Born c. 1974 in Solarolo, Italy; daughter of Fabrizio Pausini (a pianist and singer). Addresses: Record company--Atlantic Records, 75 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10019, website: http://www.atlantic_records.com. Website--Laura Pausini Official Website: http://www.laurapausini.com.
If Laura Pausini's name and sound aren't familiar to American audiences, it is not for lack of talent or ambition. A top-selling pop artist in her native Italy, Pausini is equally admired throughout Europe and has become a top attraction in Latin America. In 2002 she plotted a new career track designed to make her a crossover artist in the United States. She released her first English-language album, From the Inside, in the same year, a dance-and-ballad compendium whose appeal one VH-1 writer compared to that of the Swedish supergroup ABBA.
Born in the northern Italian city of Solarolo, Pausini grew up in a musical household; her father played piano and sang at a local restaurant. "I listened to Ella Fitzgerald and Liza Minnelli, Barbra Streisand and James Brown," she told a CNN interviewer. "I listened to a lot of soul and jazz, and of course, Italian pop music." On her eighth birthday, she reminisced to VH-1, her father asked what she wanted as a gift. No doll or toy for Laura: "I want to sing onstage with you," she said. From that day, she said, "I knew that I wanted to be a singer with my father. I sang for ten years with him." At age 12, Pausini wrote her first song, "Let Me Sleep," which she characterized as "a very easy, stupid song," about unrequited love. It did help her realize, however, that pop music was her stylistic choice. She idolized Whitney Houston while growing up; later influences included Stevie Wonder, Sade, Norah Jones, and India.Arie.
Spurred by her father's ambitions, Pausini was entered into singing contests. When she won one such competition, she was invited to compete at the San Remo Song Fesitval, an event Pausini likened to a musical Super Bowl. In 1993, at age 18, she won San Remo with a ballad called "La Solutudine" (Loneliness); "the day after everybody in Italy recognized me," she told VH-1. "My life changed completely!"
Pausini released her debut, self-titled album in 1994; the disc reached double-platinum sales in Italy, selling in excess of 400,000 units--an accomplishment made all the more meaningful as "it was achieved during one of the worst years of political and economic crisis in Italy's recent history," as Mark Dezzani noted in Billboard. Listeners in Holland, France, and Germany followed suit, according to Dezzani, and at 19, Pausini, after finishing her school exams, hit the touring circuit, "drawing audiences of up to 8,000 a night, and [constructing] the beginnings of a promising international career."
Television appearances helped Pausini's popularity grow. In 1994, for example, she was invited to perform on Dutch television during the Miss Holland beauty pageant. "We had a great sales reaction" after that appearance, Warner Music executive Ted Sikkink told Dezzani. "She sings unbelievably well, she is spontaneous and sympathetic, and you just fall in love with her, even on TV."
For all her success in Europe, however, Pausini had not yet broken into English-language markets. She recorded an English version of "La Solutudine" with lyrics by Tim Rice, but the single was not released in either the United Kingdom or the United States. For the remainder of the 1990s Pausini continued to release well-received albums in Europe. By late 1998 she had begun to make more headway internationally, debuting in Latin America with a Spanish-language version of her album La mia reposta (My reply); the collection included an English-language song, "Looking for an Angel," written especially for her by Phil Collins. The singer's management strove to make her American transition a smooth one. For La mia reposta, "we used U.S. studio musicians" in Los Angeles, said manager Alada Gandini in a Billboard interview with Dezzani. "The arrangements are electronic instead of orchestral," further reflecting American tastes.
In 2001 Pausini--still in her 20s--released a "best of" album that shot to number one in Italy and hit the European top 100 charts at number 12. This album was slated for worldwide release, with a Spanish version earmarked for Spain and the Latin American market. Indeed, the Italian singer had made important inroads in the Latin music scene. "Singing in Spanish proved to be easy for me because, even if I didn't speak the language at first, the cadence was similar to that of the dialect spoken in my native Bologun area," she commented to Music & Media interviewer Mark Worden. The day the Latin Grammy nominations were to be announced--September 11, 2001--Pausini was in Los Angeles. Though she was nominated for four awards, the tragic terrorist events of that day overshadowed any other publicity.
Pausini finally made her all-English debut in 2002 with the album From the Inside. "English took me two years to learn," she told the CNN reporter. "It's strange, because when I'm singing in English, I lose a little bit of the Italian accent, and my record company [Atlantic] is very happy about that." The album's first single, "Surrender," has "a bit of a strange story surrounding it," she remarked. "It was the last song that I did," but then her label contacted Pausini pitching another song--"Surrender"--that they predicted would be "a smash." "I said, 'Surrender'? Are you serious? I don't want to sing any song about surrendering to anyone!" But Pausini heard the number and admitted that the piece was not only a smash, "but the song was about who I am."
Though Pausini had written her own songs for several years, the cuts in From the Inside came from a variety of writers and producers associated with such pop stars as Madonna, Santana, and 'N Sync. Going into the production of the album while recovering from the breakup of a long-term relationship, Pausini told her songwriters that she "wanted the truth," as she related to VH-1. "I wanted From the Inside to be like a reflection of myself.... I was sharing my life with the man I loved for nine years. Now I'm suddenly alone. I wanted to explain that in this album. Usually I like to write songs about love and experiences. This album is only about love."
Assessing her chances of becoming an American success, Pausini told VH-1 that "some singers, friends of mine, think that I'm crazy. But I wanna try. I don't feel scared of it. I feel a responsibility to my country because I'm the first one."
by Susan Salter
Laura Pausini's Career
Began singing with her father at age eight; won San Remo Song Festival competition, released first album, Laura, 1993; began international tour, 1994; released first Spanish-language album, 1995; released first English-language album, From the Inside, 2002.
Laura Pausini's Awards
Winner, San Remo Song Fesitval, 1993; World Music Award, Best Selling Italian Artist, 1994; Lo Nuestro Award as the most promising Latin artist in the U.S., 1995.
- Selected discography
- Laura Pausini , CGD, 1994.
- Laura , CGD, 1995.
- Le cose che vivi , CGD, 1996.
- La mia reposta , Warner Music Italy, 1998.
- Tra te e il mare , WEA Latina, 2000.
- Best of Laura Pausini , CGD East West/Warner Music Italy, 2001.
- From the Inside , Atlantic, 2002.
February 8, 2006: Pausini won the Grammy Award for best Latin pop album for Escucha. Source: Grammy.com, http://grammy.com/GRAMMY_Awards/Annual_Show/48_nominees.aspx, February 9, 2006.
April 27, 2006: Pausini won the Billboard Latin music award for female Latin pop airplay song of the year, for "Viveme". Source: Billboard.com, www.billboard.com/bbcom/awards/index.jsp, April 30, 2006.
- Billboard, February 12, 1994, p. 80; September 24, 1994, p. 44; October 31, 1998, p. 66.
- Music & Media, November 12, 2001, p. 9.
- "Italian Diva Hopes U.S. Will Surrender to Her Sound," CNN, http://www.cnn.com (January 3, 2003).
- "Laura Pausini: All about Diva," VH-1, http://www.vh1.com/ (February 2, 2003).
- Laura Pausini Official Website, http://www.laurapausini.com/ (February 2, 2003).