Shorter haircut gave Yanni a welcome rest
Published: Tue, May 26, 2009 @ 12:00 a.m.
By John Benson
Oh, the hair (or lack thereof)!
Not since Jon Bon Jovi and Chris Cornell cut their trademark locks in the early ’90s has so much been made about a recording artist’s change of mane. Since his arrival as a new-age musician decades ago, Yanni’s main attraction has been, well, his mane attraction, which he recently cut from eccentric maestro level to more dapper shoulder length. So what happened?
“Three years ago, I was at my house in Greece in the summer and I like to scuba dive, but my hair was getting on my nerves because scuba diving and long hair don’t go together very well,” Yanni said laughing as he called from Toronto. “And so I was sitting there and thought, ‘I’m not going to be on television for another six months to a year, why don’t I trim it?’
“Eventually I said, ‘Just cut it all off and forget it. Just enjoy the ocean, and when you come back, you grow it.’ And I ended up liking it, so there you go. And it also had a byproduct, which I enjoyed. It gave me back my anonymity. Very few people could recognize me. It was beautiful. It gave me a rest.”
And if the haircut isn’t enough of an earth-shattering event for Yanni fans, they’ll be surprised to learn the 54-year-old instrumental musician did the unheard-of for his newly released studio effort “Voices,” which was produced with Ric Wake (Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion). He enlisted relatively unknown singers Chloe, Leslie Mills, Nathan Pacheco and Ender Thomas to add vocals to many of his most recognized songs.
“It was a very organic decision,” Yanni said. “And Ric being who he is — he has access to world-class vocal talent. So he started presenting me with different vocalists, and the first one he presented me was Nathan Pacheco, who is a tenor. And Nathan sang one song for me, and I was like blown away. In the meantime he brought Chloe, who at the time was 19 years old with a huge voice. And she could do opera, Janis Joplin and everything in between.”
He added, “There’s Leslie Mills, who is just the Mother Earth voice, just very seductive, smoky and fragile. Just stunning, and the most difficult to find was Ender Thomas because I was looking for a Latino singer with a fire and a versatility and range. I wanted him to have a raspy voice like rock ’n’ roll, but be versatile enough to be able to understand Mediterranean, Spanish, Middle Eastern kind of skills. It took us a year and a half to find Ender Thomas, and his range is phenomenal.”
Now comes the fun part for Yanni, who brings his latest tour back to Cleveland for a June 3 show at Wolstein Center at CSU. The Greek native, who has risen to the top of his genre, said his current outing is the biggest show he’s ever created, with plenty of surprises in store for his audience.
As for continuing with his other surprise — the addition of vocals into his music — Yanni makes no promises.
“I’m open to it, but it’s not necessary that I continue,” Yanni said. “But right now I’m enamored with it. I love the versatility that I have. I’m like a painter, and now I have more colors to paint with.”