MasterClass Monday: The Brilliance And Genius Of Canadian Music Icon Gino Vanelli

Years ago, one of my favourite artists on the planet was Canadian singer – songwriter, Gino Vannelli. His sophisticated musical style resonated with me because he was able to fuse a distinctive pop style with a bluesy and jazz component that tapped into every fibre of my musical being. He also had a classical approach which I loved and appreciated so, for me, Gino Vannelli came into my life with all the bells and whistles.

As a vocal teacher, I tried to expose my students to every style of music, but classical music was at the core of their vocal development. And, for some, the musical genius of Gino Vannelli became part of their learning experience, mainly because Gino had such a fondness and appreciation for classical music.

However, not everyone could emulate his bluesy soulful style but a few special students were able to do so. Gino was a tough cookie to crack but some came pretty close to creating the recipe behind his musical sound. And, when this happened, it was exciting times in my music studio. Amazing memories.

So, today, as I was out walking, I called up my Apple Music App to see if Gino's "Wheels Of Life" song was available. And – voila – it was! And, instantly, I was brought back to the 70s and 80s like it was yesterday. I had lost track of this incredible musician and wanted to reconnect somehow and bring awareness to those who may not have discovered him years ago.

So, I was hoping that the research for this article would tell me that he was still active and successful. And the answer was affirmative. And happily so!

As a Canadian jazz-pop artist, Gino Vanelli, has enjoyed a very successful, yet uneven, musical career. It was definitely multi-layered in that he was a rising star in the 1980s and then fell below the radar soon after. There was an ebb and flow to his career that I am sure was frustrating to him and to his fans.

However, true talent never dies. It just changes direction sometime, expands and tries new ideas or explores new adventures or opportunities. And this pretty much sums up the stellar musical career of Gino Vannelli and his bio confirms it. His ability to appreciate and perform many genres of music, from classical to jazz, puts him in a very elite group of artists.

His songs have been recognized with awards and accolades and his charisma, vocal and musical skills were and still continue to be the stuff of legends. Because of this, he has garnered a huge international following and is pretty much unstoppable. He even gives Vocal Masterclasses! How cool is this?

Below, you will see and hear an abbreviated version of his "Wheels Of Life". It cuts out after the 1:38 minute mark – just before the best part. However , you can download on iTunes or stream it on Apple Music. It is excellent and the star quality of this artist is visibly evident.

The second video highlights the diversity of Gino Vannelli. His "Canto" album ( download or stream) is a return to his classical roots and features his Parole Per Mio Padre number which caught the attention of Pope John Paul II who requested a performance of the song at the Vatican. The entire album is beautiful but this song in particular is exceptionally so and his performance is exquisite and expressive.

Update: I added a third video of his hit "I Just Wanna Stop". Oooo. It is golden. Download on iTunes or Stream on Apple Music.

So, my MasterClassLady.Com friends, what say you? I hope you love this artist as much as I and will add him to your play list. He is, as they say in the business, the real deal.

About Masterclass Lady

Rosanne (Giallonardo) Simunovic began her musical career in Timmins, Ontario. She studied piano with Anne Pizzale and later, at an advanced level, with Soeur Anita Vaugeois (Sister Cecile of Les Soeurs De L’Assomption in Timmins). Her vocal and accompaniment skills were nurtured by her aunt, the late Dorothea Mascioli. When Rosanne graduated from O’Gorman High School, she moved on to the University of Toronto where she continued her piano and vocal studies while attaining a Bachelor of Arts Degree. She was hired as a piano accompanist for several musical companies, most notably, the National Ballet Of Canada. She presently holds an A.R.C.T. Teacher’s Diploma in Voice from the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. Rosanne has studied choral conducting with numerous well known Canadian Conductors, including Wayne Riddell of Montreal, Quebec and the internationally renowned Dr. Elmer Iseler. She has been a founding member of numerous community-based arts organizations: the Timmins Arts Council, later known as Arts & Culture Timmins, the Timmins Symphony Orchestra, and, the Timmins Youth Singers…as well as the TYS Alumnus choir, the Timmins Concert Singers. In 1987, she was also selected to be the conductor of the Timmins Board Of Education Choir, comprised of talented students from Grades 5 to 8. In 1988, she was elected to the Board Of Directors of the Ontario Choral Federation (now known as Choirs Ontario), where she served as Chair of the Festivals Committee for six consecutive seasons. In 1996, in honour of the Ontario Choral Federation’s 25th Anniversary, Rosanne was selected as one of 25 recipients of the OCF’s Distinguished Service Award for outstanding contribution to the choral art. The ceremony was presided by Lieutenant Governor, Hal Jackman. In November 1997, Rosanne Simunovic was selected by the Rotary Club Of Timmins to receive the prestigious Paul Harris Award for her years of dedication to the artistic development of young musical talent in Timmins. In August of 2002, Rosanne Simunovic was selected by the Board Of Directors of Choirs Ontario to serve as Conductor of both the Provincial Junior and Teen Choir Camps, now renamed in honour of the Camp Benefactors, Don and Lillian Wright. In November 2002, Rosanne was the one of the recipients of the Commemorative Medal for the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, honouring her work in the development of the arts in Timmins. Under Rosanne Simunovic’s direction, the Timmins Youth Singers and the Timmins Concert Singers have been featured in numerous choral festivals and performing opportunities outside of Timmins. In 1985, they were selected to partici

3 Responses to “MasterClass Monday: The Brilliance And Genius Of Canadian Music Icon Gino Vanelli”

  1. I have been a longtime fan of Gino Vanelli. Wheels of Life, whenever I hear it, takes me back to the best times of my life in 1978-79. That song still resonates today, it’s a timeless classic. The whole record, Brother to Brother, was played and played till I wore tracks in the grooves of the LP.
    I remember seeing Gino in the early ’90’s in Winnipeg, at a local venue that was small and quite intimate. Needless to say I came away even more impressed than I was before about the extraordinary talent of this man. His vocals were some of the best I’ve ever heard live, and yes for the Internet generation this is how it’s done folks, no pitch perfection, no autotune just a glorious gift from the heavens. I’ve also loved some of the jazz infused material he’s tackled, with just as stunning results. It’s good to know that he is still making music, as the world needs to hear true talent when it exists.
    I also heard the story of how he got signed to A&M records in the early ’70’s. Talk about persistent and never say die. He sat at the gates of the entrance to the studios and waited till Herb Alpert drove in, chased him and handed him his demo tape. A day later he got a call to come in and record some demo material, and the rest as they say is history. Moral of the story, if this is your passion and you have the chops, never give up and you will be victorious eventually, no matter the obstacles.
    Thanks for highlighting one of my all time favorite vocalists and songwriters!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Vocab Mad – thank you so much for such a beautiful response to this article. I was hoping that I would reach a different audience – one that truly appreciates the gift of this impeccable artist. So far, it is an audience is two – you and me – but, hopefully, others will discover the brilliance of this man. How fortunate you are to have seen him in an intimate setting. I wish…. Maybe someday. Thank you so much once again


  3. There’s a name I haven’t heard in a while. I have a couple of Gino’s albums, “Brother to Brother” and “Powerful People” I think. I didn’t know he is Canadian or that he did other than Pop music though.

    Honestly, his music worked to good effect years ago in my dating era, and provided a few tracks for “mixed tapes,” as well as big, BIG sound for my big, BIG stereo of the day. I don’t think I would care for it much anymore. I particularly liked the tribute song he did after the death of Jim Croce.

    Gino had (has?) a great voice and I would be interested in hearing him do something in a much more stripped down style.

    Liked by 1 person

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