Although he doesn’t like being called “New Age,” Yanni is one of the genre’s most popular and successful artists. The Greek-born musician has seen 14 of his albums go to the top of the Billboard’s “Top New Age Album” chart. Yanni, who works as a composers, producer, and keyboardist, creates mostly instrumental works. His music is a blend of styles from all over world and he incorporates those styles with elements from classical and rock and roll. Yanni’s genius stems from his ability to mesh different scales, rhythms, and instrumentations into a coherent and accessible whole.
Yanni’s worldwide fame is built on a series of concerts held at historic monuments. These monuments include the Acropolis, the Taj Mahal, the Forbidden City, the Kremlin, Burj Khalifa, El Morro castle, and the Roman Theatre of Carthage. The first of these concerts, Yanni Live at the Acropolis, is the second bestselling music video of all time (behind Michael Jackson’s Thriller). It was totally financed by the artist.
Since his music is not Top 40 material, and his videos are not suited for MTV, Yanni has used PBS to expand his audience. He applauds the television network for allowing him to do his own thing and on his own terms.
Yanni has not only produced his own concerts and television specials, he also records his albums in his own home studio. About the only thing he doesn’t do is print and collect Yanni tickets. Yanni is a shining example of what one can accomplish without the traditional trappings of the music industry.
Yanni was born Yiannis Chryssomallis on Nov. 14, 1954 in Greece. When he was 14, Yanni set his country’s national record in the 50-meter freestyle. Swimming wasn’t the only activity Yanni took up at an early age. He began playing the piano when he was just six. His parents encouraged his love of music but didn’t enroll him in any formal training. Yanni and his family relocated to the United States around the time of his 18th birthday.
Music wasn’t Yanni’s only career option. In 1976, he graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in psychology. Yanni eschewed the couch when he realized that playing music made him happier than dissecting the human mind. Throughout most of the 1990s, Yanni had a very public relationship with actress Linda Evans.