An Interview with Pantelleria's Pietro Gabriele

If there's one thing that MNGBlog loves doing it's introducing unique up-and-coming artists from around the world.

Hailing from the Italian island of Pantelleria, Pietro Gabriele is a genuine virtuoso, blessed with a wise talent for storytelling. Not only does he offer a youthful, modern, rock-influenced musical style that appeals to a large audience, but he is a triple threat as well, shining equally as bright as a singer and musician as he does as a songwriter.

IMAGE COURTESY PIETRO GABRIELE

IMAGE COURTESY PIETRO GABRIELE

Gabriele's love for music was born at the age of six, a passion instilled in him by his father. As a child, he loved singing and learning songs by memory, so much so that he remembered: "I destroyed entire music cassette tapes by constantly using the rewind button on the old stereo." But it wasn't until he was 14 that he finally began to take his first real singing lessons from Letizia Stuppa, the only teacher on Pantelleria, whom he says, in addition to teaching him the foundations of singing, "always made my love for music grow more." And by 19, after moving to the northern Italian city of Bresica, he was studying guitar with Giovanni Rovati at the Istituto Artistico Musicale L'Ottave and piano with Marco Arrighi. However, he said, "What most influenced my musical growth and what formed what I am was the privilege of having studied singing and vocal techniques with the great [English-born singer and musician] Alan Farrington."

Yet the young singer's career didn't get its true start until about 5 years later--in 2011-- when he began winning various national festivals, including the Botticino Music Festival and Pantelleria's Calypso Mediterranea Festival. Then, in 2012, came one of his biggest and most prestigious accomplishments to date: placing in the top 30 web voted artists of Sanremo Social.

Sanremo Social, an online voting campaign that ultimately resulted in the selection of six finalists to compete in the Young Artist category of the world-renowned Italian music festival il Festival di Sanremo, proved to be one of the most important events in Gabriele's career. While he submitted his entry "Destino" just two weeks before the deadline, it was voted for by 20,000 people, allowing him the opportunity to perform along with the 29 other web voted artists during a live show (televised on Italian network RAI) on the day of his 25th birthday. He told MNGBlog: "When Rai called to tell me that ["Destino"] was among the 30 most voted [songs] in all of Italy I didn't believe it...It was as if 20,000 people united to give me this gift. I truly felt a lot of affection from the people who follow me and this is the greatest present that a musician could receive...[it was] an unforgettable experience."

And so, in front of a jury panel, Pietro sang "Destino," but not before Italian pop legend and jury member Gianni Morandi sang "Happy Birthday" to him on stage.

As heard in the clip above, those flavors of rock sprinkled throughout his own music find their origins in that of bands like Radiohead, Coldplay, and Muse. In addition to citing Muse frontman Matthew Bellamy as his biggest influence, Gabriele also credits some of his methods to Italian singer-songwriter Mango: "My mother listened to him a lot when I was little and as a result I can't hide that certain methods may be associated with him." However, he said, “I take inspiration from everything I listen to and very often...I try to mix different styles and genres."

IMAGE COURTESY PIETRO GABRIELE

IMAGE COURTESY PIETRO GABRIELE

His latest single "Il Tango Di Maria" is a perfect example of this musical fusion. If you haven’t yet heard it, you absolutely MUST! Written by Gabriele himself, the song is completely compelling and thrilling, moving through four styles--waltz, tango, pop, and rock--that represent four emotions "exactly like the four emotional stages seen in the tale," as he put it.

The inspiring tale he referred to was a true story told to him by an old man on his island, which he recounted in detail:

"There's a tradition on the island, during the winter months, to ballroom dance (tango, waltz, polka, mazurca) and there are some authentic dance circles for each with their own orchestras in various districts. Dancing was, and still is today, a way to get to know new people and why not also for love. He told me that he was a bad dancer and that he was madly in love with the most beautiful girl on the island, Maria. He never had the courage to get near her and when he ran into her in the streets of the town, his vision was paralyzed and he couldn't say a single word. He told me that when Maria entered the dance circle, everyone turned to look at her and not only because she was beautiful, but also because she was dancing magnificently. Then he told me something that struck me and that I quote: 'I was so in love that I prayed to the virgin Mary to give me the courage and the strength to come forward and express my feelings.'...In the end he found that courage, singing for her in that circle where he saw her dancing and ended up marrying her and sharing their entire lives together."

The man's story, and specifically his approach to winning over the woman of his dreams, had an incredible impact on Gabriele, who realized that "anyone of us, in today's world, would have prayed to have that woman and not to have the courage to step forward," and admitted that he tried to capture the melody of the man's prayer in the song.

Although "Il Tango Di Maria" is not yet available on digital platforms, the official video was released in January and has since accumulated nearly 17,000 views. It's a hit!

NOTE: "Il Tango Di Maria" is now available on iTunes and digital platforms! Get it here.

Gabriele is currently working on some exciting new projects, including a new record that will hopefully be released by the end of 2016. Before summer arrives, though, he will publish new videos that will reveal the dates of his tour. Can't wait!

And, of course, MNGBlog had to ask what he's listening to. Check out his favorites:

MNGBlog: If you could pick one song to listen to for the rest of your life, what would it be?

PG: There are many songs that left a mark on my life and that I would sing every day, but if I must absolutely pick one of them, that is "Imagine" from the great and only John Lennon.

MNGBlog: Which songs are on your iPod right now?

PG: I listen to mainly rock music. I love bands like Muse, Radiohead, Coldplay; but also classical music like Bach, Beethoven, Mozart; and obviously history's greats can't be left out like the Beatles, Queen, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, David Bowie, and many others. Therefore, you'll find a little bit of everything on my iPod but only and exclusively beautiful music.

Friends in Italy, don't miss Pietro's upcoming show in Rome on May 26 at Teatro Europa di Aprilia. And make sure you check out his impressive album Qualcuno da poter amare, now available on digital platforms. Get it on iTunes here.

Follow Pietro Gabriele on his social networks:

Facebook: Pietro Gabriele

Instagram: @pietrogabrieleofficial

Twitter: @pietrogabriele_

YouTube: Pietro Gabriele