The queen of Napoli from the earth to the moon

Life music and thoughts of singer songwriter Teresa De Sio

That of Teresa De Sio is a “Libero Cercare” (free searching) that she has experienced in different forms of art. From dance to theater, from music to literature… Up to fashion! A consumer of music, movies, poetry, Latin American literature, and more, she let herself be contaminated by stories, languages, feelings, colors and sounds. Passionate and ironic, sensitive and strongly determined. She wears the scars of her heart like medals. It is true that she is the queen of Napoli with the soul of a “brigantessa”. She sang the history and stories of Southern Italy and the sentiments and feelings of the South of the world. In music she defines herself as an author folk singer. In her opinion, just like rock, folk uses a different language to say things that commercial music, pop music or the official circuits would not say otherwise.

T.D.S.: “Folk music is the rock of the people. Through folk you learn to respect the men and women of our world, to recognize their past and thanks to that, to look to the future …

singer songwriter author stylist Teresa De Sio

It was probably her grandfather who, when she was a child, passed on her the love for music. He played piano, guitar, mandolin and accordion. Holding her on his lap, he showed her and explained the functioning of the piano’s black and white keys. After having had a long experience studying at the San Carlo dance school in Salerno, Teresa made her debut in the theater, as an actress, and was part of several troupes in her city. She performed from Greek classics to Bertold Brecht and Pierpaolo Pasolini scripts. Thanks to an engagement in a theater company in Rome, very young, she moved to the capital where she still lives. She loved rock and listened to Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell and she was interested in social and folk. Shortly thereafter her moving to Rome, she met Eugenio Bennato who was just leaving the N.C.C.P. (Nuova Compagnia di Canto Popolare) (New Company of Folk Singing). It happened by chance, in a restaurant, that he heard her singing, and he asked her to become the voice of Musicanova, the new band he was founding.

It was a beautiful experience that introduced Teresa to the world of music and which ended in 1978, with the release of a highly folk-vibrating album, entitled Villanelle Popolaresche del ‘500 (Popular “Villanelle” of the ‘500). She was ready to release her first solo album Sulla Terra sulla Luna (On the Earth on the Moon) which made her being noticed, as a songwriter, nationwide. Following her instinct in a reckless search, she has always assumed her responsibilities by freely choosing the paths to take. She decided about her own records and self-produced them. During her career she sold more than 2 million copies, with 17 studio albums, 3 with Musicanova, 5 collections, and a live.

We can’t list all her musical works but we would like to say that she is a polyhedric artist always on the move. She is a careful and accurate experimenter, a tireless researcher who has contributed to the evolution of music by bringing innovations, both in rhythm as well as in content, managing to contaminate the roots of popular music with technology and, naturally, without leaving out Neapolitan melody.

She sang and sings in Neapolitan and in Italian. She has collaborated with Italian artists such as Pino Daniele, Fabrizio De André, Vinicio Capossela, Giovanni Lindo Ferretti, Daniele Sepe, Apres La Classe, Roy Paci, and international artists such as Brian Eno, Steward Copeland, Paul Buckmaster, Michael Brook, aetano Veloso, just to name a few. Her music has been listened to around the world since she has participated in important festivals from Ravello to Bangkok, from New York to Istanbul. A thread binds her to overseas lands. It is her descent from the native Americans. In fact, her great-great-grandmother was a Dacota Indian. Her ancestors lived in Jersey City and her great-grandfather was reported to have been Frank Sinatra’s physician. In the album Ombre Rosse (Red Shadows), released in 1991, Teresa was inspired by the memory of her ancestors and, on this record, played Italian, Maghreb, Egyptian and African American musicians, among which jazz musicians Omar Akim and Scott Hambush of Spyro Gyra . That of her was a profound research in the field of popular tradition which, towards the end of the 90s, led her, with La Notte del Dio che Balla (The Night of the Dancing God), to approach the “taranta” and, soon after, together with Giovanni Lindo Ferretti, to write a show called Craj, that, in Salentino dialect means Tomorrow. A happening project that ranges from music to circus theater and is dedicated to the major exponents of Apulian popular music such as Matteo Salvatore, Uccio Aloisi, the Cantori di Carpino, paladins of the oral tradition, modern “vati”, (storyteller), who experience music as an extension of their existence. It is a tribute to the popular Apulian tradition. From this show, in 2005, a docu film was also born. Craj- Domani (Craj – Tomorrow) directed by Davide Marengo took part in the 62nd edition of the Venice International Film Festival, obtaining the CSC “Lino Miccichè” Award as best first work.

Teresa De Sio
Photo©Simone Cecchetti

Her being always on the move. Although it turns around just like the moon she does not sleep, she is awake and she questions. She questions on social issues, on herself, then she works on it and elaborates. Through telling the story of darkness she reaches the light, as she did with her most recent work, published in 2019, Puro Desiderio (Pure Desire). However her art is not expressed exclusively through music. During her career Teresa has written 2 noir novels: Metti il Diavolo a Ballare (Put the Devil to Dance), which is about the myth of the taranta bite, published by Einaudi in 2009, and L’ Attentissima (The Very Careful) , the story of a woman in a man’s body, a noir about transformation, also released by the same publisher in 2015, and which, moreover, the same year, closed the 10th edition of the John Fante Festival. She is currently working on her third novel. Some time ago she declared that she wanted to devote more time to her business as a stylist. Long silk dresses, suits, trousers and jackets are her new pieces of art. Teresa De Sio has already finished her first collection that is about to be distributed. When she was a child she wore her dance tutu and she used to look herself in the mirror. However she always looked over the mirror! That of hers has always been a unique style, full of vibrant and strong colors, rich of energy that express her way of being: determinated, forceful and always on the move. As you can perceive from her own words in this interview.

NAP. – You were born in Napoli, you spent your childhood in Cava de Tirreni and since many years now you have lived in Rome. What’s your relationship with Napoli? –

T.D.S. – My relationship with Napoli was fundamental for my artistic growth. Napoli is a city that has been able to absorb all the cultures of the peoples who have dominated it, from the Turks to the French and the Spaniards. From all it has taken the best. Regarding music, it has created its own unique musicality in the world. –

NAP. -What is the way in which the Neapolitan culture has influenced your artistic talent? –

T.D.S. – Certainly in the use of melody, rhythm and passionality of song. –

NAP. – You began with dance. Then, there was Theater. Finally you made your debut with Musicanova taking the way of music. What led you to this choice? –

T.D.S. – This choice is due precisely to the discovery of Neapolitan folk music and of the South in general. I understood that it was possible to make indigenous and, at the same time, contaminated music without mimicking Anglo-Saxon models. –

NAP. – Being a woman, an innovative artist and a “brigantessa, from the beginning of your career to

today, has it been easier than to be respected as an author and composer? –

T.D.S. – Pleasing people as a singer was easier. The rest came with time, dedication, confidence gradually gained and … Some good songs! –

NAP. – Someone claims that thanks to the internet everyone knows everything. What do you think? –

T.D.S. – Everyone knows some useful things and many useless things. –

NAP. – About today technology, do you think that online concerts can replace live concerts? –

T.D.S. – Never. Live shows are direct contact, they are heat, sweat, tears, applause, hugs and many beautiful mistakes. –

NAP. – Western culture is obsessed with achieving a goal. What goal you propose to achieve both as a thinker as well as a narrator? –

T.D.S. – Spying in the eyes of God. –

Teresa De Sio
Photo©Simone Cecchetti

NAP. – Italy repudiates war. Unfortunately today it is “terra e duello” (land & duel) and “signora del coltello“(lady of the knife). How do you live this moment? Is Teresa still tired of the war? –

T.D.S. – Certainly this is a dangerous moment for the balance of the world. However, I do not believe that there have been or there are epochs that offer definitive protection on all this. –

NAP. – You have been an innovator who never abandoned research. You also have collaborated with great Italian and foreign artists. Besides the musical contamination, what else do you keep as a human being? –

T.D.S. – I am a thief of humanity. From Fabrizio De Andrè to Brian Eno I have done nothing but draw on their free souls rather than on music. And their friendship. –

NAP. – How do you see your future in the new world? –

T.D.S. – Very articulate. I am writing my third novel from which I hope a TV series will be based. Above all, I am creating my first fashion line as a stylist. –