Francesco De Gregori, “Prince of Singer-Songwriters” to make US Debut
Written by Editor on October 10, 2017
New York — October 10, 2017 — Italian singer-songwriter Francesco De Gregori is as esteemed in his homeland as his American contemporary Bob Dylan. After an award-winning career spanning nearly 50 years, De Gregori will finally make his US debut in November. A pair of intimate theater shows has been announced for Sunday, November 5th at The Regent Theatre in Arlington, MA (Boston) and Tuesday,November 7th at The Town Hall in New York City. De Gregori will draw from the breadth of his entire repertoire in these long-awaited American appearances.
Francesco De Gregori was born in Rome in 1951. As a teenager he witnessed firsthand Italy’s political and student movements of 1968 or Sessantotto. Influenced first by Fabrizio De André and later by Bob Dylan, De Gregori began performing live at the age of 17. De Gregori sharpened his skills as a singer-songwriter at the legendary Trastevere club Folkstudio alongside Italy’s new generation of artists includingAntonello Venditti, with whom De Gregori would go on to release a joint debut album.
Francesco De Gregori stepped into the spotlight with his first solo album, 1973’s “Alice non lo sa” (Alice Doesn’t Know). Though not a commercial success, the project yielded what would go on to become one of De Gregori’s best known songs “Alice”. With influences including Leonard Cohen, “Alice” establishedDe Gregori critically as one of Italy’s most promising young voices, earning him the nickname “Il Principe Dei Canautori” (The Prince of Singer-Songwriters).
The 1970’s proved a prolific yet turbulent time for Francesco De Gregori. Collaborations would come in the form of De André himself as well as Lucio Dalla. De Gregori penned a string of classics on the album“Rimmel”. In the meantime, commercial success did not come without a price. At the so-called Palalido concert incident the artist was accosted and accused by a group of activist agitators of condoning capitalism over workers’ concerns. The very real physical threat prompted the De Gregori to take a break from his musical career. His comeback release, an eponymous album which the artist still considers his most accomplished effort, featured one of his most famous songs “Generale” (General). As the decade drew to a close, so did this period known in Italy as Anni di Piombo (Years of Lead), with De Gregorireturning to the stage as a stadium headliner. The 1979 “Banana Republic” tour, album and film project, which featured guests including Dalla and newcomer Ron, was a runaway success.
The 1980’s marks a period of musical maturation for the artist via a myriad of projects, which included working with storied Rolling Stones producer Andrew Loog Oldham and scoring the Monica Vitti film “Flirt”. The soundtrack generated an EP release which included “La donna cannone” (The Cannon Woman), perhaps De Gregori’s most famous song. 1985’s “Scacchi e Tarocchi” (Chess and Tarot) collaboration with Ivano Fossati was an homage to Pier Paolo Pasolini.
A flurry of late-80’s touring led to the release of no less than 3 live albums in 1990. De Gregori’s 1996 studio effort “Prendere e lasciare” (To Take and To Leave) showed the artist’s evolution towards a more modern sound with the help of Italian super-producer Corrado Rustici.
Entering the fourth decade of his career in the new millennium, De Gregori showed no signs of slowing down. Recorded collaborations included “Amore nel pommeriggio” (Love in the Afternoon) with Franco Battiato and Nicola Piovani, with live tours alongside Pino Daniele and Fiorello Mannoia. On “Il Fischio del vapore” (The Steam Whistle), De Gregori paired with Italian folk-singer Giovanna Marini to explore the Italian popular songbook. With songs such as “Bella Ciao” in its original Mondine version, the album proved an unexpected commercial success.
The second decade of the 2000’s finds De Gregori in top form touring throughout Europe. At a sold out 2015 concert held in the spectacular Arena di Verona, in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Rimmel album, De Gregori was feted on stage by today’s leading crop of Italian artists including Ligabue, Elisa,Giuliano Sangiorgi, Fedez and Caparezza.
“De Gregori Canta Bob Dylan — Amore e Furto” (De Gregori sings Bob Dylan — Love and Theft) is the artist’s latest studio album and features translations and interpretations of 11 Dylan songs done “con amore e rispetto” (with love and respect) by De Gregori personally.
Francesco De Gregori is a six-time winner of Italy’s prestigious Premio Tenco (Tenco Prize) and has released 32 albums, both studio and live.
Our interview in Italian is here: