This week the RK World Tour is headed to Italy with one of the world's most popular artists, award winning classical singer Andrea Boccelli. Join us as we take a look at his incredible and extensive career as one of the best selling Italian and Classical artists in musical history.
Born to a farming family in La Sterza, an area of Tuscany, Italy, Andrea Bocelli showed early signs of problems with his sight which could only be comforted through his young passion for music, according to his mother. At the age of six Bocelli began piano, and later learned many other instruments as well. By 12, Bocelli became totally blind following a soccer accident.
When Bocelli was 14 he won his first song competition, though he continued in school and even went to Law school before beginning any major attempts to break into the music world.
In 1992, Bocelli had his first big break when he was discovered by Caterina Caselli, still his manager and producer today, and his demo tape was sent to Luciano Pavarotti who was set on using Bocelli to create a demo of the song Miserere for the album of the same name. Pavarotti eventually recorded the song with Bocelli and it became a huge hit, leading to live performances and Bocelli signing with Sugar Music Label in Milan.
In December of the same year he entered into the Sanremo Music Festival and won with the highest marks ever in the Newcomers section leading to his debut in the classical world at the Teatro Romolo Valli in Reggio Emilia. 1994 saw his entrance and record breaking win in the main Sanremo Festival, giving his debut album the boost it needed to immediately enter the Italian Top 10.
As newcomer winner of the Sanremo Festival, he was invited to return and entered the main competition with Con te partiro, finishing in fourth place. The song was included on his album Bocelli, which was followed by the Fall release of his album Viaggio Italiano, and included Miserere and Funiculi, funicula. Con te partiro at this point became his most popular single, and in Belgium was the best selling song of all time.
Bocelli's was invited in 1996 to sing a duet with Sarah Brightman, who with him, reworked Con te partiro into the world famous Time to say goodbye. Bocelli and Brightman rerecorded the song with the London Symphony Orchestra and the song became a world wide hit, joining his other Romanza hit, Vivo por ella at the top of the charts.
In 1997 after winning Best Single of the Year for Time to say goodbye, Bocelli performed at many festivals and concerts, including in the presence of the Pope. He also received Best Seller of the Year in September for Viaggio Italiano.
Bocelli's stateside breakthrough came after his fifth album Aria and a concert in Washington DC followed by a reception at the White House in 1998. Two world music awards, Best Italian Singer and Best classical interpretation, were awarded to him in Monte Carlo that year and he was named one of People Magazine's 50 most beautiful people.
June, July and August saw Bocelli's North and South American tour sell out and several more award nominations and wins. Bocelli was a guest of Celine Dion's during her television special These are special times, in which he performed with her The prayer and Ave Maria solo. The prayer appeared on the Quest for Camelot soundtrack and also Bocelli's album Sogno, winning Golden Globe for Best Original Song and helping him gain a nomination for Best New Artist at the Grammys, the first time a classical artist had been nominated for that award since 1961.
Bocelli's seventh album Sacred Arias, which contains exclusively sacred music reached first place in the USA Classic Billboard charts two weeks after its release, making Bocelli the first vocalist to hold all top three places on the chart, with Aria, the opera album in second place, and Viaggio Italiano in third place. Sacred Arias eventually became the biggest-selling classical album by a solo artist of all time.
After years of touring and awards, Bocelli launched his own label Clacksong and in 2003 as a producer at the Sanremo Festival, watched the young artists Allunati and Jacqueline Ferry sing for his new label. That year his second complete opear Tosca was released and he also received two awards for his album Sentimento. Bocelli ended the year by beginning yet another tour in the United States and with performances in Asia.
After releasing the abulm Amore in 2006, Bocelli was honoured by the Italian state with a Grande Ufficiale Italian Order of Merit (Grand Officer of the Italian Republic) for his worldwide work for his country as a singer, presented to him at the Sanremo festival where he performed a duet with Christina Aguilera.
In 2008 Bocelli released the album Incanto and also received the Italian TV award Telegatto, performing Dare to live and La voce del silenzio during the reception ceremony. Bocelli promoted the album with many live performances and also appeared on the Alan Titchmarsh Show on BBC and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
Bocelli's first holiday album, My Christmas, was released in 2009. The album, which became the best holiday album of the year, included God bless us everyone and Silent night, which in the streets of London, Bocelli led the St Paul’s Cathedral Choir, and more than 14,000 people across the capital, as they broke the Official Guinness World Record for the biggest ever Christmas Carol sing-along.
This year Bocelli joined forces with Mary J Blige and David Foster to sing Bridge over troubled water to raise awareness for Haiti victims of the earthquake. Bocelli was also honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Bocelli's most recent performance was headlining the Celebrate Africa: The Grand Finale concert for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, where he was joined by Bryan Adams, Andrea Griminelli and South African artists Nianel and Pretty Yende.
Widely regarded as the world's most succesful and most amazing classical artists, you can enjoy Andrea Bocelli's award winning songs and attempt to master them yourself through karaoke here on Red Karaoke.