The Early Years
Born on September 22nd, 1958, Andrea grew up on the family farm in Lajatico, a close knit farming community set among the vineyards and olive groves of rural Tuscany. The farm includes a small vineyard, from which Andrea's father, Sandro, still produces a small quantity of "Chianti Bocelli." Displaying rare musical gifts from an early age, Andrea's parents nurtured and encouraged his talents with formal piano lessons from the age of six, later learning to play both flute and saxophone. Andrea's love of opera was also apparent from an early age, and he feels he was destined to sing. "I was one of those children who would always be asked to sing for my relatives. I don't think one really decides to be a singer - other people decide it for you by their reactions".
After school, Andrea studied law at the University of Pisa, and these years are fondly recalled as a highly enjoyable period in his life. Graduating as a Doctor of Law, Andrea spent a year acting as a court-appointed lawyer, before embarking on a make-or-break attempt at singing. He approached the legendary tenor, Franco Corelli, famous for working with some of the greatest voices in the world, who readily agreed to take Andrea as his pupil. To pay the fees Andrea performed at night in piano bars and clubs, and at one of these venues he met Enrica, his future wife. The couple have now been married for eight years, with two sons, Amos and Matteo.
In 1992 a chain of events accelerated Andrea from piano bar performer to international superstardom: Italian rock legend Zucchero held auditions for tenors to make a demo tape of the duet Miserere , the track co-written with U2's Bono, in attempt to persuade Luciano Pavarotti to record the song. Zucchero recalled: "Andrea was just unbelievable! He had something not one of the other tenors possessed. He had soul." When Pavarotti received the demo, he was extremely impressed with Andrea's voice, "Zucchero!, Who is this guy?" Pavarotti demanded. "Thank You for writing such a wonderful song. Yet you do not need me to sing it - Let Andrea sing Miserere with you, for there is no one finer." Zucchero convinced Pavorotti to record Miserere with him, and the duo scored a Europe-wide smash hit. When Zucchero embarked on his European tour, with the public crying out to hear the hit live, he invited Bocelli to perform the duet in place of Pavarotti. Bocelli was received tremendously, and a solo spot was incorporated into the concerts.
Pavarotti later arranged to meet with Andrea, and a friendship was formed. Andrea's fame and popularity increased with a high profile performance at Pavarotti's annual charity gala concert, which brings together the worlds of classical and popular music, and this saw Andrea performing not only with his host, but with stars of popular music including Bryan Adams. A 1995 pan-Europe tour, "Night of the Proms" featuring Bocelli, Bryan Ferry, Al Jarreau and others, saw Andrea performing to a live audience totalling 500,000 with televised audiences numbering tens of millions.
Sugar Music & The Sanremo Festival
Andrea's recording career begun in earnest when in 1993 he signed to Inseieme/Sugar, the Milan-based music group founded in the 1930's who represent scores of famous Italian artists. Caterina Caselli, Sugar's President, heard Andrea sing Miserere and Nessun dorma at Zucchero's birthday party and a deal was made immediately. In November 1993 Andrea entered the preliminary round of the prestigious Italian Sanremo Music Festival performing both parts of the duet Miserere. Andrea won the preliminary competition with the highest marks ever recorded in the "New Entrants" category. In spring of 1994 Andrea entered the main competition with II mare calmo della sera, and the victory was again awarded with a record score. His debut album was released and immediately entered the Italian Top Ten and went platinum in a matter of weeks.
As winner of the 1994 Sanremo Festival Andrea was invited, as in the tradition, to return the following year. Andrea entered with Con Te Partiro taken from his second album "Bocelli" produced by another of Italy's leading record producers, Mauro Malavasi. The album went on to achieve double platinum sales in Italy.
Major international chart success with single and album releases
Bocelli's worldwide success has been phenomenal, scoring No.1 singles and albums. the singles Con Te Partiro and Time to Say Goodbye have smashed sales records in several countries, while Andrea's albums have amassed sales awards across Europe. Bocelli's original solo version of the singe Con Te Partiro, featured on the album "Bocelli" was a massive hit; in France the single topped the charts for 6 weeks, earning a triple Gold sales award; in Belgium the single became the biggest hit of all time, spending 12 weeks at No.1 The album "Bocelli" has been awarded Platinum status is all territories of releases, including sextuple platinum in Belgium, quadruple platinum in Germany (selling nearly two million copies), quadruple platinum in Holland and double platinum in Italy. In November 1996, Andrea and Sarah Brightman were invited to perform the duet "Time to Say Goodbye (Con Te Partiro) at the farewell contest of the German World Light-Heavyweight boxing champion, Henry Maske. A national hero held in unrivaled esteem, he is known for his love of selecting entrance themes to his bouts. Sarah Brightman, the internationally renowned soprano and friend of Henry Maske heard Con Te Partiro in a restaurant while dining with her friends. Entranced by the singer and the song, Brightman made contact with Andrea. Andrea and Brightman re-recorded Con Te Partiro as the duet Time to Say Goodbye with members of the London Symphony Orchestra.
Maske, unfortunately was defeated on points by US champion Virgil Hill. As the German public paid tribute to their departing hero, the arena was filled with the glorious sound of Time to Say Goodbye. The hearts and minds of the German nation were captured. The single was released and shot to No.1 where it resided for 14 weeks. With sales nearing 3 million copies, and a sextuple platinum award. Time to Say Goodbye has eclipsed the previous best-selling single by well over 1 million copies. However, it was "Romanza", Bocelli's international debut album released in 1997, which took him to even greater heights of success. Going multi-platinum in virtually all territories of release. With his recent release of "Sogno" selling in excess of 4 million copies in just a couple months, is a testament to the power of his unique voice and irresistible warmth in overcoming barriers of language and culture.
-- Biography courtesy of the "Tour of the Americas" program
--- from the official Andrea Bocelli website