Gino Vannelli (born June 16, 1952) is a Canadian singer, songwriter, musician and composer.
Born in Montreal, Quebec, Vannelli is one of three sons (Joe, Gino, and Ross) born to Russ and Delia Vannelli. Russ, his father, was a big band musician. As a child, Gino's greatest passion was music, and he began playing percussion at an early age. By the age of 15, Gino began writing songs. Just out of high school, he signed his first recording contract with RCA under the pseudonym Vann Elli, but went on to study music at McGill University.
After a stint in New York City, Vannelli and his brothers went to Los Angeles in a financially distraught and desperate state to wait outside trumpeter Herb Alpert's locked gate for an audition. Alpert was Vannelli's last hope prior to heading back to Montreal the next day. Alpert liked what he heard and two days later signed Vannelli with A&M Records, releasing his first album in 1973. Vannelli's brother, Joe, served as arranger and keyboardist for most of his recording career. At a time when polyphonic synthesizers were non-existent, Joe overdubbed multiple parts to create a texture of sound that was progressive for the early 1970s.
In 1974, "People Gotta Move" made it to No. 22 on the Billboard Top 100 (#21 in Canada). On February 15, 1975, Vannelli became the second Caucasian performer to appear on Soul Train (Dennis Coffey appeared on January 8, 1972). This was his television debut. With his records climbing the charts, Vannelli toured as the opening act for Stevie Wonder. In 1978, the song "I Just Wanna Stop" earned Vannelli an American Grammy Award nomination and was a number No. 1 single in Canada (#4 in United States). Vannelli's album Brother to Brother was certified platinum in early 1979. Vannelli won Canada's Juno Award for Best Male Artist. Vannelli also won Juno Awards in 1976 and 1979. Vannelli's additional recordings of the 1970s include: "Crazy Life," "Powerful People," "Storm at Sunup," "The Gist of the Gemini," and "A Pauper in Paradise".
In April 1981, "Living Inside Myself" was on Billboard's Top 100 at number 6. Canadian comedy legend Eugene Levy satirized Gino in Episode 4 of SCTV/Network 90 also in 1981. The Vannelli brothers shared the Juno Award for Recording Engineer of the Year in 1986 for "Black Cars". The Juno Award for Recording Engineer of the Year was again shared by the Vannelli brothers in 1987 for "Wild Horses" and "Young Lover". Gino's additional recordings of the 1980s era include "Nightwalker" and "Big Dreamers Never Sleep".
During this time, he married Patricia, with whom he would have a son, Anton.
In 1990, the album Inconsolable Man delivered new releases by Vannelli to excellent reviews. In 1991, the Vannelli brothers shared the Juno Award once again, for "The Time of Day" and "Sunset on L.A.", both from the Inconsolable Man CD. In 1993, French-speaking Quebecer singer Martine St. Clair recorded "Wheels of Life" as a duet with Vannelli as well as a French-language version called "L'Amour Est Loi". On Vannelli's next CD release, Yonder Tree, he pays homage to his roots in jazz (apparent on his earlier albums). On Yonder Tree, Gino sings a musical tribute to the renowned poet, author and humanitarian Walt Whitman, in "Walter Whitman, Where Are You?" Vannelli's additional recordings of the 1990s include: "Live in Montreal," and "Slow Love".
The latest recordings released by Vannelli are "Canto" and "These Are the Days". He surprised the music world by revealing his operatic license in "Canto", which heralds Vannelli's superlative vocals in Italian, French, Spanish and English. The Northwest Orchestral Assembly is also featured on the "Canto" recording, which aired on CBC in Canada. Vannelli was commissioned by the Vatican to perform for Pope John Paul II. On the "Canto" recording is a loving tribute to Vannelli's father titled, "Parole Per Mio Padre", which was also a favorite of Pope John Paul II. Vannelli's electrifying vocals and music garnered rave reviews for "Canto". "These Are the Days" made yet another hit; a wonderful combination of Vannelli's new releases and classics.
2000s and beyond
Gino Vannelli lives and works in Amersfoort, Netherlands and in the United States. His music is also heard on popular European television and radio commercials. When not in concert, Gino is actively working on various projects and teaching Master classes.
In March 2007, Vannelli performed in Las Vegas to sold-out shows. By request, encore performances were given two months later at the Flamingo Showroom. In November 2007, Vannelli gave three sold out performances in New Orleans, Louisiana. The concerts were a humanitarian effort with proceeds benefiting local charities. By popular demand, Vannelli continues to tour globally.
In 2008, Vannelli became a symbol of sorts for the National Basketball Association championship run by the Boston Celtics. After each blowout home victory during the 2008 season, the video crew at the TD Banknorth Garden played a clip from Dick Clark's American Bandstand that featured a bearded disco dancer clad in a tight Gino Vannelli t-shirt. The tradition became known in Boston as "Gino Time" and Gino t-shirts became common at Celtics games. The Wall Street Journal reported in 2008 that the dancer in the Gino shirt was a young man named Joseph R. Massoni, and that he had died from pneumonia in 1990. He was only 34 years old.
In October 2007, Vannelli performed in a small setting with Dutch sextet Uropa in the small yet renowned music cafe "De Noot" in Hoogland near Amersfoort.
On May 13, 2014, Vannelli's the "Live in LA" CD/DVD compilation was released by the Sono Recording Group. The recording was recorded live onstage at the historic Saban Theater in Los Angeles, California on November 8, 2013, which represented Vannelli's first performance in Los Angeles in more than 15 years. The recording also marking the first on-stage collaboration in many years between the three Vannelli brothers (including Ross Vannelli as producer, editor, and mixer).