Giorgia Fumanti Interview
By: Dennis M. Kelly
DK: First of all, I would like to thank you for taking the time to answer these questions for us today.
You released your second album entitled “From My Heart” in March of this year, how do you feel it compares to your first album “Like a Dream”?
GF: From My Heart is an album full of Heart! My voice is more mature as I am and we had the chance to work with wonderful musicians and a full orchestra, so the production is bigger compared to Like a Dream. I am very proud of my first album too; it is more simple but very sensitive and full of pure intentions.
DK: How did you approach this album in regards to the contributors, and composers, etc?
GF: I approached this album with a lot of respect of myself and of the audience that will listen to the album. I chose all the songs with my heart and I wanted to have a very true sound so I asked to record my voice very naturally so the people that will listen can have the impression that me and the orchestra are performing in front of them.
For me to record an album is a magic time when you keep a special moment for eternity. I love the idea that right now people in the USA, Japan, Canada, Mexico, South Africa, Italy, China, Taiwan, Korea and South East Asia can share that moment that I recorded to help them to relax, to cry or to sleep! This is pure magic and through music, all hearts can share together that magic. I was lucky to have a producer and all the people around me that respected my intentions.
DK: Everyone tends to be their own worst critic, so, how satisfied are you with the album?
GF: Normally I am very hard on myself and I hope to become more gentle, but I am very satisfied with my albums because I know that I did my best to be true with myself and with my audience in the moment that I recorded it. The most important part for me is to transpose the true feelings that I feel when I sing through the recordings.
DK: Was there anything in retrospect you could have done differently on it?
GF: Probably the order of the songs…but musically it is perfect for the time that I recorded it; the next album will be different as I am different now.
DK: Your biography also states that there is a DVD release out there? But I did not see a DVD on your site. Is it not available yet?
GF: The DVD is available and the name is Heavenly Voices, it is a DVD with 4 new crossover artists on it and all together we share the same stage each of us with our distinct material. The concert recorded for this DVD was also aired on PBS across the USA for 3 weeks this past March.
DK: The one thing that stands out so distinctly about your music is your vocals. You’ve been referred to as the female Andrea Bocelli, how does it feel to be compared like that?
GF: I think it is normal in the beginning to be compared to other singers. Of course the comparison with Andrea Bocelli is an honor, I find him so true and humble and I feel that we have many similarities such as: The place where we were born, the Law University and the normal life we had before the music career.
DK: You got your start with singing in a choir at age 16, how would you say your voice was at that time?
GF: My voice was very natural, shy, pure and light… I discovered my voice in that choir and it was a huge surprise for me when I first heard this voice coming out from my small body…
DK: Your biography mentioned that you were/are very shy, how did you overcome your shyness to try to audition for a choir?
GF: I joined the church‘s choir because I was involved in volunteer work with the church and the Maestro of the choir asked the children to join his choir. So I went there with the intention to just help with my presence…but then the Maestro wanted to hear my solo voice and I was so shy in that moment…but then a voice bigger than me arrived! Everyone was surprised, including me.
DK: Prior to age 21, did you mainly sing classical music?
GF: I sang in the choir, Medieval and sacred music…I was able to listen and to repeat very difficult classical songs, but I was lost in the pop modern songs! My voice was the one who decided, and not me or my mind! Right now I am able to sing many different styles but always with a lot of respect for my instrument.
DK: How did you end up doing vocals for Zucchero?
GF: I was not a vocalist or back-up singer for Zucchero. He lives 20 minutes from my home town and we had a friend in common. At the time, I was a law student, a yoga teacher, a social worker and music was a far dream…to know him was inspiring but at the same time I never asked him to help me. Then I recorded a demo song for some friends of his and I prayed to GOD to let somebody ask for my voice and listen to this demo.
Then my manager, Maurice Velenosi, happened to be at Zucchero‘s house for dinner and he listened to this demo and he asked for the singer…
DK: Have you worked with any other performers at this point of your career?
GF: I have sung with one of the greatest tenors of our time, Jose Carreras, several times. I also sang with the famous classical pianist, Lang Lang, and now on tour in Japan with the famous Chinese group the 12 Girls Band. In Quebec, I also sang with many famous Quebec artists. I also performed with many great symphony orchestras, including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of London. At the end of September and October, I will be touring Canada with Zucchero. I am sure that I will sing with many other performers in the very near future.
DK: What were your musical inspirations then and even now?
GF: Music for me is the easy way to be myself, to be near my heart and my soul and of course near to God. When I was a small child my grandmother sang for me when I was afraid, when I needed to sleep or when I was sick to comfort me….this was her easy way to give me love. Now my inspiration and desire when I sing is to give love to myself and to the people.
DK: You went through vocal lessons in 2002, had you taken any lessons previous to that?
GF: Yes, with private teachers and also at the Conservatory of Parma in Italy. In the beginning my voice was very natural, then I started to study and I learned a lot of personal lessons. I almost lost my voice at one time and I understood that the first and the best teacher is the one inside of us.
DK: What were some of the most important lessons that you learned about singing that you can share with our readers?
GF: First of all was to follow my feelings! Of course there are many great teachers, but we should never give all the power to someone else! This was my first lesson to learn. Then of course I learned to be very disciplined and to have faith in myself. But my biggest teacher is life in my growing journey. I think also that the biggest lesson that I am learning is just to honor and to be myself, with my beauty and my faults, just to be myself.
DK: Where do you think you’d be without having had lessons?
GF: Probably a more wild singer? I believe that our destiny and our capacity to follow and to help is the most important part. I am not an opera singer (even if I sang with the great Jose Carreras) and I am exploring my way to sing every day. I don t want too many rules and I want to decide my way to sing without a cliché. I just want to be true with myself and my audience and to give them the best of me.
DK: You also are a composer too, correct? Tell me more about this…
GF: I composed some music and I wrote some lyrics but I need to find more courage to explore and to believe in me to be able to share it with the people…
DK: You had worked with disabled children, what can you tell me about this part of your life?
GF: When I was 5 years old I wanted to be a missionary or a nun. While growing up, I wanted to work with handicapped children, like a social worker, then I wanted to be a lawyer to help the less fortunate ones! I had a vision and a desire of myself helping the people to feel better. I started with the volunteers at the age of 15 and I felt very comfortable and very happy to spend some time with people living in hospitals or with some handicap. I had a special uncle, he was unable to live a normal life but he was one of the few people able to let me play and dance with so much pureness of spirit!
When I grew up, I always felt very close to the people that were suffering and I always wanted to help them to live a better life. I also worked during my University years with handicapped children and I did my best to help them, but mostly I think they helped me to be more true and closer to myself.
DK: Are you still (in some way) helping them?
GF: Now I am the spokesperson for the Association Multi-ethnic for the integration of handicapped people, I really believe that one of the most important parts to be a public person, is to use your visibility to help true causes. I really hope in the future to become more and more involved in true and important humanitarian causes. In any case, I believe that music is a therapy and I would like to be a Missionary through music!
DK: Who are you personally?
This is a question that I ask myself almost every day! I think I am really here to discover who I really am without all the masks that we put on to please everybody! I am a human being searching for the light and for the peace inside and outside of me. I am a daughter, a sister, a friend, an aunt, a simple and complex woman with a huge desire to share with the people all the magic that music makes me feel.
DK: Besides having been a yoga instructor, what else occupies your time?
GF: Dreaming about having a dog or a cat…or both! I LOVE ANIMALS but I am always traveling and I really can’t have a puppy…, but every time that I am home for more than 1 week I would like to buy a pet! Apart from that, I love to do long walks in nature, paint, read beautiful books, watch inspiring movies, see my family and friends and spend some time with my sister and my 3 beautiful nieces and nephew, but they live in Italy so I can’t see them as often as I would like. Most of all, I love to search and to listen to my inner voice. I started to search for my true self 10 years ago and this research has proven to be the most rewarding.
DK: We’ll get to more in depth questions in our next conversation and I look very much forward to it. Now, you are due to start a tour of Japan with the 12 Girls Band soon; you’ve actually toured with them for some time now already. How did you come to meet up with them initially?
GF: Both of us are signed to EMI, I met them in China and we performed together in Beijing. We had one short rehearsal, but the chemistry between us was very strong from the beginning. They are very good musicians with a beautiful energy and I think we share the same passion for music.
It was very easy to perform with them and now that we are on tour in Japan (21 concerts all across Japan) every show is a success.
I think there is a beautiful message of unity and love in our collaboration and I remember that in China they called us ”East meets West” and I think this is a great slogan about the beautiful result that you can have when you put different cultures together.
They play with traditional Chinese instruments and I sing with my Italian voice and we blend together perfectly.
DK: I saw one photo that you have sung with them as well, what song(s) did you perform together?
GF: Many songs, from Georgia on my mind, to Habanera.
DK: What do you do (or like doing) prior to starting a tour?
GF: I just unpack from one luggage to pack into another one! Even if I always live in my luggage, it is beautiful especially because music was really a far and almost impossible dream until 5 years ago and now that my dream is a reality, I live it all. I try to bring with me all that I need, I try to bring the necessities, but I need to have drawings and paintings and my diary of course.
DK: Have you found any particular venues (or types of venues) that you’ve enjoyed performing at in particular?
GF: I love to perform in the open outdoor spaces when nature is around you, I find that the energy is so special. Between me and the audience there is an easy and more magical connection.
DK: Most of your performances seemed to cover the majority of the world except for the U.S.; it wasn’t until last year that you started performing here. Was there any reason that you’ve not performed in the states sooner?
GF: Actually, I have performed in the USA quite a bit over the last year. My US career was only recently launched and this explains why I was not here in previous years.
My most recent concert in the USA was last June 2nd in Lake Las Vegas with Lang Lang. I also performed at the Gutzman Center in Miami in November 2006. This concert was taped for the PBS Special titled Heavenly Voices which was aired across the USA this past March. I also performed for PBS in many cities such as: Little Rock, Kansas City, Sacramento, San Francisco, Portland, Chicago, Charlotte and Denver. As well as Philadelphia for QVC TV. In Chicago, I also performed at Andy’s Jazz Bar last April 13th and the night before at the Hilton Hotel for the NIAF (National Italian American Foundation).
I also performed at Gracie Mansion for Mayor Bloomberg of New York and for former VP Al Gore in Atlanta and for the Governor of Nevada and Georgia.
Last January, I performed in Dallas at the NHL All Star Game, singing the national anthem. I also sang in Boston and San Francisco.
In October, I will sing at an event in New York and possibly tour the US this fall with the 12 Girls Band.
I love the USA and the feeling of freedom here is very strong. I really hope to come and to build my audience here.
DK: What can you tell us about your performances? (what they can expect)
GF: I try to be myself every time and to sing from my inside. I don’t like to prepare monologues, to repeat myself on stage, I just say what I feel, I don’t know the audience personally but when I am on stage I really try to create with them a strong and true connection.
I am very shy in the beginning and afraid, but then as soon as I open my vocals, my heart sings with me and I become so happy and in peace, that is very contagious!
Many times I feel like a woman and then like a child, probably because it was when I was a child that I had the first heartfelt connection with music through my grandmother’s voice that sang for me every night before going to sleep and she was able to contact my heart in a simple and true way.
Music for me is the bridge to arrive in my heart, and I am on stage to share with the people this magic and to speak from my heart to their hearts.
DK: Excellent, thank you! Well, I look forward to talking with you again and continuing on this interview with you! Have a great set of shows there in Japan!!
Giorgia Fumanti Biography
Though she sings with a purity and grace few can match, Giorgia Fumanti remains one surprisingly modest vocalist. No matter that the ravishing Italian-born soprano has already won fans across Europe, Asia and North America with her live performances and 2004 debut CD. She still insists her talent is only a gift, one she eagerly gives away at every opportunity. Giorgia will have another chance to do so with the upcoming release of her new Angel Records CD, From My Heart.
Produced by Craig Leon, and recorded at London’s Abbey Road Studios as well as Wisseloord Studios in Holland, From My Heart will surely vault Giorgia to global prominence. Along the way, she can expect comparisons to artists like Enya and Andrea Bocelli because she, too, deftly straddles the line between pop and classical. But from the start, Giorgia Fumanti sought to put a uniquely personal stamp on her music.
To do that, she favors an eclectic group of composers, from Sting to Italian film music master Ennio Morricone. She especially loves the music of Morricone because he draws from both pop and classical traditions. “The most important thing in a song is whether it fills me with emotion,” she says. “The music of Ennio Morricone is perfect for that.”
So perfect, in fact, she recorded four Morricone classics for the new CD, including themes from “The Mission”, “Cinema Paradiso”, and “Once Upon a Time in the West”. Giorgia herself translated the lyrics of Sting’s “Fields of Gold” for her stunning acoustic-flavored rendition of “Campi d’Oro”. In addition to Sting, she salutes another of her heroes with her own take on Barbra Streisand’s “I’ve Dreamed of You”.
Giorgia shows off her classical training on songs like the “Aria” (based on “The Swan” from Saint-Saens’). But she also has fun on songs like “Espiritu”, with its choral backgrounds, and “Volero”, another song featuring Giorgia’s own Italian lyrics.
Though artists like Andrea Bocelli have found international favor, the pop-classical hybrid isn’t easy to pull off, and Giorgia knows it. That’s why her connection with producer Craig Leon proved so important. “Some songs are very big, some are very simple,” she notes. “In some I wanted a big orchestra and in others I wanted to sing very simply: just me and piano or guitar. Craig was great because he understood exactly what I had in mind when I dreamed up this album years ago.” Leon states, “working with Giorgia was a great experience. It was wonderful to hear new, fresh ideas from a young artist interpreting the material that she chose for the project.”
In casual conversation, Giorgia often talks about dreaming. Perhaps it serves as a metaphor for the feeling she hopes to convey with her music. It certainly reflects her lifelong sense of purpose. “I hope through my voice people can receive something that can help them”, she says. “As far as I’m concerned, all emotions are important.”
Giorgia Fumanti grew up Aulla, a city north of Tuscany that stands at the crossroads of Italian history. Though tourists pass through to visit the region’s famed castle Fortezza della Brunella, for Giorgia, Aulla was a small town that bred big ambitions. Her parents hoped Giorgia might become a lawyer or go into the family mercantile business. But it was not to be. Beginning in childhood, when her grandmother would sing her lullabies, music pierced Giorgia’s heart.
However, it wasn’t until her mid-teens, when she was invited to join the church choir that she had any inkling she could sing. “I was shy as a teenager”, she recalls. “But in the choir on that first day, I opened my mouth and out came this soprano voice, totally without self-consciousness. Everyone was in shock. Within three months I had become the soloist in the Christmas concert”.
To please her parents, Giorgia did give law school a try, coming within two exams of a law degree. She also devoted much of her time to working with disabled children in her hometown. Around the same time she began a period of introspection, which included practicing yoga, reiki and meditation. “It helped me listen to my heart and soul,” she says, “and to start to do music seriously.”
To that end, she enrolled in the highly esteemed Conservatorio di Parma Arrigo Boito, gaining much from the rigorous classical training. Still, she sensed that opera was not for her. “It was the first time I really took life into my own hands,” she says. “In Italy there is only classical study, so I studied technique and took what I needed.”
In 2002, she met artist manager Maurice Velenosi who immediately picked up on Giorgia’s potential. He offered to take her on, but with a catch: she would have to relocate to Velenosi’s home turf of Montreal. Though she found it painful to leave her family, Giorgia bet it all and moved to Canada. “It was beautiful,” she says, “because I was able to think only about music.”
In 2004, she recorded her debut independent CD, Like a Dream, an album that featured Giorgia’s take on the music of Vangelis. It was her opening salvo in the World Music arena, and along with international touring, it brought her widespread acclaim. Within a year, major labels were courting her, with Angel Records ultimately signing her.
From there, Giorgia began the painstaking process of choosing songs and recording From My Heart with ensembles like the Netherlands Media Orchestra and the English Chamber Choir. She’s already mapping out a world tour following the CD release, hoping her music will touch as many as possible.
As focused as she is on music, Giorgia’s longtime passion for helping others has never diminished. She is today the World Ambassador for the Cerebral Palsy Association of Quebec (L’Association de paralysie cérébrale du Québec), performing concerts, meeting with members and doing what she can to increase awareness of the condition.
But music remains front and center for the singer, who looks forward to the challenges and rewards ahead. “When I was a child.” she says, “people asked me what I wanted to do. I said I wanted to be a missionary. Now my dream is to be a missionary through my music and share with people all the emotions that music makes me feel.” She won’t have long to wait to see that dream come true.
For more information about Giorgia Fumanti, please visit her official site at: www.giorgiafumanti.com