The phrase "well-behaved women seldom make history" appropriately describes the vocational path chosen by Italian singer/songwriter and guitarist Grazia Di Michele. She was born in Rome on October 9th, 1955 and has lived a progressive lifestyle that has manifested itself through her music over the course of her 37 year professional career. She began her musical odyssey in the late seventies by frequenting the legendary "Folkstudio" Music Club in Rome and immediately came into contact with many other aspiring artists. It was here, in this fertile environment, that Grazia honed her performing and compositional skills, attracting the attention of veteran Italian music producer Vincenzo Micocci.
Recognizing her distinct and expressive vocal abilities, he would supervise the release of her debut recording "Cliché" (1978) on his nascent music label "It Records." The album contained acoustical pieces that espoused feminist and social themes written in conjunction with her sister Joanna. The recording went largely unnoticed, but received critical praise for its provocative topics. After a period of reflection and collaboration with others artists in a supportive role, Grazia returned to the studio and released her second album "Ragiona col cuore" (1983) on her new label, PolyGram Records. Her songs dwelled upon mature themes expressed through a sophisticated jazz-rock style and signaled her arrival as an accomplished story-teller. Notwithstanding its inadequate promotion and distribution, the album struck a chord with many new listeners who found its contents fascinating, with the title track receiving significant airtime despite its same-sex relationship overtones.
This new found success would allow Grazia to sign a long-term record deal with WEA Italiana Records and continue her avant-garde approach to musical composition, while maximizing her exposure. Her third recording "Le ragazze di Gauguin" (1986) received the "Premio Vela D'argento" (Silver Sail Award) and yielded two hit singles, which included the title track and "Sha-la-la." Her songwriting displayed a more refined style, while still retaining commercial pop-sensibilities, and she achieved the honor of performing at the 1987 Festivalbar Music Competition. Her fourth album "L'amore é un pericolo" (1988) featured important collaborations with established studio musicians and notable recording artists including Lucio Fabbri, Eugenio Finardi, Walter Calloni, and Vittorio Cosma. The album contained the hit single "Solo i pazzi sanno amare" and she made her first appearance at the 1988 Cantagiro Music Festival.
Grazia began the last decade of the millennium by releasing her first greatest hits compilation aptly entitled "Raccolta" (1990), and was invited to make her debut at the prestigious 1990 Sanremo Music Festival. Her entry "Io e mio padre" was warmly received and fared well, finishing in ninth place among the 20 contestants. She returned to Sanremo in 1991 and presented the song "Se io fossi un uomo" which would make its way onto her fifth album "Grazia Di Michele" (1991). The recording would yield two more successful singles "Giuramenti" and "Valentino" with popular Italian singer/songwriter Massimo Bubola serving as producer of these two songs. Grazia experienced an unprecedented growth in popularity as she was invited to appear on several television specials. She made her next appearance at Sanremo in 1993, performing with her close friend and professional colleague Rossana Casale on the song "Gli amori diversi." The pair finished in third place and their performance earned critical praise. The song remained on the charts for an extended period of time and would find its way onto her sixth recording "Confini" (1993). The album featured the vocal contributions of Eugenio Finardi and Cristiano De André. Despite her success, this would be her last album with WEA Italian Records as they chose not to renew her services. Unconcerned with the dissolution of her contract, she took a break from recording to give birth to her son Emanuele.
Two years later, she signed a new agreement with Sony Records and released her seventh album "Rudji" (1995). The release saw Grazia return to her acoustical roots and some critics have pronounced this as her finest work, to date, with Lucio Fabbri and Tiziana "Tosca" Donati providing their talents to the recording. The label, surprisingly, did not properly promote or support the album. Disillusioned, she reneged on the deal and sought an extended respite from the music scene. With the advent of the new millennium, Grazia returned to the studio refreshed and ready to release her seventh album "Naturale" (2001) on the independent Edel Record label. The recording featured a duet with Luca Madonia and she embarked on a tour in support of the release in order to reconnect with her fan base. She joined Brazilian recording artist Toquinho on his 2003 International Tour. She also participated as a co-host in the 2003 edition of the Amici television talent competition. In celebration of twenty-five years in music, she completed her autobiography "Le corde dell'anima" later that year with the assistance of authors Barbara Mengozzi and Valeria Festa.
Grazia delved into a new activity as she scored the theatrical production of "Chiamalavita" which was produced by Maria Rosaria Omaggio. The proceeds of this "Spettacolo" were donated to UNICEF in order to underwrite the construction of clean drinking water wells in war-torn Iraq. Her next two albums "Respiro" (2005) and "Passaggi segreti" (2009) adhered to a relaxed recording and touring schedule which allowed her to continue her involvement in television and theatrical productions. The recordings displayed Grazia at her creative best as she authored songs that combined profound lyricism with captivating melodies. The singles "Habi" and "Il mare in una stanza" dealt sensitively with the delicate topics of suicide-bombings and family crisis. Her 11th album, "Giverny," was a pleasant departure from her modus operandi, as she released a jazz-influenced recording along with thePaolo Di Sabatino Trio, fulfilling a long-time desire to try her hand at this musical genre.
Grazia returned to Sanremo after 22 years and performed a duet with Italian singer and actor Mauro Coruzzi on the song "Io sono una finestra." The song made its way onto her most recent release "Il mio blu" (2015) which, again, features the talents of the Paolo Di Sabatino Trio and Mario Venuti. For more information you can visit her website at www.graziadimichele.com.
Photo courtesy of www.graziadimichele.com