Michela Musolino, American-born-and-raised, known for her fiery and passionate interpretations of both traditional and contemporary Sicilian Folk and Roots Music, enchants with a voice that seems to float between the ages.
Michela Musolino grew up in a household where Sicilian dialect was spoken so the children wouldn't be able to understand the adults' conversations. The sounds of that language were like music to Michela and she fell in love with them. Listening made her curious, hungry to understand, and determined to join in the conversations. On trips back to Sicily, she'd become enamored of the traditional folk songs and began to collect them, scouring tape bins with her dad trying to find recordings she didn't already have. Years later, she'd join the NYC -based theatre company, I Giullari di Piazza, Southern-Italian folk music and dance for three years with them .
Once Michela started her journey as a performer, she was surprised and delighted when her father told her that her grandmother played the frame drum and her great-grandmother was known for her drumming and dancing!
Michela Musolino studied commedia dell'arte with two great Romans, actress Lydia Biondi and director/actor Enzo Aronica. Working with producer, Paola Bellu, Musolino acted and sang in commedia performances and was directed by Aronica in a bilingual version of Goldoni's The Coffee Shop. Bellu proposed a one-woman-show for Musolino and asked her to pick the twelve songs she loved to sing the most...they were all Sicilian songs. Working with Bellu, Michela performed in such NYC venues as the Rainbow Room at Rockefeller Center and St Mark's Church in the Bowery.
and then...this all happened -
Since her performing base is NYC, Musolino's debut CD, Songs of Trinacria, would be recorded both in NYC and in Rome, Italy, at Alfa Music Studios. Michela presented a selection of traditional Sicilian work songs, lullabys and love songs accompanied by special guests: NYC-based guitarist and arranger, Wilson Montuori, and the great Sicilian drummer and folk singer, Alfio Antico. That CD would be heard on radio stations in the US and abroad, on programs like the BBC's Paul Sherrat's Global Jukebox; NPR's All Songs Considered, Gil Medovoy's Crossing Continents on KDVS and Radio Voce Spazio with Massimo Ferro in Italy.
Continued explorations of old traditions and new sounds brought Musolino to a collaboration with avant guard musicians Kato Hideki and Marco Cappelli in and around NYC and the Metropolitan area. At the same time, trips back to Sicily and appearances at L'Evento in Memoria di Pino Veneziano in Selinunte connected Musolino to Sicilian folk artists s Umberto Leone, Rocco Pollina, La Banda di Paceco, Palermo Art Ensemble, Pippo Pollina, and Moffo Schimmenti. In 2009, when L'Associazione Pino Veneziano produced the compilation CD, Di Questa Terra Facciamone un Giardino , in honor of the Sicilian folk singer-songwriter Pino Veneziano, Musolino was invited to be one of the contributing artists.
Friendships and musical collaborations made in Sicily started to criss-cross the Atlantic. Musolino joined Palermitano singer-songwriter Pippo Pollina on stage in Salt Lake City Utah for his United States' debut concert. Musolino and Vincenzo Castellana co-authored Sempri amMari, a theatrical presentation of Sicilian folk songs dedicated to the sea. Sempri amMari toured the North Atlantic in 2012-2013 in such venues as the Common Fence Music, RI; Mystic Sea Port and the Mystic Sea Music Festival, CT; the CrossRoads, PA; Woods Hole Folk Music Society, MA; and the Music Room, NY and as far west as Chicago at the Old Town School of Music.
Musolino was an Artist-in-Residence at the Middlebury Italian Language School in Middlebury Vermont in 2008, 2012 and 2013. For her 2013 residency, Musolino penned a performance piece in which she narrated and sang Sicilian and Southern Italian folk music to tell the history of the briganti of Southern Italy. The work , Si Diedero alla Macchia,( They Went Into Hiding) with musical arrangements by John LaBarbera, has since been presented in both Italian and English.
2013 was also the year she met multi instrumentalist and bricoleur, Michael Delia, and guitarist, organetto master, & composer Fabio Turchetti. In 2014, the trio began performing and touring as Terra Sangue Mare (Earth, Blood & Sea) presenting traditional and contemporary Sicilian Folk and Roots music imbued with world fusion sounds. While Delia and Turchetti mix world traditions with Sicilian songs, Musolino weaves her voice through their musical sculptures. In October of 2015, Terra Sangue Mare debuted their original folk operetta, Iu Nascìi pi Beniti Appressu a ‘Ttia/ I Was Born to Follow You
After she met wild man guitarist, organetto player and folklorist, Phil Passantino at a party at her house - it was a great night: there were three zampognari (Italian bagpipers) in her garden - Michela began a fun collaboration: singing arrangements that are wild and haunting from a repertoire of Sicilian and Calabrese songs mixed with the traditional songs from the Meridione (Southern Italy). With Passantino she has performed live on Time Warner Cable Television and in April of 2015 on Broadway for The Acting Company's One-Night-Only benefit performance of Tennessee William's , "The Rose Tattoo." The show starred the greats Patti Lupone & Bobby Cannavale, and Tony-Award-winning director Doug Hughes invited Michela to bring Sicilian folk music to the production, just as Williams originally included it in his homage to love and Sicilians.
In April, 2016, Terra Sangue Mare, the trio of Musolino, Michael Delia and Fabio Turchetti, released a NEW CD. It was recorded in Prague during Terra Sangue Mare's Fall 2015 European Tour.
That night on Broadway with the Rosa Tattoo gave birth to another band, Rosa Tatuata. Michela joined by Phil Passantino, Charlie Rutan and Jeffrey Panettiere perform the folk and roots music of Sicily with some Southern Italian songs sprinkled throughout the repertoire. Rosa Tatuata's shows are just the right mix of ballads and raucous tunes to make everyone dance for joy and fall in love. In 2019, Michela and Rosa Tatuata performed at the Montana Folk Festival under the aegis of the National Council on the Traditional Arts and simultaneously released their debut CD, Sotto le Stelle ( Under the Stars) a selection of Sicilian & Southern Italian folk songs from their repertoire of their outdoor, summer concerts.
In 2017, Michela launched the duo, Metalli Sonanti, with Fabio Turchetti. The duo, inspired by the ancestral sounds of Grecian, Roman, Arabian and Byzantine Sicily, tours throughout Italy and the US , and collaborates with many great musicians along the way. Metalli Sonanti has performed with Alberto Venturini, Luca Congedo, Michele Piccione, Roberto Catalano and Chris Garcia, and Angelo Morabito. Metalli Sonanti has performed in places such as the 12th Century Norman Castello in Salemi, Sicily, the Biblioteca Statale , Cremona, Italy, Ashkenaz, Berkeley, CA, the Jalopy Theatre, Brooklyn, and Bar Thalia at Symphony Space. On the hottest day of the summer of 2019, Michela and Fabio recorded North Beach Stories in Cremona, Italy, with noted jazz musicians Fabrizio Trulli and Gianni Satta. North Beach Stories is a musical tribute to Lawrence Ferlinghetti, inspired by Ferlinghetti's Coney Island of the Mind and a visti to City Lights during on of Metalli Sonanti's concert tours through the Bay Area.
By the end of February 2020 f every concert on the schedule was cancelled , so Michela did what artists had to do: performed on line. One of her concerts for the Queens Public Library registered 14,000 online view! You can watch that concert here at this link: Michela Musolino & Rosa Tatuata on line concert for the Queens Public Library
Lending her voice to film, Michela can be heard on the soundtracks to Anthony Fragola's Un Bellissimo Ricordo, a documentary on the life of anti-mafia activist Felicia Bartolotta Impastato and Mark Spano's documentary about Sicily, Re-Imagining Sicily.
in 2021, Michela again collaborated with Sicilian DJ, Raf 'n Soul to re-interpret the Italian pop hit from 1979, 'No Tu No'... and as soon as it was released (you can watch it here), they went back into the studio to re-work an old Sicilian folk song, 'Palumedda.'
In 2021 Michela had her annual concert residency in North Carolina, and another invitation from the NCTA which brought Michela & Rosa Tatuata to the Richmond Folk Festival. Following the music led to a move to Bluff City...setting the groundwork for her 2022 projects with a Memphis sound, she released the single, Tavula ri Morti in November 2021.
In August of 2022, DJ Raf n Soul released the track, "Folk Palumedda," with Michela on vocals. While continuing her collaborations in 2022 with Metalli Sonanti & Rosa Tatuata, Michela also recorded a new album in Memphis, a collision of Sicilian folk traditions and Memphis music traditions. That album, La Notti Triunfanti fulfilled a long-time wish of Michela's: to make an album of Christmas music! There's a boat-load of Memphis talent on that album - produced by Mario Monterosso and engineered by Adam Hill, you can hear Jeremy Barzizza on upright bass and traverse flute, T Jarrod Bonta on piano and Wurlitzer, Alice Hasen on fiddle, Tom Lonardo on drums, Mario Monterosso on classical and electric guitar, and Michela on vocals and frame drums. Read what everyone is saying about la Notti Triunfanti and purchase a copy here.
So now that you know about Michela and her passion for Sicilian folk music, explore this site to your heart's content, listen to her voice, watch some of her videos, add your name to the mailing list and join her on this musical journey.
Peter Covino, Pen America prize-winning poet and University of Rhode Island Assosciate Professor of English said about Musolino, "Can you imagine the wild soulfulness of Tina Turner and the earthy yet ethereal voice of Neapolitan songstress Teresa De Sio combined? Well imagine that; then think even more vibrancy, more urbanity, in songs that somehow also feel impossibly intimate.... No wonder Michela Musolino has such a devoted underground following; full divahood seems scarily within reach."