Tiziano Ferro (born 21 February 1980 in Latina) is an Italian pop singer, songwriter, producer and author. He broke through in 2001 with his international hit single "Perdono" and has remained commercially successful since then, primarily in his home country. Ferro has released a Spanish version of each of his albums, and has also sung in English, Portuguese, and French. Known as the modern face of Italian pop music, he frequently writes songs for other artists and has produced albums for Giusy Ferreri, Alessandra Amoroso and Baby K.
Aside from his success as an artist, Ferro is well known for his personal struggles. Having been overweight as a teenager, he has been outspoken about his battles with food addiction and eating disorders. In May 2006, several comments he made during an interview on Italian television resulted in major controversy abroad, effectively ending his blossoming career in Latin America. In October 2010, at the height of his fame, Ferro came out as gay, admitting that he had remained closeted out of fear that his homosexuality was not compatible with a career as a pop singer.
Since his debut in 2001, Ferro has worked himself up to becoming one of the best-selling artists in Italy today. Both his third album Nessuno è solo and fourth album Alla mia età were certified diamond. Despite his fears, his coming-out did not negatively affect his career, as fifth album L'amore è una cosa semplice was the best-selling album of 2012 in Italy, and the tour supporting this album included his first full stadium concert at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.
Childhood and early beginnings
Ferro's interest in music was born when he received a toy keyboard as a present, which was used to compose his first songs when he was seven. He later started taking guitar and piano classes at a local conservatory of music. When he was 16 years-old, he joined a gospel choir and during the same years, he started performing in piano bars and karaoke contests.
In 1997, Ferro participated in the "Accademia della Canzone di Sanremo", a music contest created with the purpose to choose the contestants of the Sanremo Music Festival, but was eliminated during the first stage of the competition. The following year, Ferro participated again in the same contest, and despite being chosen as one of the 12 finalists, he did not make it to win the competition. However, during the selections, Ferro met music producers Alberto Salerno and Mara Maionchi, and started to collaborate with them.
In 1999 Ferro also toured throughout Italy as a back vocalist with the Italian hip hop band Sottotono.
In 2001, Ferro signed a contract with EMI Music Italy. On 22 June 2001, he released his first single, "Xdono". During the first months, the song received a poor reception, but it later became a hit and, after topping the Italian Singles Chart in September 2001, it was certified double platinum by the Federation of the Italian Music Industry for sales exceeding 100,000 copies.
The song was included in Ferro's debut album, Rosso Relativo, released on 26 October 2001. Following the commercial success obtained in Italy, in 2002 the album was released in several European countries. A Spanish-language version of the record, titled Rojo relativo, was also released in Spain and Latin America. Rosso relativo obtained success in different markets and has sold more than 1,000,000 copies worldwide, according to EMI Music, allowing Ferro to receive a nomination for Best New Artist at the Latin Grammy Awards of 2003.
Second studio album, 111
In November 2003, Ferro released his second studio album, 111, recorded both in Italian and Spanish, produced by Alberto Salerno, Mara Maionchi and Michele Canova. The album was preceded by the release of "Perverso", and also spawned the singles "Sere nere" / "Tardes negras", "Non me lo so spiegare" / "No me lo puedo explicar" and "Ti voglio bene" / "Desde mañana no lo se". 111 has sold more than 1,000,000 copies worldwide, topping the Mexican Albums Chart and being certified four times platinum in Italy for domestic sales exceeding 450,000 copies. Following the success of the album Ferro won Best Italian Artist at the 2004 MTV Europe Music Awards in Rome.
In July 2004, Ferro also released in Europe his first English-language single, "Universal Prayer", a duet with British R&B singer Jamelia recorded to promote the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.
Ferro lived in Mexico during these years, first in Cuernavaca and later in Puebla. He studied Spanish there at a university, eventually graduating in August 2005, before relocating to Manchester.
On 21 May 2006 during an interview on the Italian talk show Che Tempo Che Fa, Ferro talked about his worldwide travels and how he always feels pressured to praise the foreign countries he visits. He jokingly asserted that it is impossible to say that Mexican women are the most beautiful in the world, because "they all have moustaches". Ferro also referred to the country of El Salvador as "a place (he) was surprised it existed", and continued with remarks about the lack of safety in Colombia, and the poor food in Belgium. The interview had dramatic consequences when foreign media took his quotes out of context and he was branded a racist and misogynist. His record company quickly forced Ferro to issue an apology. Four months later, he returned to Mexico to personally apologize, appearing on the television show Otro Rollo where he had his leg shaved as punishment. He talked about his poor sense of humor and said the bad joke was one of the worst mistakes of his life.
Nessuno è solo / Nadie está solo, the third studio album
Ferro's third studio album, Nessuno è solo / Nadie está solo, was released in June 2006, following the lead single "Stop! Dimentica", which became a number-one hit in Italy and Austria. The album, described by music critics as more intimate and melancholic, obtained in Italy a success even bigger than his previous ones, reaching the diamond certification for its domestic sales. The third single from the album, "Ti scatterò una foto", was included in the soundtrack of the movie Ho voglia di te, directed by Luis Prieto and based on the book with the same title by Federico Moccia. Nessuno è solo also features a duet with Italian pop singer-songwriter Biagio Antonacci, while the Spanish-language version of the album includes "Mi credo", a song recorded with Pepe Aguilar.
In Mexico the album was a flop, following the multi-platinum success of 111. Mexican radio stations boycotted the first single in response to the controversy, and the album failed to enter the Top 100 Mexico.
Alla mia età / A mi edad
In June 2008 Ferro co-wrote with Roberto Casalino the single "Non ti scordar mai di me" for X Factor's first edition's runner-up Giusy Ferreri. The song became a huge success in Italy, topping the Italian Singles Chart for 12 non-consecutive weeks. Ferro also produced Giusy Ferreri's debut album, Gaetana, containing 6 songs penned by him, including "L'amore e basta!", a duet between Ferro and Ferreri.
On 7 November 2008 Ferro released his fourth studio album, Alla mia età / A mi edad, preceded by the single with the same title. Alla mia età debuted at number one on the Italian Albums Chart and became the best-selling album of 2009 in Italy, also achieving his second diamond certification. The album contains a duet with famed singer-songwriter Franco Battiato, and "Breathe Gentle", the English version of "Indietro", features Kelly Rowland.
In November 2009, Ferro released his first video album, Alla mia età – Live in Rome, recorded during his concerts at the Stadio Olimpico on 24 and 25 June 2009. A few months later, Ferro was chosen to record the Italian version of Mary J. Blige's single "Each Tear", included in her album Stronger with Each Tear The song reached the top spot on the Italian Singles Chart.
Coming out and autobiography
In contrast to his flourishing professional life, Ferro's personal life was marked by ever increasing despondency. Convinced that he would have to give up his singing career if the truth about his sexuality were ever revealed, he kept family and friends at a distance, living alone in England. He was diagnosed as depressed in 2008 and started taking antidepressants. In late 2009 he came close to taking his own life, going as far as to write a suicide note. In early 2010 his desperation led him to break down and come out to his father, an event that inspired the title of his first book, Trent'anni e una chiacchierata con papà (Thirty years and a talk with dad). This book was published shortly after publicly coming out as gay in October 2010, and contains most of his personal diaries, dutifully kept since his teenage years. The following year Ferro moved back to Italy to end his isolation and live closer to his friends and family.
L'amore è una cosa semplice / El amor es una cosa simple
In October 2011 Ferro released "La differenza tra me e te", the first single from his fifth studio album, titled L'amore è una cosa semplice. The album was released on 28 November 2011 and spent five weeks on top of the Italian Albums Chart. Six more singles were released from the album, which ended up matching the success of Ferro's previous albums. In Italy, it was certified seven times platinum and became the best-selling album of 2012.
During the spring and summer of 2012, Ferro embarked on a largely domestic concert tour, with additional stops in Switzerland, Belgium and Monaco. The tour's highlight was Ferro's first full stadium concert at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. This sold-out concert was attended by 50,000 fans.
In 2013 Ferro opted to focus on collaborating with other artists. Italian female hip hop artist Baby K released her debut album Una seria in March, which was produced by Ferro together with Michele Canova. Ferro featured on first single "Killer", which peaked at No. 10 on the Italian Singles Chart and was certified gold. He also featured on the album's third single, "Sei sola". In September Alessandra Amoroso released Amore puro, another album produced by Ferro and Canova. The album's title track and first single, written by Ferro, peaked at No. 4 on the Italian Singles Chart.
Ferro has announced that he will release his first greatest hits album in 2014.