Gino Vannelli (born , 1952) is an Italian-Canadian singer, songwriter, musician and composer.
Born in Montreal, Quebec, Vannelli is one of three sons born to Russ and Delia Vannelli. Russ, his father, was a big band musician. As a child, Gino's greatest passion was music, and he began playing percussion at an early age. By the age of 15, Gino began writing songs. Just out of high school, he signed his first recording contract with RCA under the pseudonym Vann Elli, but went on to study music at McGill University.
1970s - Early career
After a stint in New York City, Vannelli and his brothers went to Los Angeles, California. He signed with Herb Alpert's A&M Records, releasing his first album under that label in 1973. Gino's brother, Joe, served as arranger and keyboardist for most of his recording career. At a time when polyphonic synthesizers were non-existent, Joe overdubbed multiple parts to create a texture of sound that was progressive for the early 1970s.
In 1974, "People Gotta Move" made it to #22 on the Billboard Top 100. On 15 February 1975, Vannelli became the second Caucasian performer to appear on Soul Train (Dennis Coffey appeared in 1971). This was his television debut. In 1978, the song "I Just Wanna Stop" earned Gino an American Grammy Award nomination and was a number #1 single in Canada (#4 in United States). Vannelli's album "Brother To Brother" was certified platinum in early 1979. Gino won Canada's Juno Award for Best Male Artist. Vannelli also won Juno Awards in 1976 and 1979. Gino's additional recordings of the 1970s include: "Crazy Life," "Powerful People," "Storm at Sunup," "The Gist of the Gemini" and "A Pauper in Paradise".
In April 1981, "Living Inside Myself" was on Billboard's Top 100 at number 6. Canadian comedy legend, Eugene Levy satirized Gino in Episode 4 of SCTV/Network 90 also in 1981. The Vannelli brothers shared the Juno Award for Recording Engineer of the Year in 1986 for "Black Cars". The prestigious Juno Award was again shared by the Vannelli brothers in 1987 for Recording Engineer of the Year for "Wild Horses" and "Young Lover". Gino's additional recordings of the 1980s era include: "Nightwalker" and "Big Dreamers Never Sleep."
Vannelli broke away from the stereotypical role of sex symbol by removing himself from the media spotlight.
In 1990, the album Inconsolable Man delivered new releases by Vannelli to excellent reviews. In 1991, the Vannelli brothers shared the Juno Award once again, for "The Time of Day" and "Sunset on L.A.", both from the Inconsolable Man CD. In 1993, Qu?ęb?ęcoise singer Martine St. Clair recorded "Wheels of Life" as a duet with Vannelli as well as a French-language version called "L'Amour Est Loi". On Vannelli's next CD release, Yonder Tree, he pays homage to his roots in jazz (apparent on his earlier albums). On Yonder Tree, Gino sings a musical tribute to the renowned poet, author and humanitarian Walt Whitman, in "Walter Whitman, Where Are You?" Vannelli's additional recordings of the 1990s include: "Live in Montreal," and "Slow Love".
The latest recordings released by Vannelli are "Canto" and "These Are the Days". He surprised the music world by revealing his operatic license in "Canto", which heralds Vannelli's superlative vocals in Italian, French, Spanish and English. The Northwest Orchestral Assembly is also featured on the "Canto" recording, which aired on CBC in Canada. Vannelli was commissioned by the Vatican to perform for Pope John Paul II. On the "Canto" recording is a loving tribute to Vannelli's father titled, "Parole Per Mio Padre", which was also a favorite of Pope John Paul II. Vannelli's electrifying vocals and music garnered rave reviews for "Canto". "These Are the Days" made yet another hit; a wonderful combination of Vannelli's new releases and classics.
2000s and beyond
Gino Vannelli lives and works in Amersfoort,The Netherlands as well as the United States. His music is also heard on popular European television and radio commercials. When not in concert, Gino is actively working on various projects and teaching Master classes.
In March 2007, Vannelli performed in Las Vegas to sold-out shows. By request, encore performances were given two months later at the Flamingo Showroom. In November 2007, Vannelli gave three sold out performances in New Orleans, Louisiana. The concerts were a humanitarian effort with proceeds benefiting local charities. By popular demand, Vannelli continues to tour globally.
Gino Vannelli with Uropa appearing in De Noot, Hoogland, Netherlands.
In October 2007, Vannelli performed in a small setting with Dutch sextet Uropa in the renowned yet small music cafe "De Noot" in Hoogland near Amersfoort. This performance in front of a happy few 100 was a try-out with the new band. The reception was warm even though some of the bar regulars were educated on how to pay respect to a performing artist. It was an inspired and inspirational gig.
Gino's latest CD was released in Europe early 2009. He toured the Netherlands for a few gigs with a Dutch All Star Band (Maastricht JazzFestival amongst others).
In June 2008, the Wall Street Journal reported on a recent phenomenon involving "Gino" at Boston Celtics home games. When a Celtics win is certain, the PA monitor will play a montage of clips from the popular 1970's dance program American Bandstand, set to disco music. One of the most notable dancers in the montage is a smoothly-dancing bearded young man dressed in black bell-bottomed pants and a T-shirt emblazoned with the name "Gino," from Vannelli's 1976 "Gist of the Gemini" tour.
Because of his attire, the young man became known as "Gino" to the Celtics faithful, and was adopted as an unofficial mascot of sorts. Celtics fans began sporting homemade "Gino" shirts at the games, and Vannelli himself, amused by all the attention generated by "Gino," briefly authorized sales of the "Gist of the Gemini" T-shirts on his own website, with the proceeds going to charity.
A Boston Globe sports columnist created a semi-spoof documentary titled "Finding Gino" in an attempt to track down the young man in the archival clip. The columnist was unsuccessful, but the Wall Street Journal article finally solved the mystery of "Gino"'s identity ("'Gino' Fever Grips Boston", June 6, 2008, p. B10). "Gino" was identified as Joseph R. Massoni, from Rialto, California. Massoni had appeared on a 1977 episode of American Bandstand accompanying a friend. The "Gino" shirt he had worn the day of the taping had actually been borrowed from the friend with whom he had gone to the show. Sadly, it was discovered that Massoni had died of pneumonia in 1990; he was only 34 years old.