Though she sings with a purity and grace few can match, Giorgia Fumanti remains one surprisingly modest vocalist. No matter that the ravishing Italian-born soprano has already won fans across Europe, Asia and North America with her live performances and 2004 debut CD. She still insists her talent is only a gift, one she eagerly gives away at every opportunity. Giorgia will have another chance to do so with the upcoming release of her new EMI Records CD, From My Heart.
Produced by Craig Leon, and recorded at London's Abbey Road Studios as well as Wisseloord Studios in Holland, From My Heart will surely vault Giorgia to global prominence. Along the way, she can expect comparisons to artists like Enya and Andrea Bocelli because she, too, deftly straddles the line between pop and classical. But from the start, Giorgia Fumanti sought to put a uniquely personal stamp on her music.
To do that, she favors an eclectic group of composers, from Sting to Italian film music master Ennio Morricone. She especially loves the music of Morricone because he draws from both pop and classical traditions. "The most important thing in a song is whether it fills me with emotion," she says. "The music of Ennio Morricone is perfect for that."
So perfect, in fact, she recorded four Morricone classics for the new CD, including themes from "The Mission," "Cinema Paradiso," and "Once Upon a Time in the West." Giorgia herself translated the lyrics of Sting's Fields of Gold for her stunning acoustic-flavored rendition of Campi d'Oro. In addition to Sting, she salutes another of her heroes with her own take on Barbra Streisand's I've Dreamed of You.
Giorgia shows off her classical training on songs like the Aria (based on The Swan from Saint-Saens'). But she also has fun on songs like Espiritu, with its choral backgrounds, and Volero, another song featuring Giorgi's own Italian lyrics.
Though artists like Andrea Bocelli have found international favor, the pop-classical hybrid isn't easy to pull off, and Giorgia knows it. That's why her connection with producer Craig Leon proved so important. "Some songs are very big, some are very simple," she notes. "In some I wanted a big orchestra and in others I wanted to sing very simply: just me and piano or guitar. Craig was great because he understood exactly what I had in mind when I dreamed up this album years ago." Leon states, "working with Giorgia was a great experience. It was wonderful to hear new, fresh ideas from a young artist interpreting the material that she chose for the project."
In casual conversation, Giorgia often talks about dreaming. Perhaps it serves as a metaphor for the feeling she hopes to convey with her music. It certainly reflects her lifelong sense of purpose. "I hope through my voice people can receive something that can help them," she says. "As far as I'm concerned, all emotions are important."
Giorgia Fumanti grew up Aulla, a city north of Tuscany that stands at the crossroads of Italian history. Though tourists pass through to visit the region's famed castle Fortezza della Brunella, for Giorgia, Aulla was a small town that bred big ambitions. Her parents hoped Giorgia might become a lawyer or go into the family mercantile business. But it was not to be. Beginning in childhood, when her grandmother would sing her lullabies, music pierced Giorgia's heart.
However, it wasn't until her mid-teens, when she was invited to join the church choir that she had any inkling she could sing. "I was shy as a teenager," she recalls. "But in the choir on that first day, I opened my mouth and out came this soprano voice, totally without self-consciousness. Everyone was in shock. Within three months I had become the soloist in the Christmas concert."
To please her parents, Giorgia did give law school a try, coming within two exams of a law degree. She also devoted much of her time to working with disabled children in her hometown. Around the same time she began a period of introspection, which included practicing yoga, reiki and meditation. "It helped me listen to my heart and soul," she says, "and to start to do music seriously."
To that end, she enrolled in the highly esteemed Conservatorio di Parma Arrigo Boito, gaining much from the rigorous classical training. Still, she sensed that opera was not for her. "It was the first time I really took life into my own hands," she says. "In Italy there is only classical study, so I studied technique and took what I needed. "
In 2002, she met artist manager Maurice Velenosi who immediately picked up on Giorgia's potential. He offered to take her on, but with a catch: she would have to relocate to Velenosi's home turf of Montreal. Though she found it painful to leave her family, Giorgia bet it all and moved to Canada. "It was beautiful," she says, "because I was able to think only about music."
In 2004, she recorded her debut independent CD, Like a Dream, an album that featured Giorgia's take on the music of Vangelis. It was her opening salvo in the World Music arena, and along with international touring, it brought her widespread acclaim.
From there, Giorgia began the painstaking process of choosing songs and recording From My Heart with ensembles like the Netherlands Media Orchestra and the English Chamber Choir. She's already mapping out a world tour following the CD release, hoping her music will touch as many as possible.
As focused as she is on music, Giorgia's longtime passion for helping others has never diminished. She is today the World Ambassador for the Cerebral Palsy Association of Quebec (L'Association de paralysie cérébrale du Québec), performing concerts, meeting with members and doing what she can to increase awareness of the condition.
But music remains front and center for the singer, who looks forward to the challenges and rewards ahead. "When I was a child." she says, "people asked me what I wanted to do. I said I wanted to be a missionary. Now my dream is to be a missionary through my music and share with people all the emotions that music makes me feel."