The Providence area’s large Italian-American population has Zucchero, known as Italy’s greatest popular singer, eagerly looking forward to his concert this Thursday at the Park Theatre.
“I think that’s why we’ve always sold out in New York City,” he says. “The excitement starts as soon as I get on stage. It warms the atmosphere. The audiences know me. I can sing some of my repertoire in Italian. It makes it more genuine.”
The first part of the show will be songs from “Chocabeck,” his latest album, which includes collaborations with Bono and Brian Wilson. The album celebrates Zucchero’s childhood in a small country village in northern Italy. It’s a time and place he wishes could be a model for modern life.
“The world is moving too fast now,” he says. “Life is too complicated. Back then everything was more human. When I was a kid we had ideals of tolerance and solidarity – genuine things.
He concedes that there were plenty of conflicts back then. “All week long the Catholics and the Communists would scrap, but on Sunday they’d come together. They’d love each other as human beings. Of course on Monday they’d be at each other again, but they knew what they shared as well.
“Today, everything is very political and combative. Italians are very frustrated and nervous because of the political situation. Throughout Europe everyone is so touchy because of the economic problems. And that’s why we need music more than ever. Music is a cure.”
Zucchero insists that music talks in a language all its own. “It’s not really important if you don’t understand all of the lyrics,” he says. “It’s the vibes that people understand.”
Throughout his long career, he has stressed the social, healing power of his art. Years ago, performing with Luciano Pavarotti, he helped devise the Pavarotti & Friends charity gala, a series of benefit concerts now held annually. Touring in New York City, he appeared with Elton John and Stevie Wonder, among others, in the Rainforest Benefit at Carnegie Hall.
His collaboration with Bono, famous for his humanitarian work, is a continuation of these efforts. “I remember how emotional and excited Bono was when he wrote the lyrics for ‘Someone Else’s Tears,’” he says “Those are such deep lyrics. He’s world famous but very humble and very genuine. That’s what a musician and a human being should be.”
Zucchero’s current tour began May 9 in Zurich and has gone all over Europe before reaching Canada in September.The 60th show went on this week in Montreal.
“It isn’t easy for an Italian artist to play all around the world,” he says. “But I’ve worked for many years, and maybe now I’m harvesting some popularity.
“Music may not be the entire solution for all of the world’s problems, but it helps all of us remember our humanity. It reminds us that we have to be more concerned with other people everywhere.”
Tickets may be purchased at the Park Theatre box office via phone (467-7275) or online at www.parkTheatreRI.com.