, of course, because it was the teacher who asked, but first I went to hide behind the blackboard and put myself face to the wall. I was ashamed to die. I still remember that feeling of being hidden, while I sang, without seeing anyone. Also, because I was already singing with this voice that tended to the baritone, it was really special. I understood that it was a beautiful thing, which everyone liked, but I was still ashamed. Dad says I also did it at home to turn my face to the wall while I was singing. What could I do? I was very shy and a little insecure.
But now, the shyness is over. Gianluca considered this a defect when he was a child but now, he has overcome the shyness. What hasn’t changed is the constant need for confirmation. On social networks, you see his selfies and people think he is vain, but in reality, he needs constant fan approval. He needs to know that they support him. Gianluca has been this way since he was a child. He always needed reassurances. If he only knew how much his fans love him, he would need no reassurances!
Time to move on to Naro.
Let’s join Piero in the courtyard of the town square of Naro.
The heat of the day has passed, the time of rest is over and it’s time for people to come out into the square. On the bench nearby are old men. Piero is playing soccer with his friends. They are playing with his SUPER TELE (a plastic football). The ball flies off in the direction of the old men and they shout, “Slow with the ball or we will cut it.” The old men frighten Piero with their threat.
My name is Piero Barone. I was born on June 24th, 1993 in the Sicilian city of Naro.
(Francesco and Piero Barone)
What can I tell you about Naro? For me, it is the most beautiful city in the world! There are dozens of baroque churches and above the city the Chiaramonte castle. Below the castle is the beautiful Valle del Paradiso with its green pastures and the green sea that separates Naro from the real sea… and there’s the Spring Festival Narese!
I would gather with my friends in the afternoon and usually we played until ten in the evening but there was always the fear that the old men would pierce the ball.
Five or six years have passed since the old men scared me. The old men are still on the bench but now when they see me, they come to meet me, to greet me. Before, they scared me, and now they hug me and have that look of being proud and moved. It’s too strong for me! Yet, I still can’t explain why I become ‘weak inside’ when I see them.
“The truth is, I’m still that kid with his SUPER TELE.” ~ Piero Barone
For Piero life is all about Naro and the family and his fondest memories are of his childhood and his family….
I think it is an effort to remember when we were young. We were young the day before yesterday. In fact, all three of us, feel that time has run too fast. Yesterday we were children, and, in a moment, we found ourselves grown up with a great job to carry on. It’s the most beautiful job in the world, what we dreamed and desired, but the truth is that none of us really imagined what would happen.
I remember in detail the years from one to fourteen…. I recall for a few months, during the summer, when I was nine years old, I went to work in my father’s body shop but because I had bad allergies and asthma I was not able to deal with the paints and powders so, the decision was made that I would go to work in my uncle Angelo’s (my mother’s brother) mechanic shop which was just in front of my father’s shop. I clearly recall, at half past ten, on time, my uncle gave me two euros and I went to buy a sandwich at the supermarket. The sandwich was ham and provolone. ‘How good was that sandwich!’
What I’ve done in the last five or six years, I tend to forget. Not because I’m not happy to have done it, on the contrary, I am, very, happy. It’s to have the life I have and have a dream come true: living with music was all I wanted.
When I was a child, I visited my father’s body shop. The shop was, very, big and was full of cars and lots of noise. This was my “first stage.” I was not yet four years old, and I was starting to sing. My father lifted me up and placed me on the hood of a car that was jacked up and I immediately began to sing. The people in front of the shop looked out. Slowly one after another, they came out. I remember them, they stood there listening to me, their heads popping out of the door and, I sang and, it was the most natural thing in the world for me!
But what remains in Piero’s heart is what he calls the “campaign” of his grandparents.
How do I explain this campaign? I think “campaign” and I think “family” a couple that cannot be divided.
Piero compares this campaign to his mother, Elenora, and his father, Gaetano. He sees their marriage as an example of love that he hopes to one day share with someone. Piero says,
I want someone with whom I can carry on that love that is so great even in times of difficulty.
And part of that love, Piero explains, comes from the closeness of his family.
I am proud to say mine is a real Sicilian family, one of those that on Sundays reunites at the grand house, the grandparents’ house. Together we are mom and dad with me and my brother and my sister, my grandfather, my grandmother and my uncle, my great-grandmother, my grandmother’s sister, her husband and their three children, who are the same age as us and for me they are like another brother and two other sisters.And there were great lunches from the first to the sweets, things so good that you cannot even imagine them. And the saga continues, when summer arrives and, everyone moves to the countryside.
Piero’s fondly remembers a family tradition…
I could not wait for it to be Saturday morning when we lit the wood burning oven. I went to collect wood around the ground, I helped to light the fire, and I helped to take out the pizza. In addition to pizza, we did “u pani impurnatu”, which is bread baked in the oven. How good it was! It kept that good taste all week. The week passed and the next Saturday we started over again. The bread was beautiful, warm and fragrant. We also made the “impanate”, which are rolls of pizza dough with vegetables inside, a typical dish of my area. In short, I ate a lot of good things and, it was visible (I was really fat).
We have now met the guys at the very beginning of their lives. What have we learned from each boy? We learned they come from very simple, very humble families. Hard working families. Not unlike the other children they grew up with. Their days were spent playing, being mischievous and singing on impulse. The one thing everyone comes back to in their story is their music. Piero tells us living with music was all he wanted. Ignazio tells us between the mischief, there was always the passion for music. And Gianluca says he sang because it made him feel good.
It seems for these young men not much has changed over the years. In the Beginning There was Music and not much has changed over the years except that now they share it with us!
Join me next week as I go back Through the Fields of My Mind and open the door to a new adventure!
Over the past week I have been thinking about where it all began for the guys. As you know, I have written excerpts from their story but, I thought it might be nice for some of the new fans to hear about where it all began for the guys. Three different stories but all with the same ending! This is the story of how they were discovered and of course their journey to Ti Lascio una Canzone.
Piero: The Beginning of the Journey
Most of you know that Piero was discovered by his grandfather. In the garden of his grandparents’ house there is a mulberry tree and hanging on that tree is an old-fashioned swing. Piero was swinging on that swing when his grandfather heard him sing for the first time! He was about four years old at the time. The following day Pietro had a recording made of Piero singing “Un Amore Così Grande.”
The evening of the recording would be the beginning of Piero’sjourney to stardom. As always, Piero’s entire family ate dinner together. The family consisted of his great grandmother, all the aunts, uncles and cousins who were like sisters and brothers to him. After dinner all the kids played soccer while the adults went outside to chat and enjoy the cool of the evening on the terrace. But this evening would be a little different because just one day earlier, Piero’s grandfather Pietro discovered that Piero had an amazing voice.
They had just finished dinner when *Pietro called his wife. “Rina, get the recorder.” Rina brought in the recorder and placed it in front of Pietro. The recorder was already prepared with the cassette that had the recording of Piero’s voice. Pietro turns to Piero’s dad and says, “Listen to this voice, Gaetano.” He pushes play and starts the recording of “Un Amore Così Grande.” Gaetano is amazed like he has just heard a good thing, and he says, “It’s beautiful, who is it daddy?” (He calls his father-in-law daddy.) Pietro says, “Piero.” Silence. Gaetano has a questioning looking on his face “How did Piero?” Pietro says, “So?”
On that night Piero’s life changed! His father did everything he could think of to start him on a musical journey. He wanted Piero to start the festivals but, he was too young. He needed to “put in a base” because the voice alone was not enough. Gaetano asked himself: “What must Piero start to do?” And the answer was: “Piero must start playing the piano”.
Piero began to study piano at the age of eight but, economically the family could not afford the costs of the lessons. So, Piero’s grandfather paid for everything, and not just from the material point of view. Stefano Tesè was Piero’s first piano teacher. The mother of Piero’s teacher lived on the floor below in his grandfather’s house and the master came to see his mother every Monday. Pietro made an agreement with Mr. Tesè to give Piero lessons every Monday at six o’clock.
Piero says, “The road was very short to my grandfather’s house, I could even go there alone, but here was the problem, to get there I had to face a dog that was going around in that neighborhood, that dog would approach and bark furiously. And I had a fear of dogs. Squeezed under my grandfather’s arm, he who being blind needed to be guided, I felt protected as behind a shield: when the dog approached, Pietro shouted: “Passa arrassu!” (fast pass), go away, and the dog went away.”
Piero confesses there was another problem, “Every Monday at six in the afternoon was a nightmare for me, because I did not like going to the piano lesson. Or rather, I liked it only when the lessons were good, when I could play, but at the beginning I was bored a lot with the hammers, solfeggios and all the things that you rightly have to learn to play the piano. Maestro Tesè was a tough guy and, I was always worried that he would scold me. After a while I started to understand how the piano worked and the lessons started to please me.”
The advice everyone gave Piero was that he should join the choir that met in the church of Santo Spirito in Agrigento. Originally Gaetano objected to this saying they would “break my sons voice,” but, eventually he came to the reality that this was the right thing to do. And so it was that Piero joined the Little Singers of the Philharmonic Association – Santa Cecilia of Agrigento.
And so it was that Piero started his classical musical education that would end at Ti Lascio Una Canzone.
Of the three, Piero is the only one who said, “…. if there is one thing I want to do in life, it is singing, living for and with music.”
The original story I wrote about Piero’s beginnings I called **The Mulberry Tree because Piero was swinging on a swing which hung from a mulberry tree in his grandfather garden. Around the time of this event, I was at home in New York busy writing a screenplay. The name screenplay was “The Mulberry Tree!”
Ignazio: The Beginning of the Journey
In this story, Ignazio leaves his friends and his school in Bologna and starts all over again in Marsala. He fought this move every step of the way but this move would bring him to the start of his journey to stardom!All the What if’s, come into play! What if the family didn’t return to Marsala? What if Caterina didn’t open the pizzeria? What if that customer didn’t hear Ignazio sing? What if Ignazio decided not to take singing lessons? Ignazio’s story begins shortly after his arrival in Marsala
In 2004 there was a great change for Ignazio’s family. Ignazio’s mom had regained her health and finally the family was financially stable so, they returned to Marsala.
Ignazio’s story of the building of the pizzeria was so inspiring that I called my original story, “A Slice of Pizza with Ignazio on the Side.”
During the first year they were back in Marsala, Ignazio’s mom had gone back and forth every day to the center of Marsala to be able to secure her great dream: to open a pizzeria of her own. In order to open the pizzeria, she needed to do certain things. First thing: she had to get the permits and all the bureaucratic things that she needed to do. Second thing: she used the ovens of friends and made pizzas. Ignazio said: “I remember it very well. She went from one oven to another and tried so many types of flour, she tried the dough, she tried so many types of mozzarellas so, when she finally opened the pizzeria, she already knew how to prepare the right dough. It is different to make pizza in Bologna than making it in Marsala, take the word of a son and brother of a pizza maker: it is different because it depends on the humidity, the temperature and the type of flour. It’s not a simple matter to make a really good pizza.”
While Caterina was preparing permits and trying different kinds of pizza, it was left for the men to build the pizzeria. With the savings Vito accumulated over the years he began the work on the pizzeria. He was now working in a company that built wooden structures and being an experienced bricklayer, the dream could be realized, and the pizzeria could be built in front of the house.
Ignazio said: “For a whole year, in every free moment, my father dedicated himself to building the pizzeria for my mother and I loved to help him, so much so that when there were a few days of school vacation, I went to work with him.”
Ignazio continues; “You will think that I tell you about the pizzeria under construction, but I am not a pizza maker. Of course, if there had not been the pizzeria, perhaps I would never have started singing seriously.
While the pizzeria grew, a passion grew within me. It was a passion for electronics and music. I had started to be part of the elementary school choir and my dad, who was more passionate about electronics than me, had bought me a mixer, a microphone and two speakers, with which we started doing the easiest thing that could be done with those instruments: karaoke.”
Finally, in 2005 the pizzeria was completed and, Caterina opened the Pizzeria dei Desideri.
Within a few months Caterina already had regular customers and since the pizzeria was right in front of the house, when Ignazio was singing at home, even the customers heard him. One day a gentleman said to Caterina, ‘You know, my daughter is studying singing, why don’t you come with your son once? Even just to try.”
Ignazio said: “Like everything else, we talked it over within my family and everyone was enthusiastic about it. It was decided, I would go and see what these singing lessona were like.
I remember it as if it were yesterday! I was eleven. I wore a yellow shirt with green stripes, fashion was never my strong point. Arianna, the daughter of the pizzeria customer, who had heard me sing, and her mother and I waited, in front of the school for more than twenty minutes for Liliana Andreanò, the singing teacher.
Lilliana Adreanò, arrived in a grey Opel Astra. She got out of the car and immediately entered the school.
I was worried, almost embarrassed. Hard to believe, right? Even as a child I’ve never been the type to be speechless.
Lilliana begins to talk about music, what kind of songs do I like to sing. It was already a strange thing because usually I just sang, no one asked me why and how. You know, Liliana, I said, I like to sing Giorgia’s songs.”
Lilliana said: “Strange for a kid to sing this kind of song.” She asked, “And which song of Giorgia would you like to make me listen to?” “Gocce Di Memoria (Drops of Memory),” I said. “I didn’t even have a doubt. I start singing and Liliana was amazed by my extension but asks me to try a male song too.”
Ignazio thought a little bit and then he said he sometimes sang Con Te Partirò by Andrea Bocelli. He started singing and, when he finished Liliana told him: “Ignazio, this is your musical direction”.
From that first lesson Ignazio began to study songs like “Il Mare Calmo Della Sera,” “Un Amore Così Grande” and all those that came to mind, and he liked it. The songs approached that genre that was not lyrical, it was modern music but with something classic.
Ignazio was very comfortable with Lilliana and they understood each other immediately because she was a sociable person, simple, as are all of Ignazio’s family.
After several lessons, Lilliana proposed that Ignazio take part in a competition organized in Paolini. Ignazio wasn’t completely convinced that he wanted to go on a stage. Until that moment he had only thought about singing, but he never seriously thought that all his singing one day could bring him into the spotlight. In short, he was afraid. Fear of making mistakes. Fear of not being able to face the stage, but just to gain mastery on stage, Liliana urged him to participate, and so in the end he decided to do it.
Ignazio said: “I was about to get on the stage. My legs were trembling, the butterflies in my stomach were no longer butterflies but crazy swallows.
I decided to participate with Bocelli’s “Con te partirò” (Time to Say Goodbye), a song that I had studied and re-studied with Liliana, but as soon as the music started, I had a terrible fear of forgetting the words. So, what did I do? I looked down all the time. So, the audience, the place, what happened around me while I was singing, it’s not that I do not remember anything, I just do not know because I only saw the tips of my feet.
Fortunately, however, I remembered all the words and it is not so obvious because sometimes it happens that I forget the words even today now that I have become professional, the emotion continues to take us despite everything and.… I came in third.”
Once the ice was broken and the stage panic was over, that ended up being just the first of many competitions for Ignazio.
After two and a half years, three that he was studying with Liliana, one day Lilliana told him that for the genre that he was going to sing another teacher was better suited to give lyrical singing lessons. So, Ignazio was convinced and started to follow another singing teacher, Roberta Caly.
So now his life became complicated. He went to Lilliana for singing lessons and interpretation. He went to Roberta for lyric singing. And he took a diction course from Lilliana and Roberta. He also went to a diction course with Lilliana and a diction course with Roberta but taught by other teachers in the school. And he also attended a jazz workshop.
Ignazio went to class every day except Sunday when he went to see Nina’s soccer matches. Nina was now playing in Serie B.
Between the school, the singing lessons, the piano lessons and diction Ignazio was always busy, so much so that he was forced to leave the school of soccer.
Ignazio could not do everything because of the economic conditions of his family. At this time Ignazio found another thing to do: an extracurricular musical laboratory. Ignazio was so busy but, he did not want to give up that workshop, it was about setting up musicals. Ignazio said, “It was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life.”
In 2007, Ignazio stopped studying with Roberta. He met Giovanna Collica, a very good soprano, who gave lessons in Siracusa. Even though Giovanna was in Siracusa, which was a long journey from Ignazio’s home, she was too important to give up. She was a very good soprano, she had even sung a duet with Luciano Pavarotti.
Ignazio concludes, “It took a lot of money to cover the travel expenses, the lessons and the registration for competitions that in many cases were not free. So, it was at a certain point, mom and dad found themselves not having enough money to send me forward. They were more hurt than me. Having always worked and being accustomed to face sacrifices for the family, they did not want to surrender to this obstacle but at the same time they did not know what to do. In the end, it was necessary to make a decision. The decision was to ask a person dear to us for a loan that, as soon as mom and dad had settled a little, would be returned.
This person has helped us with great generosity, so as, to allow me to continue to pursue this dream.” Next stop Ti Lascio una Canzone!
Gianluca: The Beginning of the Journey
So, finally, we come to Gianluca. I must tell you Gianluca’s journey to stardomwas different from Ignazio and Piero. The end result was the same but, the beginnings were different. Gianluca says: “Yes, we were lucky all three to have the families we had. Ignazio and Piero were able to study music thanks to the sacrifices, big sacrifices, of their families. I’ve never studied it, if I have to tell the truth, but the music at home has always been there.
Mom and dad tell me, when I was three years old, I sang ‘O Sole Mio’ in the town square in front of all the elderly gentlemen friends of my grandfather who were sitting around in the square.”
This was the beginning of Gianluca’sjourney to stardom.
Gianluca says, when he sings, he “doesn’t forget instinct.” What does that mean? Gianluca has never studied singing. He learned to ‘use’ his voice only thanks to his musical ear. He listens to the music and, it transmits everything he knows. And, for this, he is especially thankful to the Little Choir of Roses.
When Gianluca was about eight or nine, all those who knew him gave him 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 situation, was Gianluca’s dad, Ercole.
The choir was nice because they studied the technique of singing, the songs. It was different, because they did not study the notes and how to do them, rather they studied instinctively, following what the teacher said and what their ear heard.
Gianluca said: “If I think of 2009, the year in which I met Piero and Ignazio at Ti Lascio Una Canzone, it seems to me like yesterday.
Ignazio’s story shows that things come and you do not have to force them to arrive. It is not different from mine. Maybe, a little bit different because, apart from the Little Choir of Roses and those modest performances with my father’s theater company, I’ve never done anything else, no competitions, no festivals. I did not want to do them, I never thought about it.”
Gianluca participated in the Festival of the Adriatic, in 2006, and he won it. In 2007 he participated in Ascoli Piceno, for young talents. He sang at weddings, that’s it. He recalls, “I sang Schubert’s ‘Ave Maria’ and they paid me. My first money earned with music. And for fun, in 2007 I recorded a CD in a studio in Roseto degli Abruzzi, it was called “Start from Here.” It was a study by Vincenzo Irelli, a very good musician.” Verilli heard Gianluca sing, probably in one of the Little Rose Choir’s performances, and he said to Mr. Ginoble, “Bring him to me.” Gianluca recalls, “We spent a couple of weeks recording the CD and then we gave it to all the relatives. If I think about it today, it makes me smile. Never, never would I have thought that it would not be the only one, that I could make music my life. I tell you I only sang because it made me feel good, I was happy.”
Then what happened? In his story, Gianluca said: ‘I do not know exactly, what happened, because everything happened very quickly. If I think of 2009, the year in which I met Piero and Ignazio, it seems like yesterday. Instead, six years have passed. To tell you the truth, seven years passed from the casting sessions because it was 2008 when my father received a call from Licia Giunco.
Who is Licia Giunco. She’s an incredible woman, known throughout Italy for being the creator of an annual event called Sport for life, a great international ice-skating gala. For the gala, skating champions come from all over Europe to participate. The reason for Mrs. Giunco’s phone call was Gianluca’s performances with the choir. “We have a great talent here in Roseto,” Mrs. Guinco told Mr. Ginoble. “I would like to bring him to RAI (Italian TV Station).” Gianluca says, “My father had never thought about it. My parents had never even imagined that I would participate in competitions, let alone send me for an audition for television.”
“Let’s try,” Mr. Ginoble replied, “It would be a great opportunity.” “Dad thought it was just a different experience something that could make me have fun. Mrs. Giunco made available her contacts, we talked to Franco Fasano, whom Licia knew, and he would take us to audition with Roberto Cenci for the broadcast of RAI. Maybe this is what I liked, the idea that it was only a life experience to do, an experience that would allow me to sing for a while. My parents, as they had always been until then, did not force me in the least. They left the decision to me. I had not the slightest idea of what awaited me, but I decided instinctively, with my belly, that yes, that audition I really wanted to do it.
At the studio, when they called my name, I entered the recording room. Roberto Cenci was there. It was the first time I saw him. The impact was big because he has a very tough character and, he did not convey much sympathy at the first meeting. But the essential thing is that I start to sing: I wanted to be a little alone to think, you know. I had chosen ‘The Voice of Silence.’ I remember it perfectly. I was thirteen, the first audition was in November 2008 and, I already had this deep, baritone voice.”
And so, we have arrived at “Ti Lascio una Canzone.”
These were the guys’ beginnings, but the real beginning was when they stepped on the stage and sang “O Sole Mio,” and began their real Journey to Stardom.
Join me next week as I go back Through the Fields of My Mind and open the door to a new adventure!