February 28, 2015 by Italians in Chicago
Italy, Summer ’13 and the country’s airwaves are dominated by the sound of an indie-pop anthem from an unsuspecting rising star. The song “Alfonso” by Levante, a 26 year old singer-songwriter still working as a café barista, has unintentionally tapped into the mood not only of her own generation, but of a nation in crisis and understandably unenthusiastic about the typical Latin-Dance beach fare on offer. The video, which features the artist as a frustrated protagonist in a high-fashion party shouting out the song’s hook “Che vita di merda” (What a shitty life), becomes a YouTube sensation in Italy approaching 2 million views — numbers typically unrealized by all but homegrown superstars — and becomes a powerful social media meme. Levante’s debut album “Manuale Distruzione” (Destruction Manual) enters in the Top 10 of the Italian charts in March 2014 and within one year the indie sensation is supporting headlining heroes Negramaro on their summer soccer stadium tour.
Born Claudia Lagona, Levante’s life is a trajectory between Italy’s two most fertile music scenes: Catania and Turin. Turning to songwriting as a teenager to ease the pain of her father’s death and her family’s relocation from Sicily to the industrial North, Levante found solace in a range of female muses from fellow Sicilian singer-songwriter Carmen Consoli to all-time Italian diva Mina, alongside revered American artists Tori Amos and Janis Joplin. After a stint in Leeds to develop her English writing style, Levante returned to Turin shifting back to the Italian language with a fully mature sound featuring direct lyrics of everyday life — love, pain, friendship, joy — and signing to leading independent INRI label which is based in the city.
Like a hot wind blowing in from the east, Levante will make her US debut at SXSW, the world’s leading music industry event, taking place March 17 – 21, 2015 in Austin, TX. Showcase dates follow on Monday March 23 in Los Angeles at Genghis Cohen, the storied Hollywood hotspot which launched the careers of singer-songwriters such as Sara Bareilles, and on Wednesday March 25 at The Standard, East Village in New York. Levante’s StandardSounds appearance is part of the Annie O Music Series which has previously featured acts from the New York and international music scenes such as Moby, Joan as Police Woman and Jovanotti.