Sunday, March 28, 2010


Well, it's still Saturday in the UK, the USA and lots of other places in the world!

This week it has to be Mina, Italy's first lady of pop, who celebrated her seventieth birthday on Thursday.  Here's my article about her for Italy Magazine:

Mina, Italy’s Queen of Pop, is seventy years old today. The event is being celebrated in the music world everywhere and Mina has already received birthday wishes from Barbara Streisand, Quincy Jones and Lisa Minelli, Ansa reports.

In Italy there are TV and radio specials, including a documentary on Rai Storica, “La Tigre di Cremona”, to be broadcast tomorrow at 09.20 and 18.20. Mina’s albums from 1994 – 2009 are to be reissued on vinyl and there is an album of previously unpublished photos here.

Anna Maria Mazzini was born in Busto Arsizio [Lombardy] in 1940. Later the family moved to Cremona. She first sang publicly in club whilst on holiday in 1958 and after that she started performing rock and roll with various bands. She soon refined her style and became known for her versatility. She dominated the Italian pop scene throughout the 1960s and 1970s.

Her personal life was not conventional, however, and she was banned from Rai in 1963 because of her relationship with a married man. Rai also banned several of her songs, which dealt with contemporary issues such as religion and sex. But love songs, which Mina performed dramatically, were the most popular with her public. Her ballad “Grande, grande, grande” was performed all over the world and was a hit for the British singer Shirley Bassey.

Mina has not performed in public since 1978 but she has never stopped singing: she releases an album every year and in 2009 her version of “Nessun Dorma” was the theme song of the Sanremo Song Festival. This unconventional version was criticised by many in Italy. Do listen and let us know what you think:

To date, 98 of Mina’s albums and 70 of her singles have been listed in the Italian charts. Her son, Massimiliano Pani, tells Ansa that the diva is very unsentimental, having once thrown away a telegram from Sir Paul McCartney. The famous blue dress she wore to sing “Le mille bolle blu” at Sanremo also went in the bin. Mr Pani puts this down this to his mother’s refusal to take herself too seriously and her determination to look to the future.

Italy Magazine wishes you “tanti auguri”, Mina.

Who is your favourite Italian singer?
What’s your favourite Italian pop song?

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