Tag Archives: We Are the World 25 for Haiti

Conquering America

Six years after the guys were put together on Ti Lascio una Canzone, they wrote a book, Il Volo, Un’avventura Straordinaria, La nostra Storia, (An Extraordinary Adventure, Our History) and what an extraordinary adventure it was.
In their many interviews, they talked about the book and their lives in the beginning of their career and we begin to see how they interact with one another to form a powerful team. From a very young age they were very intelligent and, they were always courteous. They always had the right answer at the right time! This is a big achievement for such young boys who were thrown together into an adults’ world without any way of knowing what to expect. This says a lot about their integrity. In this story we meet three amazing young men who achieved in their teenage years what most adults could not achieve in a lifetime!
Reading through the stories, I can see how the boys begin to bond with one another. We all have our good days and our bad days but, at the end of the day they have what’s most important, “each other.”

Left to right: Gianluca, Ignazio and Piero singing on stage

What we also see in their story is how they begin to bond with the American people. From their first performance on TV on American Idol, they took America by storm. Every TV Show wanted them as guests. After the show they hit the top 10 on the “Billboard” charts. They were on the ride of their lives and, they didn’t even know it! So, let’s join Piero now as he tells us what it was like for him after six years with the guys.
Piero begins…
“But can you think about how far we’ve come? We did not even know each other and now we have been working together for six years, we toast together, we cry together. By now Gianluca and Ignazio, but let’s not let them know, they are a part of me, I do not know how I could do without them.
I’ll make you understand one thing: when I’m on stage singing my solo, as soon as I finish, I cannot wait for the other two to come because I feel their moral, psychological and even physical support. If I feel bad, I know that there are two of them that can help me, we can help each other, and this is fundamental for me, to feel that we support each other, that we are always together.”
Ignazio picks up the story…
“It was the beginning of 2010, our first time overseas. Destination Miami! What charm America! Everything was so different from Italy: the cars were different, the streets, the houses. I felt like I was in another world.
Immediately after Miami we went to Los Angeles. My first word? ‘Wow!’ Which was also what I said when I entered my room in one of the best hotels in the city, the InterContinental of Century City.

Left to right: A young Ignazio, Piero and Gianluca

We were only three kids accompanied by our parents. We still did not know each other well. At the beginning I immediately started to connect with Piero. Perhaps because he is Sicilian like me and maybe because we always found the opportunity to make jokes and have fun. We especially enjoyed ourselves when we tried to make ourselves understood by people, since we spoke few words of English.
But what were we doing in Los Angeles? We stayed there a week during which we were lucky enough to be part of the ‘We Are the World 25 for Haiti’ with eighty of the most famous music stars in the world including Celine Dion, Lionel Richie, Santana and many others. After 25 years we all gathered together for ‘We Are the World 25 for Haiti’ to collect funds for the earthquake victims of January 12th, 2010.

Ignazio, Gianluca and Piero in front of the We Are The World

It was the first week of February 2010, Quincy Jones had invited us, the myth Quincy Jones, the one who worked with Ray Charles, one of the artists who made history through international music. In short, that was our first truly, great, exciting experience: who could ever imagine that one day I could find myself among those people in such a context.
After the week and back to Italy. The difference between Italy and the United States we saw immediately: they were more advanced, more ahead!”
Piero recalls their meeting with Quincy Jones…
“I remember meeting with Quincy Jones when he came to ‘We Are the World 25 for Haiti:’ an eighty-year-old crazy character in Converse.
That time we just showed up, but three years later he came to one of our concerts and we had the chance to talk. Okay, you imagine being with Quincy Jones, the Quincy Jones who worked with Count Basie, Ray Charles, Dizzy Gillespie and Michael Jackson. Here, what are you talking about? Music?
We were fifteen to sixteen when we found ourselves in this American dream. We had signed a contract with a record company that includes famous artists like Beyoncé and many others. We were invited by the record company to the party. We turned and saw, again, Quincy Jones; we turn around and we saw Rihanna; we turned and shook hands with Lady Gaga. We talked with them, some singers who were idols for us and for our peers.
I never forget the meeting with Puff Daddy, he shook my hand and told me: ‘Guys, welcome to our family.’ You see, now that I’m telling you, I’m shivering because I never said it, but Puff Daddy says ‘Guys, welcome to our family.’ Then I sent a message to my friends in Naro, ‘Today I was with Beyoncé, today I met Puff Daddy.’ And they did not even believe it. They only believed a little bit if we sent the photos. But they did not really understand what was happening in our lives.

IL VOLO with stars during the "We Are the World" event

In fact, we only began to understand that something was changing when our first record came out.”
So, the guys have met all the big names and performed with them in We Are the World, but reality has not yet set in. Let’s hear what Ignazio has to say about this….
“It was already May 2010 and the Il Volo album was about to come out all over the world. Maybe I was too small and naive but I did not feel the anxiety of the job, unlike today. The first major television show we appeared in, in America, was American Idol, the world’s most famous music talent show. There, yes that….…”
Piero interrupts….
“American Idol? I remember the first fitting we did with the clothes, the dress rehearsal, in short. We found ourselves in the dressing rooms with all these clothes, we did not know where to look, glasses, bracelets, we touched everything, the stylists all around you. We still have those clothes. I personally will never throw them away.”
Gianluca interrupts Piero….
“Then they say I am the vain one! Yes, I remember the clothes, the stylists, it was the first time, a crazy feeling. But most of all I remember the face of Jennifer Lopez when Steven Tyler gave five to Ignazio, live with thirty million viewers. Oh not, Igna?”
Ignazio recalls that crazy moment….
“I had a crazy fright in front of Jennifer Lopez, Steven Tyler and Randy Jackson and millions of Americans watching us from home. We sang ‘O Sole Mio,’ live and, while singing, I do not know how it came to me: I casually approached and gave five to Steven Tyler in the studio and took a delirium, all standing!

And a few days later we realized that people at home were ecstatic: The week after the broadcast we were listed in the top 10 of “Billboard” the most important internationally recognized music reviewer. A goal that only a few Italian artists have achieved. Not bad for boys of only sixteen. After that great success, all the American television networks wanted us on their show. And slowly also in many other countries in the world.
In a few months I found myself having traveled the world, from Europe to the Americas, from Asia to Oceania. From 2010 to 2013 we traveled like crazy, without ever stopping. In three years, I have not been home for five months. So much so that the rest of my family were upset. Sometimes I traveled with my mother, sometimes with my father, and I never saw my sister. The first discussions had begun for those who were to accompany me, not because they wanted to travel the world, but because my mother did not want to stay away from her son, who until a few months before had an almost normal life, apart from the thousand daily whims.

Left to right: A young Piero, Ignazio and Gianluca

The release of the album, the pre-sales of the American, Latin American and European tour, were good but not Italy because the Italian promoters were not very enthusiastic about our work. We were very sorry but, we conspired with the fact that Michele, our manager, had lived the exact same thing with Andrea Bocelli and said: ‘Wait, boys, one day they will notice.’
So, the concerts are approaching around the world, but who had ever done one? I had only an experience on June 24th, 2009, on returning home from Ti Lascio Una Canzone I had a concert in Marsala, fifteen thousand people were waiting for me in the square, I will not tell you the fear I had, so much that I sang the wrong words to the first song! But now I was not alone for a single evening but, there were many concerts to divide spaces, remember movements and various choreographies. Luckily there was Luca Tommasini, a dancer and choreographer who was part of Madonna’s dance group, Michael Jackson, Diana Ross. Prince, Whitney Houston, just to name a few. He was a great help and we had fun around the Americas and Europe.
The concerts were fine, many were sold out. We started on that first tour in 2010 in spaces from one thousand five hundred to two thousand seats to the maximum until arriving in 2013 from five thousand to ten thousand places. The girls shouting at all the concerts, the hotels, the airports always full of fans, we walked with bodyguards.
The record was going well, and many people in the show were noticing us. One day Michele calls us: ‘Barbra Streisand’s manager called me.’”
Piero, who was in charge of recording all the dates and events and signing contracts, recalls…
“We were in Atlantic City, in my suite, and who comes in our American partner, Michael’s right-hand man, with a contract.
‘What is that?’ I ask him.
‘The contract to sign with Barbara.’
I knew that there was a project with her, but being on tour, I could not keep in touch every day with Torpedine, so I did not know that the thing had come to past. And it was a really big thing: Barbra Streisand wanted us on tour with her, not as an opening, but as an integral part of the show.
The tour, which was called Back to Brooklyn, was the first that Streisand made between the United States and Canada since 1994. It opened on, October 4th, 2012, in Philadelphia and closed on November 11th in Los Angeles, passing through New York, Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver, La Vegas, Chicago. Can you imagine what it meant? And we sing with her!

IL VOLO singing with Barbara Streisand

So, I signed the contract, but the most anticipated thing was the meeting with her. Because Barbra is a diva, all speak of Barbra with so much desire. And to find yourself face to face with a person who has made history of international music, known all over the world, who is seventy years old and still has twenty thousand people every single evening, is incredible!
And the meeting was surreal because it is absurd to find yourself talking to her about your hair, where you go to cut your hair and trivial things, it does not seem possible!
The fact is, however, that I am not one who dreams so much, I do not live above the clouds. I may not seem modest, but yes, I did a duet with Barbra Streisand, but when I finished the show, I called Torpedine and I said, ‘What are we doing tomorrow?’ ”
Ignazio continues….
“How much do you run, Piero! I’m still at Michele’s first call and you’ve already finished the tour?
When our manager gave us confirmation of our participation in the tour after a few days of negotiation, we did not know what to say or what to do. Personally, I knew of Barbara Streisand, but I wanted to know more, so I watched Funny Girl, the first film she shot and with which she won the Oscar for the best actress in 1969. After watching that musical-film I was fascinated and excited a thousand times more to be part of the tour of the artist who had made me dream only through a screen. I did not even want to imagine what it would feel like the day I would find myself on the same stage as her.
The first concert with her was in Philadelphia on October 4th, 2012, the day of my birthday, so you can imagine what a birthday I would have. It was nice and exciting to hear her singing close to me.

Left to right: Gianluca, Barbara Streisand, Piero and Ignazio

When I arrived at the sound check, before the concert, I do not know what happened but, I started thinking about everything we had done in the years before, how much gratitude the boys and I had for Michele who had never left us since the first day. We were sharing the stage with one of the greatest living legends.
They are difficult emotions to explain!”
Gianluca throughout the book and his interviews is led by his passions and emotions, much as he is in his everyday life where family, music, country and soccer, are his greatest passions.  Here Gianluca picks up on Ignazio’s emotions and continues the story….
“In my case, if possible, it is even more difficult because the thrill of singing with Barbra Streisand has added to the excitement of singing in front of my grandfather. Imagine the Barclays Center in New York, a huge sports arena full, bursting of people. The capacity is around fifteen thousand places, but that evening was so full of people it seemed to me to be twenty-five thousand. The darkness all around and then the lights suddenly, the audience roar, the music, the concert.
And what did I see in all this? I saw only my grandfather in the middle of the Barclays Center who greeted me by hand. It was the best image of that tour, for me, a kind of film, yes, in a film it would have been really good!
I did not believe it, the more I looked at it and the less I believed it. It was weird, my grandfather at one of my concerts with Barbra Streisand in New York. I have always seen him in the square in the village, it seemed a mirage to see him there.
He made me like this with his hand (a wave) and he was crying. And I was just looking at him, singing ‘Smile’ and watching only him.

Worse was when I just moved my gaze and I saw my father sitting next to him. And he cried too.
That time on stage I could not let myself go, but then I ‘recovered’ during our first European tour, the year after.
My grandfather worked in Switzerland for many years, in fact my father was born there in the sixties, so he could not wait to go back to northern Europe. So, what did he do? He came to Frankfurt with my mother on the plane.
We land, we go out of the baggage area, I turn the corner and open a door. There is a video that is made of me, I have a face. Behind that door was my grandfather waiting for me. Yes, I started crying. And so, for me, the grandfather is the grandfather, woe to those who touch him. And it is love, not affection.
However, of the tour with Streisand, I also recollect the amazement that took us every night after the concert. Why? Because she received crazy visits in the dressing room! In Los Angeles, just to give you an idea, they came to greet her – and we met them! – Sting and Tom Hanks.
What a fantastic tour it was!”
Can you imagine these three young guys living this adventure? I get chills listening to them talk about it. They are so innocent they don’t even know how to react at times.
Piero is so humbled by coming face to face with a person who has made history in international music.
Ignazio is speechless he can’t even express his emotions!
And Gianluca is so astonished by the event at the Barclay theater he can only focus on what is closest to his heart, his family, and the fact that he is sharing this experience with them.
You know what I love most about this story? The fact that they are so in awe of the entertainers around them. Kind of like we are in awe when we are in their company! That is emotional for me! What these people did to them, the emotions they felt, is so like our emotions for them, our feeling that we walk with great people. Our wonderful guys!
In the story they speak like they want to reach out and touch the people around them but, they can’t even wrap their heads around what’s going on! Who could imagine that these three young boys who stepped off the stage of Ti Lascio una Canzone would travel around the world, join renowned singers and, immediately become a part of an industry which, in reality, is so hard to break into? Yes, it was La Forza del Destino (The Force of Destiny) that led them to America.

Left to right: Gianluca, Piero and Ignazio singing on stage   Left to right: Closeup of Ignazio, Piero and Gianluca singing on stage   Left to right: Gianluca, Piero and Ignazio singing on stage

Piero, Gianluca and Ignazio sings on stage  Left to right: Gianluca, Ignazio and Piero singing on stage  

They were in the first steps of their career and, they were already Conquering America! What an amazing achievement!
Join me next week as I go back Through the Fields of My Mind and open the door to a new adventure!
If you would like to share a story with me, please email:  susan.flightcrew@yahoo.com
To read more Il Volo stories visit us at www.ilvoloflightcrw.com
*Quotes are excerpts from Il Volo, Un’avventura straordinaria, La nostra storia, various TV interviews and news media.
The photos from the 2013 RCMH concert were courtesy of Judy Thurman’s personal collection.

 

Credit to owners of all photos and videos.