Negrita: The heart and soul of Italian alternative rock

March 2017 |  By: Tony Marotta

Tra le tante rock-band Italiene spiccano i Negrita, band originaria della Toscana che ha collezzionato negli anni successi dopo successi. La loro avventura, iniziata nel 1991, li ha portati in giro per l’Italia ed il mondo. Non ostante un cambio di formazione la band ha ancora tanto da dire. Con ben nove album pubblicati all’attivo i Negrita rappresentano una delle piu’ affermate rock-band Italiane.

Negrita is an original Italian alternative rock band that specializes in a high-energy style that over the years has featured elements of blues, grunge, reggae and Latin sounds and rhythms. Their story begins in the village of Capolona (Arezzo, Tuscany). In 1991, founding members Paolo Bruni, (lead vocals and guitar), Enrico Salvi (guitar), Cesare Petrecich (guitar), Franco Li Causi (bass) and Roberto Zamagni (drums) decided to circulate some demo tapes of their early compositions to various independent radio stations and producers throughout the underground musical circuit.

 

Their first efforts were unsuccessful until they met Fabrizio Barbacci, a young producer whose body of work includes the likes of noted Italian artists such as Ligabue, Gianna Nannini, Francesco Renga, Roy Paci and Piero Pelù. He was so impressed with their style that he immediately signed them to a recording contract with Black Out Studios, a label of the PolyGram division of Universal Music.

The final step was to change their name from Gli Inudibili to Negrita, which was derived from The Rolling Stones song, “Hey! Negrita.”

In August of 1993 they gathered at IRA Studios in Firenze and began writing the songs that would be a part of their debut recording, Negrita. The album yielded three singles: “Cambio,” “Rumore” and “Lontani dal mondo,” and achieved gold status. Their success and rave critical reviews allowed them to close out the year with a lengthy 140-club tour throughout Italy.

Upon their return from the road, Negrita entered the studio and recorded the follow-up mini-album, Paradisi per illusi (1995), which contained 6 songs including a lengthy 15-minute ghost track. The release achieved sales of over 60,000 units, again reaching gold status, and spawned two singles, “Oltre il confine” and “Io sono.”

The band conducted another exhaustive domestic tour, which included fewer dates, but this time in front of bigger crowds in larger venues.

Negrita began pre-production work in preparation for the release of their next album in February of 1997. Surprisingly, they chose to return to their hometown of Capolona and set up a studio in a farmhouse on the outskirts of town. The band then flew stateside to Kingsway Studios in New Orleans, LA to complete the recording of the songs with the final mastering of the album taking place at Village Studios in Los Angeles. The end result was the release of their third recording, XXX. This album was a commercial success as it achieved platinum status, selling over 100,000 units and yielding four hit singles: “In un mare di noia.” “Sex,” “Ho imparato di sognare” and “A modo mio.”

The DVD release of XXX immediately followed and captured the band’s entire American recording experience. The XXX Tour saw them opening up for legendary Italian rocker Ligabue as they performed in stadiums throughout Italy and Europe until the end of the year.

Having achieved incredible success in four short years, Negrita took a short break from the music scene and decided to construct their own recording studio facilities. Hollywood Garage was built in Arezzo and afforded the band the opportunity to complete the recording of the soundtrack to the film Cosi é la vita (1998), which starred popular Italian comedians Aldo, Giovanni e Giacomo. The single “Mama Maé” was taken from the movie soundtrack and was included in the band’s fourth release, Reset (1999). This album featured a more electronic feel and achieved an even greater success, reaching double platinum status.

Negrita released three more successful singles: “In ogni atomo,” “Fragile” and “Hollywood” and closed out the millennium by receiving a nomination at the 1999 MTV European Music Awards as “The Best Italian Group.”

After a pause of 18 months, Negrita returned to the studio refreshed and went back to a more hard-edged rock sound with the release of their fifth album, Radio Zombie. Although the album achieved only moderate sales, it was still certified gold and the three singles “Bambole,” “Non ci guarderemo indietro mai” and “Vertigine” received ample playtime over the airwaves.

The group chose to compile their best songs from the previous decade into a greatest hits package entitled Ehi! Negrita and included three new songs, “My way,” “Magnolia” and “Tonight,” the last of which they presented at the 2003 Sanremo Music Festival.

The grind of constant recording and touring took its toll on the group as original member and drummer Roberto Zamagni chose to leave the band in order to dedicate more time to his family. Despite the loss, Negrita persevered and released two more platinum-selling recordings L’uomo sogna di volare (2005), which features some songs that have a decidedly reggae-like feel, and Helldorado (2008), which was influenced by Latin sonorities. Both albums contained numerous hits and the band recorded Spanish versions of these singles where they sold well in Spain and Latin America.

The band is firmly entrenched as one of Italy’s top rock acts and their tour schedule now includes stops worldwide, where they enjoy particularly great success in South America. For more information visit their website at www.negrita.com.

 

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