Yanni adds 'Voices' to his show
Vocalists, lyrics give depth to his music, the New Age superstar says.
BY ED CONDRAN
Chris Rock once cracked that if 10 million people bought the Spice Girls' debut album, 1996's "Spice," why didn't he know anyone who had purchased a copy?
The same line could be applied to Yanni. The New Age superstar, who will perform Wednesday at Hartman Arena, has sold more than 20 million albums worldwide, but it's unusual to hear anyone discussing the finer points of a Yanni disc.
The native Greek, who has been residing in America for 35 of his 54 years, has accomplished a great deal during his lucrative career. A University of Minnesota alum who earned a psychology degree in 1976, Yanni was the first recording artist to play India's Taj Mahal and China's Forbidden City. He became a star after the release of "Live at the Acropolis" in 1994.
Yanni is touring to promote his "Voices" album, the first to feature vocalists. In an interview, he talked about the project, his nadir and his tolerance for pain.
Why add vocals to your music after all these years?
I wanted to add new layers to the music. It gives it more depth. Lyrics are excellent. The singers that joined me for the album (Chloe, Leslie Mills, Ender Thomas and Nathan Pacheco) are wonderful singers.
Can Yanni sing?
Absolutely not! I have perfect pitch. I can hear every note an orchestra plays, but I can't sing a single tune. That's fine. I'll play piano and keyboards and write.
What are the chances that a poor kid from the seaside town of Kalamata, who doesn't sing, dance, study, write or read music, becomes one of the world's most popular musicians?
It's impossible. But I love impossibility. I love when I talk to kids nowadays and tell them if I'm able to do what I did, you can do anything. About the only thing I give credit to me is my ability to take pain and my ability to focus.
How did you develop such a tolerance for pain?
Because of my swimming as a kid. (He was the Greek 50-meter swimming champ at age 14.) I went through intense training five hours a day. It wasn't just physical pain. I learned how to persist. It's about not being afraid of being uncomfortable.
You took an extensive break after your '98 tour.
It was for my mental health. It was for my own good. I really burned out on the '98 tour. The stress got to such a high level.
You took a five-year hiatus. What did you do during that period?
The first thing I did was run away (laughs). I went back to Greece, to the place where I was born. I walked away from my career. I did no interviews, nothing. I didn't play piano for one year. I walked the mountains with my dad. I dealt with the pain. I just sat there and said, I'm not going to leave unless I feel happy again.
Was there a strong possibility that your career was over?
Yes. It was a very strong possibility. I had very serious talks with my father in the mountains. He said, "If you don't write another song as long as you live, you'll be fine." There is a lot of Greek in me. Greeks like to enjoy life.
If you go
Where: Hartman Arena, 8151 N. Hartman Arena Drive, Park City
When: 7:30 p.m. Wed.
How much: Tickets: Limited number of $10 tickets, otherwise $39.50-$152, available at the Hartman Arena Box Office and Stage 1 outlets, or by calling 888-755-2583.