Giuni’s Life and Music

Giuni Russo, the stage name of Giuseppa Romeo, was born in Sicily on September 10, 1951.

Famous for her amazing vocal range, which spanned nearly five octaves, Giuni combined impeccable technique with an original approach to music. Giuni was a unique artist, unusual to the music scene in Italy and beyond. She is considered to have one of the most beautiful voices of all time.

Growing up in a family in which music was the undisputed queen (her mother, like Giuni, was a natural soprano), Giuni began studying composition and singing at a young age, constantly refining her exceptional natural talent.

In 1967, she won the Castrocaro Festival with the song A Chi, by Timi Yuro. This allowed her to participate, a year later, in the Sanremo Festival.

In 1968, using the name Giusy Romeo, she took part in the 18th edition of the Sanremo Festival, singing No Amore. This song became her first single.

In 1969, Giuni made a three-month tour of Japan, reaching her 18th birthday in Tokyo.

In the same year, Giuni met Maria Antonietta Sisini, with whom she would share the rest of her career and life. Giuni made the decision to move to Milan for good.

In 1975, Giuni recorded her first album, Love is a Woman, entirely in English.

In the early 80’s, Giuni began an ongoing collaboration with Franco Battiato.

In 1981, Giuni released the highly-refined album Energie, but her great success arrived the following year, in 1982, with the single Un’Estate al Mare, a song that won Festivabar and hit and remained at the top of the charts for months, making Giuni known to a wide audience.

The resounding success of the song brought great acclaim to the artist. The subsequent releases — Vox (1983), Mediterranea (1984), Giuni (1986), and Album (1987) — revealed an artist continually expanding her vocal experimentation and unique instrumentation.

In 1988, the album A Casa di Ida Rubinstein marked a turning point and the end of Giuni’s pop phase. Giuni sang arias and romances of Bellini, Donizetti and Verdi, in original and unique fusions of pop, classical, and jazz, creating a repertoire that confirmed her commitment to her own musical evolution and call to create cutting-edge avant guarde music.

This release ushered in a period during which Giuni made many prestigious tours, and confirmed her status as the forerunner of “Musica di Confine”, or border music.

In 1992, Giuni recorded Amala, an album of greatest hits.

In 1994, a brand new album, Se Fossi Più Simpatica Sarei Meno Antipatica, was released.

Giuni continued to follow an increasingly eclectic path. She teamed up with poets and writers, studied old sacred texts, and performed many concerts with her newly-created songs.

During this period, Giuni became attracted to Carmelite spirituality. She admired Saint Teresa de Avila, Edith Stein, and St. John of the Cross. Their writings were a continuous inspiration to Giuni.

In 1997, she turned her attention to the theatre, working with Giorgio Albertazzi, singing Borges verses.

In 1998, Giuni’s first live album, Voce Prigioniera, was released.

In 2002, Giuni released Signorina Romeo Live, a selection of songs performed during her concerts. The outstanding track was a version of Sakura, a traditional Japanese song Giuni had come to love during her time in Japan.

2003 marked Giuni’s great return: She participated in the 53rd Annual Sanremo Music Festival, singing Moriro d’Amore, from the new album of the same name.

At the end of 2003, Demo de Midi, a collection of 14 previously unreleased songs recorded in demo form during the ’80s and ’90s, was released.

In 2004, the splendid Napoli che Canta, a musical suite for the 1926 silent film of the same name, by Roberto Leone Roberti, was released in CD and DVD.

In the night between the 13th and 14th of September, 2004, Giuni Russo passed away in her home in Milano.

Giuni’s work continues, with great respect for Giuni’s artistic choices, through M. Antonietta Sisini and GiuniRussoArte, the nonprofit association founded to protect and promote Giuni’s creative heritage. Publications include:

2005: Mediterranea Tour (CD and DVD)

2006: Unusual (CD and DVD)

2007: The Complete Giuni (Three-CD anthology)

2007: La Sua Figura (DVD documentary)

2008: Cercati in Me (CD)

2009: Giuni Russo, Da Un’estate al Mare al Carmelo (book, CD, and DVD) The set, published by Bompiani, includes the official biography, by Bianca Pitzorno and M. Antonietta Sisini; a CD of unedited and previously unreleased versions of songs; and the video La Sua Figura, produced by Franco Battiato.

2011: A Casa di Ida Rubinstein 2011 (CD and DVD), featuring Uri Caine, Franco Battiato, Brian Auger, and Paolo Fresu on the CD.

2012: Love is a Woman (CD) The re-release, on vinyl CD with the original artwork, of the 1975 album.

2012: The gallery of the Zancanaro Theatre in Sacile is dedicated to Giuni.

2012: Para Siempre (CD and DVD) Contains the previously unreleased song Para Siempre, as well as never-before published covers of songs including My Way, People, Yesterday, and New York New York. The DVD includes the Zancanaro Theatre dedication, several songs, and the Napoli Che Canta suite.

2013: Energie (CD) The re-release of the 1981 hit.

2013: Duets is released via digital download. The album contains virtual duets in which Giuni’s extraordinary voice is accompanied by artists including Franco Battiato, Lene Lovich, Caparezza, Tony Childs and the Chorus of the Discalced Carmelites, as well the unedited version of Le Tue Parole, the original demo of Morirò d’amore.

2014: Mirador Giuni Russo, a beautiful plaza and outdoor amphitheater overlooking the sea in Alghero, Sardinia is dedicated to Giuni. Both Maria Antonietta Sisini and Bianca Pitzorno, the author of Giuni’s biography, speak at the dedication ceremony, in which the most emotional moment is the reading of the hand-written letter Pope Francis sent to M. Antonietta after having heard a CD of Giuni’s music.

2014: Three CDs are re-released in May: Morirò d’amore, Demo de Midi, and Napoli che canta.

2014: Giuni Russo Live Tribute. Giuni is honored at the 14th edition of Gran Prix Corallo in Alghero on July 12. Nicola Nieddu is the master of ceremonies for the event, sharing the stage with colleagues and friends of Giuni’s: conductor Mara Venier; singers Lene Lovich, Grazia Di Michele, and Antonella Lo Coco; entertainer Mauro Coruzzi (AKA Platinette); writer Bianca Pitzorno, and the journalistic director of Rockol, Franco Zanetti. A tribute to Giuni Russo would not be possible without honoring Maria Antonietta Sisini, Giuni’s co-author and producer, who was also instrumental in organizing the Gran Prix Corallo.

2014: Eight unedited songs are released on the limited-edition vinyl LP Il ritorno del soldato Russo. Copies are sold out within one week.

2015: In the quincentenary of St Teresa of Avila, a celebration and concert is held in Milano on March 19: Giuni, the Carmelite of Love, an encounter with St Teresa of Avilia, features Dulce Pontes, with Carlo Guaitoli, Marco Remondini, and Stefano Medioli; live electronics by Pino “Pinaxa” Pischetola; and presentations by Mauro Coruzzi and Bianca Pitzorno. The event is presented by the Associazione GiuniRussoArte and the Carmelitane Scalze di Milano, with artistic direction and production by M. Antonietta Sisini.

2015: Las Moradas is released, presenting the previously unreleased and unedited live recording of Giuni’s concert at the Basilica of S. Lorenzo Maggiore in Milano. Songs are based on the work of St Teresa of Avila, St John of the Cross, and other spiritual writings. The CD is dedicated to Pope Francis on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of St Teresa.

2016: Fonte D’Amore is released. The beautiful boxed set contains four albums: the previously unreleased Sharazad; the CD version of Il Ritorno del Soldato Russo, previously released on limited-edition vinyl; and the discs Giuni and Album, previously not available on CD. The set also contains a book of rare fotos, with lyrics.

2017: The biography Giuni Russo: Da un’estate al mare al Carmelo is released with additional content from Maria Antonietta Sisini and Bianca Pitzorno.

2017: Armstrong, released in September as a double CD and vinyl, features unedited songs including Non Voglio Andare Via, also set to a videoclip featuring Maria Grazia Cucinotta.

2018: The first photo disk — a limited-edition LP of the album Giuni displaying the cover photo of Giuni on the vinyl — is released, and contains the ever-popular hit Alghero.

2019: A limited-edition LP of Giuni’s first album, Love is a Woman, is released on International Women’s Day. Additional albums are released in vinyl throughout the year.

2020: Additional LPs on vinyl are released, and the Spotify channel gains more listeners. 

2021: Aliena, a compilation of previously unreleased songs and astoundingly remastered classics let shine the true essence of Giuni’s voice. In Aliena, Giuni’s voice has been freed from the limitations of the less-than-optimal single-track recordings and the 90’s era synthetic accompaniments that masked the brilliance of her voice on many recordings. Pino “Pinaxa” Pischetola brilliantly remastered the songs with newly-laid acoustic accompaniment and fresh sequence and rhythm programming to highlight and cradle Giuni’s voice.

2021: Jazz a Casa di Ida Rubinstein, a boxed set containing two CDs and a DVD, is released. Giuni’s original 1988 release of A Casa di Ida Rubinstein, presenting avant guarde jazz recordings of the arias and romances by Bellini, Donizetti, and Verdi, is brilliantly remastered by Pino “Pinaxa” Pischetola to seemingly bring Giuni’s voice into the concert hall. The 2011 remix of the album, for which Paolo Fresu, Uri Caine, Franco Battiato, and Brian Auger recorded improvs remixed into Giuni’s original, was also remastered to bring out the brilliance of Giuni’s voice and her command of Jazz. The DVD brings us a recording of Giuni presenting these masterpieces at the 1998 avant guarde music festival Il Violino e la Selce, and more.

2022: Limited vinyl editons of some of Giuni’s albums are released.

2022: The city of Palermo, Sicily, the city of Giuni’s birth and childhood, recognizes Giuni by dedicating a memorial at Il Palchetto della Musica, the city’s open stage where Giuni first performed publically at the age of 10.