Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with Giada Valenti over the phone. If I chose one word to describe her, it would be lovely. Not just her obviously beautiful outwardly appearance, but her kind-hearted, humbling, down-to-earth personality. It felt as if I were catching up with an old friend from the minute she said hello. If you can find a chance to meet her or to see her perform, please do. Her spirit is intoxicating and her love for music and the Italian culture is contagious.
JS: Does musical talent run in your family?
Giada Valenti (GV): It skipped a generation in my family. My grandparents on my mother's side were wonderful musicians. My grandmother was a soprano. They studied classical music and because of that, I, too, first began my music career in classical music; operatic and classical piano.
JS: You've spent your whole life performing. What other odd jobs did you do to pay the bills?
GV: I've had the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people through my singing. People in the audience at one of my performances have become friends, business associates and have offered me jobs. I worked as a lawyer's assistant at a renowned law firm in NYC. And, of course, I did many student jobs to help me get by as I performed through the years. In fact, one of the things I love about America is the ability and willingness of Americans to do whatever necessary to make ends meet. In Italy, you study psychology, you work in psychology. If there isn't a job in your area of expertise, you move home with your parents. Americans are open to do anything to reach their dreams. Doctors have waited tables; musicians have worked in law firms. It's one of the things I adore about this country. No one is afraid to do anything. You need money, you work.
GV: I knew at an early age that singing made me happy. And, that's all I want out of life - to be happy. This career choice is very difficult. I was and am very lucky that people connect to my music.
JS: You went through a difficult time with your health not too long ago. How did you not let that serious illness break your spirit? What kept you going?
GV: It's the old cliché: you never know what you have until it's gone, or you almost lose it. I quickly realized how beautiful life is and how important the love and caring of family, friends and even my fans is. So I fought it. And, I'm here. And I'm sharing that love with everyone around me through my music.
JS: Given the chance, who would you like to perform a duet with?
GV: In my book of dreams, I would love to perform a duet with some of the famous "oldies" who are still alive, like Tony Bennett. I would have loved to sing with Perry Como. And Dolly Parton! I love Dolly Parton. I believe that if I would have been born in the U.S., I would have been a country singer! I love everything about country music: the songwriting, the down-to-earth stars, everything. I would love to duet with Vince Gill or Rascal Flats. I cover some country songs - but make them my own, of course.
JS: It's clear that you can really speak to your audiences through your performances. What advice do you have for the younger generation of Italians?
GV: Travel! Get inspired about Italy. Learn everything you can about your country. I always mention this in my shows. Traveling is the perfect way to get connected to your heritage.
GV: I receive many letters from young people asking me how I am able to live my dream and asking for advice as to how they can live theirs. I always say to find something that you love to do. We are all unique and all exceptional at something. I tell them to ask themselves what will make them happy when they wake up in the morning? Find that love and go through thick and thin to get there. Life is tough, but if you love what you do, your happiness is all that matters.
JS: What do you want your audiences to take away from each show?
GV: I want people to leave with a heart full of love and kindness for one another. I love to see couples holding hands or leaning their heads towards each other during a song that must mean something to them. I want people to realize how beautiful love and life is and share it with each other. I hope to create a soundtrack of beautiful moments of love.