Marco Polo You have an amazing career and I had a chance to listen to a lot of your singles and I honestly never knew you sung those songs. Let’s go back to your childhood. I would like to know the influence that your father had on you, because he was a cabaret singer.
Gino Vannelli He was actually headed to be a big band singer in the late 40’s, early 50’s and he decided not to continue on with this career. He had signed some bad contracts and he was little sceptical about it. As a boy I wanted to prove him wrong. I thought it was really about putting the right foot forward and just doing it and it being a mission in your life.
Marco Polo At 16 you signed with RCA Records under the name Vann Elli. How much did you know about the business side of the music at that time?
Gino Vannelli Not very much. I was one of those characters that had a real combination of totally blind ambition. I was just a constantly flowing volcano. I did have a certain amount of common sense kind of led me to the right places eventually. I really made my share of mistakes, but it was really a learning process, especially when I moved to New York.
Marco Polo You won Juno awards. You’ve been nominated for Grammy awards. What do you feel is your most memorable moment winning a Juno award?
Gino Vannelli I can’t say that any one means the most to me, but I suspect that with Black Cars. I won for Producer of the Year and then we also won for engineering, Engineers of the Year. That was a bit of a chuckle only because that was the first album we recorded in Joe’s bedroom. So of all the albums I had before recorded in 10 million dollar studios, the most expensive studios, of the seven albums before that, I never received such an award in Canada and it was very ironic that I should receive an award with an album that was recorded in Joe’s bedroom.
Marco Polo In 2005 you had a chance to perform for Pope John Paul and you got a call from the Vatican. It was because of a song that you dedicated to your father. Do you want to tell us about that song and what inspired you about that song?
Gino Vannelli It was a little earlier, it was in 2001 and it was a song I wrote called Parole Per Mio Padre which means A Word to my Father.
The story line is basically about after you’ve left, let me tell you how I’ve missed you and let me tell you about some of the regrets I have as your son.
It’s kind of an emotional and personal piece.
The Pope hear that song, liked it and the Vatican gave me a call and asked me to perform it.
So i did. I brought my family to the Vatican and performed that song with the Rome Symphony for the Holy Father.
And I got to meet him, too, which was a really trip.
Marco Polo Do you remember doing your first music video?
Gino Vannelli I think we did a video in 1976, Love of My Life or something like that. Then we did I Just Wanna Stop as a promo video in ‘77. ‘78 and then all of a sudden MTV hit and videos became the big thing and now they’re no longer that important anymore.
Now people do videos just for their profile maybe to put on YouTube or something like that.
People don’t spend their days watching videos on MTV anymore because we have computers and social networking, that is a little more interesting to people.
Marco Polo One of the biggest highlights or moments in your career…
Gino Vannelli I would say next to my son being born, it’s probably up there.
Marco Polo Let’s talk about the involvement of your brothers in your career. How involved were they in your career and was it tough working with family members?
Gino Vannelli There was always a bit of sibling rivalry left over from early days, but Joe and I got along well musically.
He was an integral part of the band, arranging and producing with me.
We co-arranged and co-produced a lot of records.
My brother Ross, he was the live engineer in those days, and then Ross started venturing on his own as producer and of course wrote I Just Wanna Stop, which was a big hit for me.
Marco Polo What kind of advice you would give to the young song writers?
Gino Vannelli It’s really important that songwriters stick to it. I would also suggest to songwriters don’t model yourself on the half songwriters. Listen to Jerome Kern, Rodgers and Hammerstein, George Gershwin, Lennon-McCartney.
Listen to the best songs and compare your stuff with those songs.
Of course, we live in a different era. You can write about what pertains to our society today, but as far as the craft of songwriting you know, the emotion curve ad the musical curve, the rise that you get and the prologue and the epilogue and all that kind of stuff that comes through in three to four minutes, they really had it down, so let them be your teachers.
November 3th 2017, Italian-Canadian blues singer Gino Vannelli came back to Vancouver with his concert at River Rock Casino Resort after 5 years. To say this was one of the musical highlights of the year would be a monumental understatement. Gino loves what he does, which is obvious from his two-hour sets and plenty of unexpected and unrehearsed impromptu show-stopping moments. It’s entirely authentic from start to finish. He’s not the best singer, or guitar player, of course, but combine his passion with the gift of melody and he’s the real deal. Friday night, he essentially performed every song we wanted to hear, then stayed for two encores. It would be difficult if not impossible to upstage Gino’s boundless energy or natural charm on the stage.
The crowd of mainly Italian-Canadians grandparents lapped it up: dancing and singing along to his lyrics. At River Rock Casino, made the show into a give and take. It was nice to see so much interaction between a stage performer (and an audience, giving the evening an intimate nightclub feel.
Our seats were no more than perhaps 30 feet away. We could see the sweat pouring off his face as a drenched performer gave his audience the show they wanted to see.
The concert was proof to someone who hadn’t seen Gino Vannelli live in concert before that his success isn’t smoke and mirrors but genuine, real talent. There’s no doubt Vancouverians love Gino. My only wish is that Gino Vannelli comes back here more often!
His tour continues with dates in US: Warren, Michigan and Beverly Hills, California. Click his website for tickets and show information http://www.ginov.com.