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Andrea Bocelli Bio
Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli was born with poor eyesight due to congenital glaucoma that led to total blindness after a soccer incident when he was 12. Even before that, he was a music enthusiast, finding comfort in the art. At the age of 6, Bocelli began piano lessons, and would soon enough take up saxophone, trumpet, harp, flute, guitar, trombone, and drums.
He also sang and, when he was 14, won the Margherita d'Oro in Viareggio with a performance of O sole mio. While in law school, Bocelli spent his evenings singing in piano bars.
In 1992, Bocelli got a fantastic break. The Italian rock star Zucchero was looking for a tenor to sing a demo for the song “Miserere” to send to Luciano Pavarotti. Bocelli's rendition so impressed Pavarotti, that the legendary singer encouraged Zucchero to use Bocelli instead of himself. Zucchero insisted that Pavarotti do the recording, but did use Bocelli on his 1993 tour.
With that momentum, Bocelli signed a record deal with Sugar Music and releasing his debut album, Il Mare Calmo della Sera. He also continued to break records with his scores at various singing competitions throughout Italy. He also performed at Pavarotti's annual Charity Gala in 1994, even dueting with Pavarotti. That same year, Bocelli appeared as Macduff in Verdi's Macbeth at the Teatro Verdi in Pisa, his opera debut.
Bocelli's next two albums – Bocelli and Viaggio Italiano – appeared in quick succession in 1995. His "Con te partirò" became the best-selling single in history in Belgium. The following year, Bocelli performed with English soprano Sarah Brightman for German IBF World Light-Heavyweight boxing champion Henry Maske's final fight. Their performance and recording of the song "Con te partirò" as "Time to Say Goodbye" was a smash hit with sales of more than three million copies.
Recognizing the success of his duets, Bocelli did more of them – with Hélène Ségara and Marta Sanchez. Awards and accolades continued to flood in as those projects made him a star in France, Belgium, and Spain. Amidst his 1997 touring schedule, Bocelli performed twice for the Pope.
For 1998, Bocelli released Aria - The Opera Album and began building his audience in the U.S. with appearances at the Kennedy Center and the White House, along with being named one of the 50 most beautiful people in the world by People magazine. By summer's end, he sold out Madison Square Garden.
When Céline Dion introduced his appearance on her television special by saying, "I heard someone say – If God had a singing voice, he would sound a lot like Andrea Bocelli." His popularity in America skyrocketed as a result of the endorsement, his performance on the show, and their duet of “The Prayer,” which was nominated for multiple awards.
Bocelli followed up on that success with more touring and special appearances, and by making his U.S. operatic debut in Jules Massenet's Werther at the Detroit Opera House. When he released Sacred Arias, the album topped Billboard's Classic chart, with his Aria, the opera album in second place, and Viaggio Italiano in the third seat, making him the first-ever artist to hold all three top spots.
To capitalize on the momentum, Bocelli embarked on a world tour in 2000 and continued to rack up awards. In 2001, his album, Cieli di Toscana, was released following the release of a new recording of Verdi's Requiem featuring him as the tenor. By this point, Bocelli had sold more than 40 million records worldwide.
More and more special appearances filled his schedule as Bocelli sang for heads of state, royalty, charity and other events, and the like. His 2002 Sentimento album sold over two million copies globally in its first 40 days of release.
For 2003, Bocelli appeared in Madame Butterfly and also saw his second full operatic release in Tosca. He even performed “Ave Maria” at Pavarotti's wedding before continuing on with his world tour. His third opera, Il trovatore, came in 2004. Asia, the U.S., Hungary, Italy, Norway, Croatia, Serbia, the UK, Dubai, Switzerland, Scandinavia, and Germany were all stops on his 2005 travels, as was Sesame Street.
The following year found Bocelli on American Idol as a vocal coach and guest performer. By this point in his career, every Bocelli release and performance seemed to garner praise. Titles such as "Best Italian Artist" and "World's Best-selling Classical Artist" were bestowed upon him.
In 2009, Bocelli switched gears and issued My Christmas which was produced by David Foster and became the best-selling holiday album of the year. Their Andrea Bocelli & David Foster Christmas Special for PBS eventually became a global broadcast. Appearances at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, along with on The View, The Today Show, The Jay Leno Show, Larry King Live, and The Oprah Winfrey Show further solidified his American audience's loyalty.
Kicking off 2010 with a performance of "Bridge over Troubled Water" at the Grammy Awards alongside Foster and Mary J. Blige, Bocelli was also honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. More world touring and special events filled out his schedule, along with the fifth and final staging of Teatro del Silenzio in his hometown.
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