Tiziano Ferro and His Life as Voting Member of the Recording Academy: Exclusive Interview

The Italian popstar has a longstanding story with the Grammy Awards, including one that he won without noticing…

Autore Tommaso Toma
  • Il4 Febbraio 2023
Tiziano Ferro and His Life as Voting Member of the Recording Academy: Exclusive Interview

Tiziano Ferr (ph. Walid Azami)

We connect with Tiziano Ferro when it is morning in Los Angeles. Behind his back, we can see the three Grammy Awards that he proudly displays («they’re the only awards that I like to show», he says. «You won’t see any Gold or Platinum record hanging on my walls»).

The “tour de force” for the promotion of his latest album Il Mondo è Nostro is part of the past now. But in a few months another kind of tour will start: the actual live shows. They were delayed several times and Ferro’s audience has been waiting for them with anticipation. It is worth noticing that not many requests of refund were asked for the tickets sold in 2021.

But we are connected with Tiziano Ferro to talk about the Grammy Awards and his life as a voting member of the Recording Academy. Here is the exclusive interview.

Tiziano Ferro (ph. Walid Azami)

The interview with Tiziano Ferro

When did your story with the Grammy Awards start? Your first nomination dates back to 2003…

Exactly, for a Latin Grammy, to be precise. I was one of the five nominees for Best New Artist. I was 22 back then, but I wasn’t really realizing the importance of that nomination. I wasn’t too affected by the enthusiasm that the team of my then label, EMI, was giving me.

It hurts to say this because, if I could turn back time, I’d never behave like that. But at that time I wasn’t doing great. I didn’t even have the “tools” to understand the value of that event, that I didn’t even attend. David Bisbal won, deservedly.

Then I was nominated again thanks to Laura Pausini. I worked with her for Non Me Lo So Spiegare (it was 2007 and he was nominated for the Spanish version of the album Io Canto, ed.) Then I was nominated other times, since I wrote songs for Miguel Bosé. Well, this whole path is important.

In order to enter the Recording Academy, first of all you must collect credits through the nominations. There are son many categories, much more than the few big ones that hit the news. In the eyes of the Americans, I’m not only a singer (like they see me in Italy), but also – and more importantly – a songwriter.

Here in Los Angeles, it often occurred to me to write for other artists. I spent much time with Ryan Tedder (of OneRepublic, ed.). He’s a fabulous producer and a very humble guy. He often invites me to his place, where he also has a recording studio. Here, songwriting is not something for the privileged, like I sometimes perceive in Italy. Here, you risk and always challenge yourself.

Besides the nominations for the Latin Grammy Awards, in 2013 you won a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary/Pop Instrumental Album thanks to Chris Botti.

I have something crazy to tell you. After working splendidly with Chris for Per Te (For You), then sung by Andrea Bocelli on the album, I started moving from Manchester to Milan. One day, I was called by an old neighbour of mine in Manchester. He told me that he saw a package for me with “Grammy” written on it. Well, that neighbour was not the most reliable person ever, so I asked him to describe it. As soon as he went to see, it was no longer there. It was probably stolen. But I didn’t trust that guy that much, so I just didn’t bother.

Then my life went on among psychotherapy, excessive drinking, coming out, a relationship that was not so happy, and many new songs to work on. I lived in a world where I wasn’t aware that I had won a Grammy Award! Fast forward to 2019: I was in Los Angeles, living my life and going around, for example to Amoeba Music.

Wait. Is it really one of your favourite record stores?

Absolutely. It’s a shame they downsized the space with their new shop. But the store in San Francisco is gorgeous – it appears on the artwork of my single Lento Veloce. I love Amoeba. It’s a time capsule that brings you back to the ‘90s with all those shelves full of CDs, vinyl, DVDs, t-shirts…

So what happened at Amoeba in Los Angeles?

Among the CDs, I found a copy of Chris Botti’s Impressions, that featured the song I had written. It had a sticker with the words “Grammy Winning”. So I bought it and realized that I had actually won a Grammy! My mind went back to that time it was sent to my Manchester address. I verified with the Recording Academy and they told me that it was true, I had won.

Tiziano Ferro (ph. Walid Azami)

A well-deserved award but you weren’t aware of it, that’s crazy.

Isn’t it? I won a Grammy and realized it six years later! After paying a fine, they sent me the award here in Los Angeles in 2020, but in pieces.

What do you mean?

(Laughing, ed.) I had to assemble it on my own…

And then you officially entered the Recording Academy, right?

Yes, after working on Amo Soltanto Te for Andrea Bocelli and Ed Sheeran (which was nominated for the Grammys of 2020) and sending an application request with an actual cover letter written by Chris Botti and Ryan Tedder.

Who are you rooting for this year?

I was surprised not to see Taylor Swift nominated for Album of the Year, but there are Adele, Lizzo, even ABBA! But my vote will go to Kendrick Lamar. Anyway, my favourite album of the year is Rosalía’s Motomami. It has a nomination in another category (Best Latin Rock or Alternative Album, ed.), I hope she wins. I knew her when Malamente was released. We were almost thinking of doing a version in Italian but then she became a global star and we abandoned the idea.

But guys, what about Måneskin as Best New Artist? They are competing with Anitta, but I hope they make it. I’ve been loving them since their participation in The X Factor.