The singer/songwriter reveals her Abruzzese‘roots’!
Grazia and Mauro
We have been patiently awaiting a diminishing of the aftershocks from the Sanremo Festival so as to have a chat with Grazia Di Michele, the lovely Roman, but Abruzzese by adoption, singer-songwriter, whowe unashamedly supported and voted for during the contest!
The tune of the contest, “Io sono una finestra” (I am a window), is exquisite, both intimate and profound. It was co-written by Grazia and Raffaele Petrangeli, and dedicated to Mauro Coruzzi, better known as Platinette. With its jazz undertones, typical use of rhyme and lyrical rhythm of long note entwining verses, the song tells the story of what it’s like to be a women trapped in a man’s body. The subject is clear, the window metaphor through which we see, but which can also reflect, is the retelling of Mauro’s personal story, and a cue for reflection and understanding.
“Io sono una finestra” was sung as a duet with Coruzzi, and won praise for its grace and precision, and the palpable, profound rapport between the two artists, winning the Lenezia Sanremo Prize for best score and the Cento Radio Prize for best interpretation. The track can be found on Grazia’s latest CD, Il Mio Blue (My Blue) the fifteenth of her career.
The album is an original and evocative journey through music and painting. Art, since her first hit “Le ragazze di Gauguin” (Gauguin’s Girls) has never ceased to inspire her. The album was produced by Grazia herself and Paolo Di Sabatino, who along with his Trio has always been present, and contains another duet “L’amore è uno sbaglio”(Love is a mistake) with Mario Venuti. Grazia has written all the tracks on the album, some co-written with Raffaele Petrangeli and Antonio Galbiati.
The video clip from the Festival has received thousands of hits on Youtube (about 500,000), and the performance was superbly directed by Clarissa Cappellani, alongside Emma Dante, Saverio Costanzo, Sabina Guzzanti and Salvo Cuccia.
Grazia, are you happy with the way things are going?
Sanremo: Grazia and Mauro on the Sanremo stage.
Firstly, thanks for voting for me! It was the people’s vote that got me to the final! I’m very happy that the song is out there. I am amazed by the number of messages I get on my Facebook page from boys and girls who are living with being “different” and facing disadvantage and prejudice, they say I have given them courage and that makes me feel good.
The CD is going well, did you know the cover has been described as the most beautiful of the albums that have come out since Sanremo? My graphic artist Antonella Pizzetti, who’s been with me for years, had the idea of painting my face like it was the canvass then photographing the effect. We had loads of fun that day, I can tell you! It’s such a joy to work that way! I’m really proud of all those who work alongside me, they are full of life, have countless new ideas and we have a reciprocal trusting rapport, which all helps to bring about great results. The hits that the video clip is receiving is also very satisfying. We made the video in a few hours, finishing at three in the morning because we wanted to use the darkness of the night, and it was a real challenge. Clarissa Cappellani, the director, had bags of patience, but we needed it too as she is a true professional and perfectionist, she doesn’t give in until she gets what she wants!It’s really lovely, have you seen it?
Yes, and I really love it because it’s so at one with the song.
Grazia Di Michele – Il mio Blu album cover
Let’s now talk about your relationship with Abruzzo.
That’s a proposal! It started a long time ago and is a story full of wonderful memories. My family had a house in Miglianico (recently sold, sadly) where we would go for fun and holidays. A place where we four brothers and sisters had so much fun, and where, years later my son and his cousins found freedom and happiness too. You know how it is in such places, everyone knows everyone, its safe, the youngsters meet-up in the square, discover the surrounding countryside, organise trips and just have lots of crazy fun! Parents don’t have to organise anything for the kids. As an adult it became a priceless refuge for me, a place where I could appreciate the quietness, do some reading, walking, sleeping, far from the chaos of Rome. There I could collect my thoughts and meditate. I would go to the beach at Francavilla with a hamper of sandwiches, some fruit and a bottle of wine. Even today when I come to this part of the country I get a hotel by the beach and have a dawn swim in the Adriatic, I love it, re-experiencing those sensations and feelings from the past. I never miss the opportunity to taste your fabulous fish antipasto and fresh grilled fish either, so aromatic and inviting!
And your musical ties?
I worked for three years with Paolo di Sabatino, a pianist, composer and arranger from Teramo. Paolo performs jazz with his Trio, but together we have discovered a new road, a musical pathway that has taken me towards a pop jazz that audiences really appreciate. We have toured and performed numerous concerts together, quite a few in Abruzzo, with great success. Your (our!) people definitely love me, and I’m so proud!
And that’s not all, there was also the fantastic collaboration with the Abruzzese Symphonic Orchestra, directed by Paolo Di Giandomenico, which appeared on my second to last album Giverny.
From 2010 to 2011 I taught vocal technique and interpretation and music-therapy to students at the Academy of Song, the result of a collaboration between the Abruzzese Symphonic Institute and the Alfredo Casella Conservatory of Aquila.
I was teaching voice technique and music therapy.
718th Celestial Pardon
With the students we then went on tour, together with the Symphonic Orchestra, with “I colori della musica: un viaggio sinfonico attraverso la canzone”(The colour of music: a journey through song and symphony). We wanted to bring attention to the project which was trying to give moral and artistic support to the kids who had lost a piece of their lives in the tragic earthquake of 2009. An objective that was successfully met with the recording of a CD of the experience too. We wanted to put music back into its place, into the heart of the city, which had on one day, one precise moment in time, lost it. Our music and voices well and truly resonated throughout the ‘red zone’.
Is it not true that you were involved with work on other fronts concerning the earthquake?
Grazia Di Michele signs the brick
Do you remember the film “L’Aquila A.D. 2009″ ? It was made by children from the Pizzoli-Cagnano middle school, near Aquila, and talks about the earthquake from a child’s point of view. I volunteered to oversee the project and get choked up when I remember the moment, after the showing of the film during the 718th Celestial Pardon, when I signed the brick symbolising the rebuilding of the earthquake zone.
I was honoured to receive the Freedom of the City of Aquila for my earthquake works. I did everything I could with my means of expression, as well as what I’ve already told you, from the beginning to end I tried to help, to contribute to the reconstruction both materially and for the morale of the people of those places affected. I promoted fundraising appeals, and performed at many awareness raising events. I did everything I could, I love this land and L’Aquila was a stunning city, full of life and atmosphere, with its religious architecture, the gates, the walls, the forts, the fountains, the archaeological areas and its natural parks.
When are you coming back this way?
Soon! I promised my father I would take him back to his beloved Abruzzo, and I feel like getting to the Trabocchi coast, enjoying an unforgettable fish meal, and saluting the sunset with a delicious glass of Trebbiano, 100% Abruzzese, cheers!
In a career spanning more than 30 years, Grazia started out at the Folkstudio and followed this with the most prestigious musical and theatrical experiences. She has followed numerous artistic pathways, as well as scientific, but has never forgotten her social dues. She has become the soundtrack for the common ground. She has even invented and produced a ‘musical’ incubator for premature babies.
Her artistic works also keep her busy, and she is ever-present at all our country’s most popular musical festivals, such as the Sanremo Festival, the Tenco Prize, Festivalbar, and Cantagiro, as well as international events such as the recital of Chiamalavita given at the UN Chrystal Palace in 2005. She tours continuously, sometimes with other artists (i.e. with Toquinho in 2003), records albums, and is a working actress.
She has written hundreds of songs, for herself and other artists, promoted young talent, worked with numerous musicians, both Italian and foreign, singing or writing songs with or for the likes of Nicolette Larson, Randy Crawford, Eugenio Finardi, Cristiano De Andrè, Pierangelo Bertoli, Rossana Casale, Bungaro, Irene Fargo, Ornella Vanoni, Toquinho, Tosca, Massimo Bubola, Luca Madonia, Massimo Ranieri, and Terje Nordgarden.
Recently she has intensified her educational work, starting at the University of Music, in Rome, and continuing as teacher and director of studies at the Conservatories in Aquila and Nocera Terinese. She has also been the singing teacher for the Reality TV show “Amici” for more than 10 years.
Grazia Di Michele: receiving the freedom of the city of L’Aquila
She worked tirelessly to aid the rebuilding of the city of Aquila following the devastating earthquake, and in 2012 received the City award, and is a member of the Article 1 Committee. (In the Italian constitution the City artistic and environment committee is Article 9, however calling it Art 1 in Aquila is in recognition of its importance). In 2014 Grazia starting writing a blog for The Huffington Post, called “Le vie dei canti”(a journey of songs) a diary of her daily travels through the various musical pathways, both real and metaphorical, of this country.
1978 – Cliché (It)
1983 – Ragiona col cuore (Venus Dischi)
1986 – Le ragazze di Gauguin (WEA Italiana)
1988 – L’amore è un pericolo (WEA Italiana)
1990 – Raccolta (WEA Italiana, con due inediti)
1991 – Grazia Di Michele (WEA Italiana)
1993 – Confini (Warner Music Italy)
1995 – Rudji (Sony)
2001 – Naturale (Cnimusica)
2005 – Chiamalavita (Rai Trade)
2005 – Respiro (Rai Trade)
2006 – Le più belle canzoni di Grazia Di Michele (WEA)
2009 – Passaggi segreti (Rai Trade)
2012 – Giverny (Rai Eri)
2015 – Il mio blu (Nar International)
Nata a Pescara nel 1951, vive a Roma da molti anni. E’ stata Direttore
della Comunicazione dell’ETI Ente Teatrale Italiano, occupandosi di
comunicazione, promozione e marketing dello Spettacolo dal vivo, spaziando da Teatri a Festival, Rassegne, Progetti speciali, Editoria.
Attualmente è free lance. Ha collaborato al progetto discografico IL MIO BLU di Grazia Di Michele.