Our Recent Interview With Michéal Castaldo
T0day on our Hot Seat we have Micheal Castaldo for interview. Let have a chat with him.
Twist Online: First of all tell us about the start of your music career?
Michéal Castaldo: michéal CASTALDO, an Italian-born Canadian, now New York City resident, believes that “Life is not a cup to be drained, but a measure to be filled.” My cup has filled several times over, each time bringing me closer to my roots in Southern Italy. All roads lead back to Calabria for me; that’s where I was born and spent the first three years of my life. And it’s where I learned everything I love.
My parents immigrated from Calabria to Canada in the 1960s. I was exposed at an early age to both American Rock & Roll and Italian pop music as well as the various Italian languages. My father, who originally crafted wooden barrels (a “Cooper”) for wine and balsamic vinegar in Calabria in the 1950s, became a general purpose carpenter when the family moved to a lively, Italian community in Toronto, Canada.
At nine years old, I was a member of my church choir and chosen by the pastor to sing a solo. After the Mass, parishioners came up to me and praised my voice. At that moment, the music bug bit and a singing career was born. I began studying guitar, piano, trumpet, and songwriting and soon became an accomplished musician. I followed favored artists, both in America and Italy. I studied voice with Maestro Pisapia, a protégé of the great Italian operatic tenor, Enrico Caruso. A graduate of prestigious schools: the arts-oriented Oakwood Collegiate Institute in Toronto (where I returned during spring 2008 to perform at the school’s 100th anniversary reunion) and Berklee College of Music in Boston.
As a teenager growing up in Toronto, I had various jobs where I learned about the value of goods and services and how businesses are managed and operated. I sang and played guitar during the Folk Mass at St. Clare’s Church for 10 years. I worked at McDonalds for a summer. I got fired from that job, but I took away a valuable lesson that has helped me in life. I worked at a grocery store, and that also lasted for one summer because at this time my family decided to open their own grocery store and here’s where my education about business really began. Thus the lesson I learned was, treat others as you would like to be treated. I knew at that very moment that I had my mom’s entrepreneurship, and had to own and operate my own business. I was not cut out to be an employee and needed complete autonomy to be happy.
I have also been a producer/remixer (José Feliciano, Teo Macero, Martha Wash, Wendy Moten); recording artist (Lives of a Cell, michéal CASTALDO); songwriter (Keith Edwards, Stein Berge Svendsen, Aaron Schroeder, Jim Papoulis); session musician (Herbal Essence Shampoo, E-File, Burlington Coat Factory); record label founder (MJM Records); and label executive (Vital Records).
After an education at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, I moved to New York City to pursue a professional music career. I began singing in English, but switched to Italian when audiences requested my unique hometown repertoire. Though I sing mostly in Italy’s “official” Florentine language, I am equally adept at the Neapolitan, Sicilian, and Calabrian languages and have recorded songs in each.
Twist Online: Who or what inspired you as an artist growing up?
Michéal Castaldo: I studied Bel Canto, the cousin of opera, at a very young age. While at the same time soaking up the classic Italian performances of Claudio Villa, Claudio Baglione, Massimo Ranieri, Albano, Adriano Celentano, I Pooh, Mino Reitano along with Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Gino Vanelli, and Tom Jones. This meshing of musical interests would form my crossover future. I drew my motivation to become a musician from several influences; however, my start was not linear. Seeing the film, “The Great Caruso,” starring Mario Lanza, watching Elvis Presley’s Comeback Concert, watching Tom Jones’ Variety Show, and learning about the Beatles, solidified my goal of becoming a musician and songwriter. I learned that this dream was not a destination but a journey.
Twist Online: Tell us about your single “Everything Happens for a Reason”?
Michéal Castaldo: I came upon this very special song by “accident”… at least some would put it that way. “Pure coincidence” others might say. On the other hand, the remarkable reaction to my recording that I’ve been receiving from listeners makes me think that, maybe Everything DOES Happen for a Reason… because this song has meant so much to so many, already. Here’s how the “accident” occurred. When Paul Guzzone and I were on Brian Muni’s Live Song radio show (WRCR) together, I happened to hear a song he’d written with lyricist, Mike Greenly. I quickly fell in love with this song and its universal message and wanted to share it as widely as I could. I told Paul and Mike how much I believed in the song and its meaning, and how fervently I wanted to record it. They were delighted and agreed. Since then, in addition to performing the song in English, I wrote the Italian lyrics and offered it in three versions for all to enjoy– English, Bilingual, and Italian. I was so determined to spread its message that my team and I have created lyric videos with subtitles in over 30 languages, including American Sign Language. On the first day of release, our fans helped take the single to #1 on the Amazon charts. Recently, my song came to the attention of world-famous DJ and music producer Tony Moran. This twice-Grammy-nominated DJ and music producer has worked with such top dance/pop artists as Rihanna, Mariah Carey, Madonna, Neyo, and many others. He was excited about the song and created a wonderful Dance remix, which will be released on his new “MoodSwings” album this fall. It’s a song—and a message—I’m very proud of.
Twist Online: What kind of response your single received ?
Michéal Castaldo: The response has been amazing. Or fans took the song to #1 on Amazon.com on the first day of release. It’s been played on the radio by more then 60 radio stations as well. But what’s been so remarkable about this song is the steady stream of compliments I keep receiving as more new people discover it. Yes, of course, it’s gratifying to have so many people praising my performance. But honestly, even more meaningful is the steady stream of listeners who tell me that the song is giving them reassurance, inspiration, and hope at sad or difficult times in their lives. These heartfelt compliments and thanks never seem to stop. What more could an artist and songwriter ask for then the privilege of touching other people’s lives and souls? I’m so glad I discovered Everything Happens for a Reason and am sharing it around the world. It really is true: Everything does Happen for a Reason.
Twist Online: Tell us about your upcoming ‘Performance Cruise’?
Michéal Castaldo: Cruising with Castaldo is a U.S. Atlantic Seaboard/Canada performance cruise along the east coast, from New York City to Halifax, Canada, and back, on the elegant and premium Princess Cruise Lines newest ship, the Regal Princess. I will perform several times during the seven-night cruise. Travelers will have the opportunity to dine with me, accompany me on special optional excursions throughout the trip, and join in my birthday celebration as well. The ship departs from New York on Saturday, September 24, and returns on Saturday, October 1, 2016.
Twist Online: What’s your favorite Music Genre?
Michéal Castaldo: Duke Ellington one said there are two kinds of music: “Good” and “Bad”. I love a lot of different styles and genres of music from Classical to Jazz to Rock, Pop, and Dance. As long as it’s done well and has a strong melody, I will listen to it. For the past 15+ years, my focus has been Classical-Crossover (music in the style of Andrea Bocelli, Sarah Brightman, Josh Groban, Il Divo, The Tenors, and Jackie Evancho).
Twist Online: Are you working on any new projects?
Michéal Castaldo: I’m always working new projects. As an artist I try to release digi-singles every 4 to 8 weeks. My next project is with two-time Grammy nominee and famed DJ and music producer, Tony Moran, and his imprint, Mr. TanMan Music. We are pleased to announce the new single release of “Caruso.” This new single, to be released in September, will be available to recognized digi music sites and to celebrate Italian Heritage Month in October.
We are also pleased to release “Temptation Down In Rio: Anthology of Never Giving Up on a Song” on Vital Records. This new Digi EP will feature eight different renditions of the song, from 80s pop to dance to world. The version de resistance features Grammy® award-winning artist José Feliciano’s soulful singing and stellar guitar playing. The song has a blend of Nuevo Flamenco, Zydeco rhythms, R&B vocal harmonies, and exotic world sounds and melodies intricately combined with masterful lyrical imagery. The idea of mixing musical genres brings with it images of cultures in harmony.
The musical seed of what has become, Temptation Down in Rio, was first planted almost 30 years ago when, as songwriter, I won the prestigious Abe Olman Award via the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Famed songwriter Sammy Cahn presented me with the award and challenged me to go out and write a hit song. This song was co-written with Keith Edwards (son of Sherman Edwards, who wrote the Broadway musical 1776) and will be released on October 7th.
We will officially release another digi single, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” on Vital Records, on November 4. I’m honoring the song in English and Latin because it’s so relevant in the lives and background of all of us in this country today. “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” is a Christian Advent hymn. One immediately gets into the Christmas spirit when hearing this beautiful and monastic drone-inspired rendition of the song.
As a producer with Majestic Castle Music, I worked on Karen Willough’s new Christmas digi single due out in mid-October. It’s a spirited song with Christmas cheer entitled “You Know I Have Angels” (“Yo tengo ángeles”) in true Flamenco style. The song’s infectious rhythm and brass rivals José Feliciano’s “Feliz Navidad” for top spot as a multilingual Holiday song.
Willough stated, “I have so many Mexican and Spanish fans, I was excited to record a song in this style.” Additionally, she also wrote the lyrics and music to “You Know I Have Angels.” Originally from Central America, Willough is more than comfortable singing in Spanish.
Twist Online: Are you on social media? How you can be followed?
Michéal Castaldo: Yes, all musicians and artists need to be on social media. That’s how I connect and stay in touch with my super fans. I can be followed on