Gianna Nannini

Italy's foremost female rock singer, Gianna Nannini, was born in Siena on June 14, 1956, to a wealthy family that included a renowned industrialist and Siena Football Club president father, and a Formula One pilot brother. Often described as the creative rebel in the family, Nannini attended the Lucca Conservatory throughout her entire adolescence, where she was trained as a pianist. At age 19, she decided to become a professional musician, and left her home for Milan, where she began to perform in local bars and small venues. She also continued her musical training, studying composition with Bruno Bettinelli and going to London for vocal lessons. Nannini soon caught the eye of several recording companies, and eventually signed to Numero Uno, the label owned by Italian pop heavyweights Mogol and Lucio Battisti -- the latter one of Nannini's musical idols. She was first hired as a female vocalist for one of the label's acts, Flora Fauna e Cemento, with whom she co-wrote and recorded the B-side "Stereotipati Noi" for their 1974 single "Congresso di Filosofia." The following year, she released her self-titled debut album for Ricordi, followed by Una Radura in 1977. Nannini's first two albums were mostly comprised of piano-based ballads, and were clearly influenced by other Italian songwriters of the period, such as Lucio Dalla and Lucio Battisti, as Nannini strove to find her own musical identity. While both records would be ignored by all future Gianna Nannini official compilations and live albums, they served to introduce Nannini as a powerful female songwriter who wrote all the music and lyrics of her songs (an oddity in Italy at the time), revealing a fierce sense of independence as well as distinct feminist views on her take of issues such as abortion and female desire.