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Canada 150


      Un Momento with Daniela Nardi

      Oct. 13, 2015

      Daniela NardiDaniela Nardi is not only a spectacular singer/songwriter, but she is also the founder and artistic director of the musical and cultural movement known as Espresso Manifesto. Nardi has won many awards and nominations for her smooth jazz CDs and songwriting. Her music, however, is more than just inspired jazz interpretations or powerful original songs. Nardi’s music transcends the boundaries of genre and enters directly in to the heart. Much like the aroma of a smooth well-brewed cup of espresso on a cool autumn morning. Her new album, Canto, comes out on October 16.

      How did your Salone di Cultura start and what is the purpose of this event?

      The reason for the Salone was that I wanted to create an environment to celebrate and showcase contemporary Italian and Italian-Canadian artists. I wanted to create a vehicle for what we are doing now, as Italian 2.0, a forum to showcase where we are, what we are doing, how we are contributing and how we are moving forward.

      What are your plans for future Salone di Cultura events?

      What I would like to do is create more cross continent collaborations, to have Italian artists collaborate with Italian Canadian artists. Immediately, we are working on a fundraising campaign to get our 2016/17 artistic programming in place with a series of events and conversazioni, and we are looking to create an Italian Jazz Series for June 2016.

      What is Espresso Manifesto and how did it start?

      Espresso Manifesto was a name I came up with over 20 years ago. I didn’t know what or how I would use that name, actually I thought that perhaps it would be a screenplay or a novella or something along those lines. But in 2009, when I was going through a songwriting block, I was living in NYC with my husband at the time and we went to see Jovanotti at Joe’s Pub. It was in that moment, that aha moment where I realized that I wanted to sing in my native language – and Espresso Manifesto came to be. I was made very aware of the fact that mainstream audiences don’t realize the depth and scope of Italian popular music, that it goes beyond Opera and “O Sole Mio“. So I wanted to do my part to showcase the great Italian songbook and contribute some of my own works as well.

      What is your songwriting process? Do you write the music or lyrics first?

      I always write the music first, though while composing, as I am humming along, words will come out, titles, nine times out of ten, the title for the song will come out from my noodling at the piano, but there are times when I know I want to write a song called “blah blah.” The complete set of lyrics though come after the fact because I need to have the melody first, then I can make the words fit.

      What is one of your most memorable live performances, and why? 

      The most memorable performance was when we played the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall in Moscow. It was at the time when the whole Crimea situation was erupting, so the streets were filled daily with protests. The tension was palpable. But in the concert hall, with people who didn’t understand a word of English let alone Italian, they were moved, they were touched, they were sooooooooo thrilled and happy to have us there. They were overflowing with their appreciation. The hall itself had a dance school inside the building. One young man said, he heard the music and had to come down to listen because it inspired him to dance. It was a profoundly beautiful moment and the most memorable moment ever at a concert.

      What part do you think your Italian background plays on your song writing and music?

      I would think the strong sense of melody, the need for a beautiful melody, the emotion, the effortless simplicity but most importantly – beauty. We Italians are always working towards and motivated by the beautiful.

      If you could play with or write for any musician alive or dead, who would it be and why?

      Very very hard to answer but if I could, I would get the two people who inspired me on the pop singing and songwriting path, into a jam session: those two people are Sting and Annie Lennox. I started to write songs and play bass because the song “Roxanne” just pierced through to my core and made me realize that songwriting was a craft I wanted to hone my singing, Annie’s voice was a voice I could relate to. Her songwriting is pretty stellar too and she was also a songwriting influence. But yeah, a jam session/writing session with my two inspirations would be an honour, a thrill, surreal and profound.

      You collaborated with writer Gianna Patriarca on your new album. How did that come about and how was it?

      I am lucky enough to be able to call Gianna my dear friend. I have been a fan of her work for some time and to call her my friend, is a blessing. She had shared with me a song she had contributed lyrics to for another artist and I said to her, well, then let’s you and I do something. I wanted to contribute original material to Canto so this was a perfect opportunity. We thought of a theme, she did her magic, I contributed a bit to the words and then I wrote the music with my bass player, Mike Downes. As a result of this group collaboration, we have a haunting lament entitled “Amami Ancora.”

      What advice do you have for young musicians starting out today?

      My advice would be that this supposed notion of the starving artist, thinking that there’s something noble in that, is nothing but a myth. There’s nothing romantic nor glamorous about this business. It’s just hard freakin’ work and many times the work isn’t even rewarded. It’s important to do the work because you want to do the work, not for any particular accolades, awards, or whatever. That it is a business like any other business, and in some cases, we spend more time than most, honing our craft – so honour your value. Do the work, work hard, take care of your business, be grateful and be real.

      What are you working on now?

      We are getting ourselves ready for the release of Canto, my fourth studio album, with a CD release show at Lula Lounge on October 28, and other dates in and around Southern Ontario right now. Also, I am working on rebranding the Salone to be officially “Espresso Manifesto: Music | Arts | Culture.” We have a series of shows which will be like fundraisers for the 2016 Italian Jazz Series we are creating and putting together the artistic plan for 2016/17. I am tired just thinking about it!

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