It is eight years since William Price King joined Smorgasbord to share music across the genres. It is six years since we have featured some of the music legends and delighted to showcase them again in 2022.
Welcome to the first part in the Andrea Bocelli story. The multi-award winning cross over tenor has won not just critical acclaim for his beautiful voice, but the hearts of millions around the world.
Andrea Bocelli – The Early Years
Andrea Bocelli was born to Alessandro and Edi Bocelli who lived on a farm in the village of La Sterza, a suburb of the town of Lajatico, 50 kilometres from Florence the capital of the Tuscany region of Italy. His parents made their living by selling farm machinery and making wine and his family continue to live there today.
Andrea was born in September 1958 following what must have been a stressful time for the family. Doctors determined that the baby was likely to be born with disabilities and his parents were recommended to terminate the pregnancy. But Alessandro and Edi decided not to do so, and Andrea was born apparently healthy. However, it soon became apparent that he did have sight problems and was diagnosed eventually with congenital glaucoma.
Throughout his early childhood his mother said that music was the only thing that brought this little boy comfort as he struggled with his condition, and by the age of six he had begun piano lessons. Over the next few years he went on to learn to play the flute, saxophone, trumpet, guitar and drums. He was still only a small boy when he was introduced to opera. His nanny gave him his first record of the internationally renowned tenor Franco Corelli.
Born in 1921 this artist was associated with the dramatic tenor roles of the Italian repertory including composers such as Rossini, Verdi and Puccini. Dubbed the Prince of Tenors, he was celebrated universally for his powerhouse voice, electrifying top notes, clear timbre, passionate singing and remarkable performances. Having listened to Franco Corelli, Andrea was now determined to follow a singing career. Even at the age of seven he was able to recognise the foremost tenors of the time and within a few years he was performing their music in public.
Andrea gave his first concert in a small village near his home and I suspect that those in the audience, whilst marvelling at this young boy’s voice, would not have envisaged that one day he would be such an international star. Here is Franco Corelli singing Torna a Surriento.
In a devastating blow in 1970, at the age of 12, Andrea lost his sight completely following an accident during a football game. He was hit in the eye playing goalkeeper during a match and suffered a brain hemorrhage.
Undeterred, at age 14 Andrea won his first competition, The Margherita d’Oro in Viareggio singing O Sole Mio.
Apart from his passion for music, Andrea did well at school and at age twenty, he began law studies at the University of Pisa. To earn money, Andrea performed in local piano bars in the evenings and after obtaining his degree, he spent a year as a court appointed lawyer.
However, singing was still a driving force in Andrea’s life and in 1992, the Italian rock star Zucchero held auditions for tenors to make a demo tape of his song Miserere, to send to Luciano Pavarotti. His intention was to persuade the great tenor to duet with him on the song but initially, having heard Andrea Bocelli’s audition, Pavarotti suggested that Zucchero record with him instead.
However, eventually Pavarotti did record the original with Zucchero and it was a huge hit. But the following year during the rock star’s European concert tour, Andrea Bocelli accompanied him and as well as Miserere, Andrea performed solo sets singing Nessun Dorma from Puccini’s Turandot.
Andrea Bocelli gives an exquisite performance of Miserere. The emotion flows easily and his passion is evident. This is a remarkable cross-over duet with Zucchero in spite of the fact that they have two totally different *timbres. He, Kai-Ru
Note: timbre – the character and quality of a musical voice.
Later that year Bocelli signed with the Sugar Music label in Milan after the president of the label heard him sing both songs at Zucchero’s birthday party. In the December he entered the preliminary round of the world famous Sanremo Music Festival, performing Miserere and won the newcomer category with the highest marks ever received.
This was followed by his debut in the classical world in a concert at the Teatro Romolo Valli in Reggio Emilia.
In February 1994, he entered the main Sanremo Festival competition with Il mare calmo della sera, and he won the newcomers section, again with a record score. Following his win, Bocelli released his debut album of the same name in April, and it entered the Italian Top Ten, being certified platinum within weeks.
With his distinctive *classical crossover sound, Bocelli delights us with a vocal contrast between the light, tenor quality of his voice and a cutting edge raspy tone filled with emotion. He is an impressive communicator, and in this song the emotion speaks for itself.
Note: classical crossover – a style that hovers between classical and popular music, targeted for fans of both genres and in this case for classically trained singers.Andrea Bocelli
BUY Andrea Bocelli’s Music: Amazon
Official Website:Andrea Bocelli
William Price King is an American jazz singer, crooner, and composer.
His interest in music began at an early age when he studied piano and clarinet in high school. At Morehouse College in Atlanta where he grew up, he sang in the Glee Club and studied classical music. After graduation he went off to the Yale School of Music where he earned a Masters degree. From there he journeyed to New York where he created a jazz trio ‘Au Naturel’ which performed in some of the hottest venues in Manhattan including gigs on Broadway and the famous ‘Rainbow Room.’ These gigs opened doors for performances in Montreal and a European tour.
While touring Europe he met a lovely French lady, Jeanne Maïstre, who, a year later became his wife. King left the group ‘Au Naturel’ and settled in the south of France where he started a new life on the French Riviera, opening his own music school – the “Price King Ecole Internationale de Chant.” He has had the pleasure over the years of seeing many of his students excel as singers on a professional level, and some going on to become national celebrities. He continues to coach young singers today, in his spare time.
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