You don’t become Mina by chance: the 80th anniversary of a legend
Mina she is not just a singer, but a precious piece of Italian song. An early pop artist, modern, multifaceted, free. It is proper of the freedom who made her figure: Mina broke all limits and was everything an artist can be. Singer, presenter, actress, but above all one intelligent, intuitive, restless woman, always ready to express her talent in different and unusual ways. Mina is an icon, an adjective that qualifies beauty, an important and indispensable fixed point for the music and art of our country.
Mina, 80 years of a timeless artist
Eighty years, of which over sixty career, one hundred and fifty million records sold and a dazzling, unrepeatable story. She’s born Anna Maria Mazzini, in 1940, and became Mina (like her father Mino, diminutive of Giacomino), barely eighteen years old after. She was little more than a teenager when her voice became the voice of Italy: in 1958, her record company at the time, Davide Matalon, made her record the first single. In the span of a few years, from ’58 to ’62, in an Italy that was slowly climbing the slope, he published a number of them fiftyfour.
His first time at the top of the chart sales occurred in January 1960, with the song Moon tan, a light and sticky piece, which opened the doors to the former musical hits of Italy. A dazzling success, yes, but not limiting: Mina has never been satisfied with being just one thing and – a few months later – has recorded The sky in a room by Gino Paoli, a completely different piece, which turned out to be the Best-selling single of the year.
Mina, throughout her long career, still in full swing today (the last album, in collaboration with Ivano Fossati, was published last November), has never preferred one genre to another: dal rock’n’roll toOpera, from pop at the songwriter, the Cremona tiger has changed its skin many times and has put its voice at the service of many authors, from the aforementioned Paoli to Fabrizio De André (in 1967 he recorded Marinella’s song, starting the career of the Genoese singer-songwriter, with whom he duet on the same song many years later, in 1997), from the duo Mogol-Battisti to Moats. Many names have collaborated with Mina, many languages in which she sang (English, Spanish, German, Japanese and French), the repertoire it has covered is vast, from Naples until Frank Sinatra. This is to say that Mina is not just a voice, certainly beautiful and unattainable, but an artist with an incisive, powerful, engaging personality, with a unique style and a free career.
Yes, a career nonconformist: Mina has followed more usual paths, such as participation in the Sanremo Festival, in 1960 and 1961 (with the promise, after the second time, to no longer take part in a singing competition, given the criticism for his performance of The thousand blue bubbles due to the famous gesture of the fingers sliding over the mouth during the chorus, which some considered a mockery to the public), and roads never taken before, especially for a singer, such as that of the conduction. In fact, in October 1961, the first episode of Studio One, in which Mina led, sang, duetted, expressed all her charisma, sympathy, lightness and ainnate ability to stand in front of the cameras. A showwoman, we would say, chameleonic and impregnable, but above all credible in any circumstance.
The same Rai who made her a diva, however, some time later put her at the door: in 1963, Mina became a mother for the first time; her baby, Massimiliano, was born of the singer’s relationship with Corrado Pani, then married. Mina has been defined public sinner, Rai has vetoed its presence on video and has them forbidden to take part in any broadcast. Only a year later, thanks to the intelligence of another excellence of Italian TV, Mike Bongiorno, who invited her to take part in his program The fair of dreams, Mina is back on TV and sang Empty city. But it wasn’t the only one censorship: in 1975, the song The important thing is to finish was censored, once again by Rai, because considered too risque.
Despite the criticisms, the condemnations, the vain attempts to silence her, Mina never stopped, she continued to show herself strong and willful, a independent woman, magnetic, an example of modernity and avant-garde: he has released hugely successful songs, from And if tomorrow to the non-song Good, up to the extraordinary If phoning, signed by Ennio Morricone (for music) and from Maurizio Costanzo (for the textual part): the piece is the son of a precise time, we are in 1966 and love has become carnal and modern, almost alien, capable of ending up through a device now in daily use, the phone. Even pop music now has a weight, even the most inflated theme ever, love, is expressed through new, concrete, irreverent words. The woman loves, leaves, suffers, rebels, gets lost and finds herself.
But that’s not all, because Mina is also a ‘style icon, irreverent and sensual: it was the first to wear the miniskirt on television, to opt for an always impeccable and different look, for a hair that is never the same. Mina is the high road of Italian pop (and not only), because it has never followed a trend, but has created new ones every time; he never respected the rules, but made – of rebellion and freedom – his strength.
Today’s birthday is not simply the birthday of a great singer, of an unsurpassed voice or a symbol of a bygone era: Mina exists and will always exist, because he invented from scratch a form of expression that goes far beyond the use of the voice, body or songs. Mina is her voice, her body, her songs, it’s all the things she did, does, sings and expresses. It’s a essential and necessary truth, through which you have to go (and you will always have to go) to tell the history of the Italian song.
Let’s go over a few key moments of the artistic history of Mina.
Duet Mina – Battisti (23 April 1972, Theater 10)
My Love (1971)
Empty City (1963)
The important thing is to finish (1975)
If calling (1966)
Big Big Big (1972)
Mina with Giorgio Gaber (3 October 1970, And we here)
Still Still Still (1978)
Liar and reckless (1970)
Marinella’s Song (1967)
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