Laura Pausini becomes first Italian woman to win a Grammy

Thu, 02/09/2006 - 23:36

Laura Pausini was feted by the Italian pop world on Thursday after she became the first Italian woman to win a music industry 'Oscar'. The Italian pop princess, who picked up this year's Grammy award for best Latin pop album, received dozens of messages of congratulation from fellow singers and performers back home.

Among those expressing their satisfaction over the historic moment for Italian pop were the politically engaged rapper Jovanotti and veteran crooner Claudio Baglioni. Pausini, 31, who has a huge following in Latin America, won her Grammy for 'Escucha', the Spanish-language version of her latest album, Resta In Ascolto (Keep Listening).

"This is the biggest joy of my life," she said after receiving the award in Los Angeles on Wednesday evening and then weeping for 10 minutes.

The proud winner, who had Giorgio Armani design her a special dress for the event, admitted that she fainted when she learned she had joined the ranks of stars like Ricky Martin, Jose Feliciano and Enrique Iglesias.

"My knees just gave way," she said.

Later, when her nerves were calmer, she dedicated her prize to her country and admitted that over the last year or so her career had taken a distinct upturn. "I notice it because when I go out on the street here in Los Angeles people recognise me," she said.

The only other Italian singer to ever win a Grammy was the legendary Domenico Modugno, with his 1958 classic 'Nel blu dipinto di blu', which contains the famous refrain 'Volare...Oh oh oh oh!"

Along with Eros Ramazzotti and Zucchero, Pausini is one of Italy's few pop stars with an international following. She always takes a 'magic wand' around with her, a lucky charm given her years ago by two friends.

Although relatively unknown in Britain and the US, her powerful voice and song-writing skills have made her hugely popular in Europe and South America. She has sold over 22 million records worldwide.

Pausini exploded onto the Italian music scene in 1993 when, at the age of 18, she was the surprise winner of the prestigious Sanremo music festival. Since then she has picked up an array of awards and last year featured on an album of duets with late soul legend Ray Charles. But the Grammy is undoubtedly her highest accolade yet.

Italy scored another of the awards on Wednesday thanks to classical pianist and conductor Claudio Abbado, who won the award for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance with orchestra.

Italy was up for another Grammy award with composer Andrea Guerra nominated in the category of best song written for a motion picture or television. However, his song Million Voices, written with Jerry Duplessis and Wyclef Jean for the film Hotel Rwanda, lost out to Believe, written by Glen Ballard and Alan Silvestri for the film Polar Express.

Had Guerra won, he would have joined the ranks of Italian composers Ennio Morricone and the late Nino Rota.