Award-winning Venetian vocalist Giada Valenti whisks her audiences away with pageantry and poignancy, dazzling them with her breathtaking vocals, captivating beauty, and her lavish stage presentation. Though every facet of her artistry has been meticulously nurtured—from her prodigious musical talents to her theatrical savvy as a performer—one thing is in the moment every night: her heart. That is because the New York-based artist has been brave enough to heed the calling of her soul.
“I could have had a safe life back home in Venice with my parents, but I dared to dream big. When you do this, people will say you’re crazy,” the iconic performer says. “But don’t listen, push through the sweat, the hard work, the risks, and the rejection, and you’ll see, dreams do come true.”
Giada’s currently celebrating a career milestone with her PBS television special From Venice With Love which is now being released as a CD and DVD. The show is a carefully curated celebration of romance that embraces a wonderfully eclectic canon of classic and contemporary love songs. Within the stunning From Venice With Love show, Giada gorgeously reimagines songs made popular by such diverse artists as The Carpenters, Rosemary Clooney, The Beatles, The Doors, Christina Perri, The Bee Gees, Linda Ronstadt, Dusty Springfield, Roberta Flack, Bread, and Domenico Modugno, among others. The show is filmed in electric New York City, but the DVD is interspersed with transcendent footage of Giada’s beloved home, Venice, Italy. This year, Giada will support this mesmerizing release with a 25-date US tour.
In From Venice With Love, Giada takes her audience on an unforgettable journey of emotionality and elegance. Giada brings to America the spirit of Venice through her sensual sophistication in fashion, her well-timed sense of theatrics and the show’s set design, which evokes the lavishness of fine Venetian architecture. The major revelation of the show is, of course, Giada’s voice. A master singer with an emotive flair, Giada has a profound sense of dynamics and a boundless range, especially here, being backed by some of modern music’s most masterful and intuitive accompanying musicians. Giada can be sensual and sweetly tender, soar with angelic purposefulness, and fill the concert hall with a robust full voice. Throughout the unforgettable show, Giada has the audience in the palm of her hand, sharing reflective anecdotes and warm asides, and engaging with sensual charm.
A PBS special is landmark event for any performer, but for Giada, there is another layer of significance to the association. “When I came to America, I used to watch PBS’s children’s programming to improve my English,” she reveals laughing good-naturedly.
Giada was born and bred in Venice, Italy, and showed prodigious musical promise as early as seven, when she began studying piano and vocals. As a child, she would go on to electrify audiences in regional competitions, wowing audiences with her musical talents and her natural gifts as a performer.
She honed her skills studying piano and music theory at the Santa Cecilia music school in Venice, and later through achieving her music degree at the G. Tartini in Trieste. After her formal education, she skyrocketed to the top rung of Italy’s music artists, winning prestigious awards and charting with hit songs. After moving to New York, Giada earned the distinction of being the subject of two hour-long documentaries about her life by the highly regarded Italian television network Sky Italia and Rete 4.
Giada has been in New York for over a decade now. For three years, she was a fixture on the red carpet at the Columbus Day Parade, performing annually the song “Caruso” from her critically acclaimed independently released CD, Italian Signorina. In 2008, iTunes has selected Giada’s interpretation of “Caruso” as one of the 50 best recordings in the Italian language.
On stage, Giada shines most purely. She was handpicked by producer Sonny Grosso (The Godfather, The French Connection) and musical director Phil Ramone (Billy Joel, Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra) to be cast in the Broadway musical Be My Love based on the life story of tenor Mario Lanza. Her shows in cabarets, fine hotels, and elegant theaters have been sold out affairs, showcasing her imagination, and the depth and diversity of her musical talents.
One thing paramount to all of Giada’s success has been her humility and her commitment to giving back. “My grandmother once told me: ‘When you become successful, you are who you are not because of your God given talent, but you are there because people love you so always give something back.’ I never forgot that,” she says.
It’s no surprise that because of her character and values, Giada has been recognized by many esteemed organizations. In October 2008, Giada was named Woman of the Year by the Organization of Italian Charities In America. In February 2010, she was honored by the Commission for Social Justice of the Order Sons of Italy in America for being a good Italian role model. In October of 2011, Giada was awarded the Merit of Honor by the Borough President of Queens, NY for her outstanding cultural contribution to the Italian community in the USA. In April 2012, she was honored by the Saint Brigid Parish for he Distinguished Service in Promulgating the Beauty and Value of Italian Culture and Heritage. In November 2012, she was honored by the Italian American Labor Council for her Work, Achievements, and Life Dedication to Music. Giada is also a nine times recipient of a Grant of the NIAF Sergio Franchi Music Foundation.
Throughout her journey, many things outside music have transformed her life. One painfully complex event happened just as she moved to New York on the heels of a frenzy of major record label interest. Right as she was closing in on her dream of establishing her career in the US, she found herself battling a life-threatening illness that involved fainting daily. The cause, Giada found out, was three tumors in her pancreas. After intense surgery, Giada fought miraculously for her health, and then she had to reclaim her career. Her PBS special has been a special reward for her soulful resilience.
“A lot of people, when they’re on their deathbed say ‘I wish I said this, or did this, or lived in this way.’ But I got a second chance, and now I want to make the world a better place. Now, I cherish every moment. I know I am lucky to be here and still be able to share my gifts,” Giada says.
One other profound life change after her health scare has been a new interest in Transcendental Meditation through the renowned David Lynch Foundation. “Learning to meditate has helped me to be calmer, sleep more, and be more productive. It’s totally changed my life,” Giada says.
Also enriching Giada’s life is connecting to her beloved hometown through its delicious culinary tradition, and through writing about Venice. Giada is a long time member of the Academia Italiana della Cucina, a cultural organization recognized by the Italian government that checks Italian restaurants around the world. She is an in-demand writer and blogger about Venice and the Venetian lifestyle. Recently, she was handpicked by Arianna Huffington to be a contributor of the Huffington Post. Of masterful meals, Giada says: “There is an Italian saying: ‘The whole world eats to stay alive, and we Italians stay alive to eat.’”
When Giada reflects back on her life and her powerful journey, she says: “My story has been really to look for happiness, and spread happiness to others. What’s kept me going throughout everything is dreaming—dream big—that’s what keeps me going.”