Eros Ramazzotti on His Unlikely Reign as the "Phil Collins of Latin Pop Radio"

Eros Ramazzotti
Eros Ramazzotti
Photo by Julian Hargreaves
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Let’s be real for a second: Eros Ramazzotti's voice is rather nasally, to say the least. And, yeah, he does sound a bit like an alien whenever he sings in Spanish.

Tonal handwringing aside, Ramazzotti, with his hefty load of bilingual crossover hits, has been a force of nature on Latin pop radio throughout his 30-year career.

An international star in his own right, the Italian musician has won over the hearts of both European and Latin American audiences. His voice has transcended language barriers to resonate with romantics everywhere from Germany to Chile and, indeed, the Magic City. He'll perform for his adoring Miami fans Sunday, March 1, when he stops at the American Airlines Arena.

No stranger to the many shifts in the pop landscape, the singer-songwriter has played with a variety of pop trends throughout his career — from synthpop to ballads, Y2K electro-pop, and Latin-style pop — while keeping his sound as inclusive as his reach.

“I have always stayed true to the many great doors a genre like pop has to offer for artists,” Ramazzotti, also a producer and guitarist, says of his many pop experiments.

However, his trademark sound — which he crafted to in the '90s as he penned his biggest international hits — could best be described as "Phil Collins meets Julio Iglesias or Chayanne." And, yes, that description includes all of the dramatic, orchestral production one might expect from the latter artists. Ramazzotti's strain of adult contemporary was an ideal vehicle for his heartfelt lyrics, unique vocal delivery, and singularly strong Italian accent.

The '90s saw Ramazzotti release his biggest hits, including the inescapable “Cosa Más Bella” and the Tina Turner pop crossover duet “Cosas de la Vida,” which carries a similar sense of scale as the fellow odd-yet-somehow-works genre-bending duet by Santana and Rob Thomas in "Smooth."

Ramazzotti's songs have boasted the same staying power in Latin America as any infectious '80s megahit playing softly through the speakers at the supermarket. And it's quite possible shoppers have heard his voice — whether through "Otra Como Tú" or "Una Emoción para Siempre" — while navigating Publix.

Looking beyond his current reputation, Ramazzotti got his start as a wide-eyed teen who admired the pop and rock of the Anglosphere as well as the Italian singer-songwriters he grew up listening to, including Lucio Battisti and Fabrizio de André.

Asked about the many comparisons between Phil Collins’ music and his own, Ramazzotti is flattered. The pop performer calls the Genesis singer one of his “absolute” idols and a “fully exceptional artist.”

Now in his mid-50s, after many successful records and smash singles across languages and continents, Ramazzotti is gearing up for his Vita Ce N'è Tour. The name translates to "there is life" and was named for his latest album.

The singer is eager to get back on the stage after the tour was postponed for last-minute vocal cord surgery and recovery.

He now feels ready to take on cities such as New York, Boston, Los Angeles, and, of course, Miami, which he says holds a special place in his heart — the city is home to a great number of his Spanish-speaking fans in the United States.

“I’m very excited to get the chance to play in Miami," he says. "I’d been looking forward to returning since my last visit."

Looking back on his long career, Ramazzotti says he is proudest of his collaborations with “extraordinary artists” — which includes artists such as Tina Turner, Cher, Joe Cocker, and Andrea Bocelli — and expanding his international influence.

Though he says he's not exactly sure why his music caused such a commotion in the Hispanosphere, he has a few theories.

“My music is very emotional,” he says. “Latinx people are generally quite passionate and emotional as well. I think that might be what ultimately paved the way for that connection between us.”

But ultimately, it has been his songwriting talent that has shone through and made him the star he is today.

Ramazzotti reminisces fondly about his journey as a singer-songwriter, having improbably not only made a career for himself but also touched the lives of people all over the world. In light of the deep connection he feels with his listeners, he hopes to give his Spanish-speaking audience the show of a lifetime in Miami.

“They are marvelous, open, passionate, and sincere people. I have so much love for my Latin fans,” Ramazzotti says. “Music has the power to break down walls, and in my own small way, I hope I have been able to do that with my music.”

Eros Ramazzotti. 8 p.m. Sunday, March 1, at American Airlines Arena, 601 Biscayne Blvd, Miami; aaarena.com. Tickets cost $45 to $515 via ticketmaster.com.

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