By Rebecca Bulnes
By Laurie Charles
By Chuck Strouse
By Lee Zimmerman
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By Falyn Freyman
By Hans Morgenstern
Many years later, as she sat facing the interviewer, singer Laura Pausini was to remember those distant afternoons when her father took her to discover her voice. At that time her native town of Bologna, built centuries ago in the north of Italy, hosted singing competitions at festivals and in schools. Her father, whose unbridled imagination heard in his daughter's voice a genius that went beyond her years, thought it would be possible to turn her singing into gold. Her mother, who was a practical woman, was unable to dissuade him. For several years he worked hard to demonstrate the truth of his idea. He took his daughter to participate in the competitions, and each time she lost, he would grab her by the hand, convinced she would triumph in the next competition, and tell her: "This is the last one, Laura."
In 1993 the then-eighteen-year-old Pausini won top honors at Italy's prestigious San Remo Festival with "La Soledad" ("The Solitude"), the song that would become her professional debut. Seven years later, with 14 million copies sold worldwide, the international star thanks her father for his faith in her vocal skills with the song "La Meta de Mis Viajes" ("The Goal of My Journey"). In counterpoint to a lilting piano, her forceful and carefully modulated voice recounts memories of the first day in school and birthdays when work kept her father from her side. Playful strings suggest that the singer grew up happily with the help of her father's love. "[The ballad] is a present for my dad," Pausini explains during an interview at the Delano Hotel on Miami Beach, "a very public way to say thank you to someone that was, and still is, my biggest point of reference. I thought it was time to write a song thanking him for giving me a passion that brings us together: music."
An avid reader, Pausini says she recognized that passion in the pages of the novel One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Colombian Nobel Prize winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez. There she realized her father's fantasy that she would someday be a singer represented in the character José Arcadio Buendia, who believes he will one day fly. The singer identifies Marquez's magical realism as an inspiration for her current album, Entre Tu y Mil Mares(Between You and a Thousand Seas).
The biggest-selling artist at WEA Latina, Pausini has flown further than her father ever imagined, as Entre Tu y Mil Mareswas released in 50 nations. After conquering markets in Europe and Latin America, the Italian singer broke into the United States with her first English-language song, "The Extra Mile," on the Pokémon soundtrack. As befits a song for children, the track's electronic beat, backed by Spanish guitar and jingle bells, makes for easy listening. Pausini says she is comfortable singing in Spanish and is in no rush to sing in English, though she has an English-language disc planned for later this year.
With success has come a grueling schedule of touring and promotion, alleviated only slightly by the deluxe accommodations of the Delano penthouse, where her black hair contrasts sharply against the white walls, white floor, white sheets, and white furniture. Placing a pillow upon her lap, she explains how the past seven years have taught her to be patient and to believe in magic. "Before [life] used to be black or white," she says of the time when she first began touring, "now I've learned how to be more tolerant."
If patience is a virtue learned out of necessity, Pausini's belief in magic developed from someone else's dream and another composer's song. "Entre Tu y Mil Mares" is the first song recorded by Pausini over the course of five albums that she did not write herself. Smiling, she recalls receiving a 3:00 a.m. phone call at her home in Bologna from respected Italian songwriter Biagio Antonacci. A night person, the singer listened, wide awake, as Antonacci recounted a vision he had just had of a song he insisted must be sung by her. "We met the next day," relays the night owl, "and while I was listening to the music, it was as if I had written it myself. I thought it was fascinating."
Seeing herself in the mirror of Antonacci's music, Pausini agreed to make the song her own. "Entre Tu y Mil Mares" starts slowly, establishing an ongoing beat like waves crashing against a rocky shore. Slowly Pausini's voice rises like a wind reflecting the turbulence of her soul, the lyrics expressing resentment: "Yo que habria estado por ti/en cualquier lejana cuidad" ("I who would have gone for you to any faraway city"). Her resentment builds into abnegation. As the drums beat harder, she sings: "No puedo ahora estarme quieta y esperarte/No puedo dividirme ya entre tu y mil mares" ("I cannot now stay still and wait for you/I cannot divide myself between you and a thousand seas"). For it was foreseen that the city of mirrors mirages would be wiped out by the wind and exiled from the memory of men, because lovers condemned to 100 years of solitude do not have a second opportunity on Earth.