October is celebrated as Italian-American Heritage Month in the United States

“Every year the U.S. president signs an executive order designating the month of October as National Italian American Heritage Month. Coinciding with the festivities surrounding Columbus Day, the proclamation is recognition of the many achievements, contributions, and successes of Americans of Italian descent as well as Italians in America.
Over 5.4 million Italians immigrated to the United States between 1820 and 1992. Today there are over 26 million Americans of Italian descent in the United States, making them the fifth largest ethnic group.* The country was even named after an Italian, the explorer and geographer Amerigo Vespucci.
As Americans, we acknowledge the determination and achievements of Italians within the United States. It is our understanding that during the month of October, Italian Americans are given recognition because they play a vital role in altering the political, social,and economic aspect of our country.”
(Source: Marist College, NY)

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Italian music today (IT/EN)

Italian music is overwhelmingly known all over the world. But what kind of music do people from around the globe associate with Italian music? They (too) often associate it with classical music or authors from the past because those are the artists that made Italian music as famous outside the country as it is today.

Singers and authors who shaped the history of music in Italy, but are no longer searched for by the new audiences, go abroad to continue their career. There are plenty of examples: Al Bano, Toto Cotugno, and Pupo are still searching for fame and success and since the Italian audience has got over their music, they search for glory in Russia and eastern Europe, and others like them in Asia, South America, North America.

So this is what they export to other countries and Russians, Americans, Asians, and other people, think that this is what Italian music still sounds like, but it’s not their fault obviously, it’s actually the singers’. They just want to be famous and they don’t think that they should give up on their career, even after having a had a great one in their own country (and being elderly, let’s face it).

If you actually came to Italy, you would know that the singers mentioned above are no longer the reality, and that new and young singers are now taking the scene. Thank God, I might add! There is need for fresh and new music and this is what we should tell the world as Italians. It’s not always about the past, it’s about the future. It’s about giving the possibility to new generations to do something with their lives (this is relevant in all fields in Italy, mostly in the work-related one).

This is the reason why I have made a playlist containing songs by new artists and singers, songs that young people listen to today. I felt it was necessary because you want Italian music to listen to and I want to give you something fresh and real, not the same old, and often too stereotypical, music. So below you can listen to my playlist:

It contains songs by singers and bands, like ArisaNoemiNegramaroArticolo 31Subsonica, for example. Have you ever heard of any of them?

So I guess my point is that opera music or classical singers and authors are part of Italian music, but they do not represent it completely. For example, I think that Il Volo are great, but they export a kind of music that in Italy is listened to by a niche audience; their style is outdated. But then, they have concerts worldwide and dates go sold out because their music matches the idea or the visualisation that foreigners have of Italian music. They have huge success everywhere but Italy. That is something to think about.

Today rap or hip-hop music is really big in Italy, but did you know that? Did you know that we have always had a lot of Italian rappers? Probably not, because that doesn’t fit in the collective imagination about Italian music. In the playlist you will also find songs by Italian rappers, such as Fabri FibraJ-AxBaby K, etc.

The aim of this post is to get you to know other aspects of Italian music, to get you to know new singers and new songs. So hopefully this was useful to you.

What’s your take on this? What Italian singers/bands/artists are famous in your country?

Also, leave a comment below telling who is your favourite Italian artist! And as Cesare Cremonini would say, “share the love” and this post with your friends!

 


La musica italiana è estremamente conosciuta in tutto il mondo. Ma che tipo di musica le persone nel mondo associano alla musica italiana? (Troppo) spesso l’associano alla musica classica o autori del passato perché sono stati loro ad aver contribuito alla fama mondiale della musica italiana.

Cantanti e autori che hanno dato vita e forma alla musica italiana, ma che non sono più cercati dal nuovo pubblico, vanno all’estero per continuare le loro carriere. Ci sono molti esempi di questo: Al Bano, Toto Cotugno, Pupo ancora cercano fama e successo, ma siccome il pubblico italiano è andato oltre la loro musica, ne vuole di nuova, loro cercano la gloria in Russia, in Europa dell’est, e altri come loro in Asia e nel continente americano.

Gli abitanti di questi paesi pensano che questi cantanti rappresentino la musica italiana di oggi, ma non è colpa loro, sono indotti a pensare questo perché questi cantanti non si arrendono alla fine della loro carriera, non si vogliono arrendere nonostante abbiano fatto una grande fortuna nel loro paese (e siano ormai anziani, diciamolo).

Se veniste in Italia, vi accorgereste che i cantanti che ho appena menzionato non rappresentano più la realtà musicale, e che ci sono tanti nuovi e giovani cantanti alla ribalta. Per fortuna, aggiungo io! C’è bisogno di nuova musica e questo è quello che dovremmo comunicare al mondo da italiani. Non bisogna sempre soffermarci sul passato, per quanto meraviglioso possa essere stato, bisogna guardare al futuro. Si tratta di dare un’opportunità alle nuove generazione di fare qualcosa della loro vita (e questo è applicabile in tutti i campi in Italia, soprattutto in quello del lavoro).

Questo è il motivo per cui ho creato una playlist di canzoni italiane che contiene la musica degli artisti di oggi, le canzoni che il pubblico di oggi ascolta. Ho pensato fosse necessario visto che voi mi chiedete quale musica potete ascoltare e io, di conseguenza, voglio darvi una risposta vera, non le solite risposte vecchie e a volte stereotipate.

La playlist contiene canzoni di cantanti e gruppi, come ArisaNoemiNegramaroArticolo 31Subsonica. Avete mai sentito parlare anche solo di uno di questi artisti?

L’obiettivo di questo post è semplicemente mandare il messaggio che la musica italiana non è solo musica classica, opera e canzoni degli anni ’50. Tutto questo è una delle tante sfaccettature, non rappresenta il panorama musicale italiano nella sua totalità. Per esempio, penso che i ragazzi de Il Volo siano davvero bravi, ma in Italia sono ascoltati da un pubblico di nicchia, hanno uno stile datato (per non dire vecchio). Al contrario, sono molto apprezzati nel mondo e i loro concerti fanno sold out perché la loro musica combacia con l’idea che il mondo ha della musica italiana. Questi ragazzi hanno successo in tutto il mondo, tranne che in Italia. Questo è uno spunto di riflessione.

Oggi il rap e la cultura hip-hop vanno molto in Italia, lo sapevate? Sapevate che abbiamo sempre avuto molti rap italiani? Probabilmente no, perché non corrisponde all’immaginario collettivo sulla musica italiana. Nella playlist trovate anche canzoni di rap italiani come Fabri FibraJ-AxBaby-K, ecc.

Con questo post voglio farvi conoscere l’altra faccia della musica italiana, voglio farvi conoscere nuovi artisti e nuove canzoni.

Qual è la vostra opinione? Quali cantanti/gruppi/artisti italiani sono famosi nel vostro paese?

Un’altra cosa, lasciate un commento scrivendo qual è il vostro artista italiano preferito! E, come direbbe Cesare Cremoni, “share the love” e condividete questo post con i vostri amici!

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Quel Mazzolin di Fiori: I Campagnoli and the Italian American Folk Revival

I Campagnoli marching in a parade in downtown Pittsburgh, 1980s. I Campagnoli Papers & Photographs, Detre Library & Archives at the History Center. Gift of Mary Ferro.
I Campagnoli marching in a parade in downtown Pittsburgh, 1980s. I Campagnoli Papers & Photographs, Detre Library & Archives at the History Center. Gift of Mary Ferro.

Musicologist Alan Lomax stated that “the first function of music, especially of folk music, is to produce a feeling of security for the listener by voicing the particular quality of a land and the life of its people.” Apropos that the Italian Sons and Daughters of America’s folk music and dance troupe would call themselves I Campagnoli, which translates to “of the people” in English. Beginning in the mid-1960s, Pittsburgh’s premiere Italian folk troupe traveled the Mid-Atlantic region and beyond and cultivated a following of thousands as they performed in the dialects of Northern, Central, and Southern Italy, as well as Sicily and Sardinia. More than just purveyors of pure entertainment, the members of I Campagnoli recognized their role as the keepers of “at-risk” traditions; they were acutely aware of the loss of Italian language skills among the descendants of Italian immigrants and the loss of dialect and folk customs of Italy. Their canon embodies a pan-Italian sound that could have only formed in the Italian diaspora and their live performances offered an escape for their immigrant fans that longed for the sounds of their homeland.

Jane Ferro and Blaise Panizzi dance in a piazza in Italy, 1987. I Campagnoli Papers & Photographs, Detre Library & Archives at the History Center. Gift of Anna Marie Fiori.
Jane Ferro and Blaise Panizzi dance in a piazza in Italy, 1987. I Campagnoli Papers & Photographs, Detre Library & Archives at the History Center. Gift of Anna Marie Fiori.

Conceived by the Italian Sons and Daughters of America (ISDA) at the birth of the ethnic folk revival and the tapering of Italian immigration to the United States, I Campagnoli began as mainly first and second generation working class Italian Americans versed in the culture of their Italian-born parents; as they evolved, members of the third and fourth generation and people of mix parentage joined the troupe. The brainchild of Ruggero J. Aldisert, circuit judge of the United States Court of Appeals and president of the ISDA, the group’s objective was to bring together members of ISDA lodges who were interested in performing folk music and dances to promote Italian culture. I Campagnoli was the first initiative in the ISDA’s newly formed Cultural Heritage Foundation, a non-profit created to “plan and present programs representing and encouraging Italian culture and heritage in the arts, literature, and music.”[1]

Since 2015, I have conducted fieldwork to document the history of I Campagnoli in the Senator John Heinz History Center’s Italian American Collection. This production has yielded a collection of costumes, instruments, sheet music, member scrapbooks, video and audio recordings of performances, and other ephemera produced by their members. I also conducted oral history interviews with a dozen former members to preserve individual voices. Seminal moments from their five-decade history are recalled in this aural record including their 1965 debut performance at Heinz Hall, performing at the Italian Pavilion’s grand opening at Walt Disney World’s Epcot Center in 1982, the “Best of Italy” tour in 1987, and performing for Luciano Pavarotti in 1994.

[1] Judge Ruggero J. Aldisert, I Campagnoli Program

Hand painted tambourine used by I Campagnoli members, 1980s. Heinz History Center Collections, gift of Anna Marie Fiori.
Hand painted tambourine used by I Campagnoli members, 1980s. Heinz History Center Collections, gift of Anna Marie Fiori.
Liner notes from an I Campagnoli cassette tape, 1980s, gift of Mary Ferro. I Campagnoli Papers & Photographs, Detre Library & Archives at the History Center. Gift of Mary Ferro.
Liner notes from an I Campagnoli cassette tape, 1980s, gift of Mary Ferro. I Campagnoli Papers & Photographs, Detre Library & Archives at the History Center. Gift of Mary Ferro.
Sheet music collected by I Campagnoli former director Lorenzo Malfatti, 1960s. I Campagnoli Papers & Photographs, Detre Library & Archives at the History Center. Gift of Mary Ferro.
Sheet music collected by I Campagnoli former director Lorenzo Malfatti, 1960s. I Campagnoli Papers & Photographs, Detre Library & Archives at the History Center. Gift of Mary Ferro.
Mary Ferro’s dance shoes, 1980s. Heinz History Center Collections, gift of Mary Ferro.
Mary Ferro’s dance shoes, 1980s. Heinz History Center Collections, gift of Mary Ferro.
Dominic Palombo made this homemade triccheballache, a Southern Italian instrument made of wooden mallets that clack in a rhythm, 1980s. Heinz History Center Collections, gift of Anna Marie Fiori.
Dominic Palombo made this homemade triccheballache, a Southern Italian instrument made of wooden mallets that clack in a rhythm, 1980s. Heinz History Center Collections, gift of Anna Marie Fiori.

A special thanks to Angeline Collura, Joseph D’Andrea, Mary Ferro, Dolly Capparelli Ferraro, Anna Marie Fiori, Osvaldo Fontecchio, Virginia Greenaway, Adeline Makar, Blaise Panizzi, Mary Pat Petrarca, Nick Scalise, and Ann Tambellini and all their efforts to document I Campagnoli in the History Center’s Italian American Collection.

Melissa Marinaro is the director of the Italian American Program at the History Center.

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