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Issue 59 / Young Italian-Canadian Singer Embraces Diversity Of Home In Each Song

Young Italian-Canadian Singer Embraces Diversity Of Home In Each Song

Aug 08, 2016


    Singer DIA developed a gift early on — not only was she able to fully immerse herself in the various cultures that make up Canada, but she also learned how to sing in the different languages of her hometown, Toronto. 

    Her sound is like no other, and it's gaining praise right across North America. The 26-year-old artist sings in more than two-dozen languages, including Punjabi and Hindi. Although she acknowledges she has a long way to go. “I’m constantly working on my pronunciation and song diversity," she says. "I’m not fluent but would love to be some day. I’m aware that India has 22 official languages.”

    The tall, brown-eyed beauty was born to Italian-Canadian parents, but developed a love for South Asian culture early on. “Indian and Italian cultures are both vibrant and bright. Our cultures are so similar,” she explains.

    DIA remembers being completely mesmerized by the Bollywood films that would air every Sunday morning on the multicultural channel —  even though she couldn’t fully comprehend what was going on. Her parents would often chuckle when they saw their little Italian daughter trying to replicate the intricate Indian dance moves. But that only strengthened her love of Bollywood — from the textiles and make-up to the elegance of the stars — which remains a big influence in her musical sound and style today.

              

    "I have always loved music and learning about language and culture," DIA says.
    Photo Credit: Ana Rancourt

    But South Asian culture isn’t the only one that inspires DIA, she credits being a Torontonian for her appreciation of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Balkan (Roma) and Latin cultures. Elements of each culture can be heard in her music and, she adds, seen in her wardrobe. Although she does admit that learning to sing in all these languages has been challenging. “Thankfully,” she explains, “I live in the GTA where I can travel a few minutes North, East, South or West to meet with a native speaker who can answer some of my questions.”

               

    "She doesn’t stumble when she sings it’s just part of who she is and those types of talents don’t come around everyday,” says Award-winning producer/songwriter Arnold Lanni. 
    Photo Credit: Pure Percent

     

    DIA's music takes people on an international musical journey. Something she is able to do by incorporating the specific tones of the dialect she chooses to sing in. The president of CHIN RADIO/TV International, Lenny Lombardi, called her a “cultural innovator who brings multiculturalism to the forefront for music lovers.” Others have described DIA's music as “different,” and for her that is the best compliment because it confirms there is no similar talent in the industry.

    DIA was born into a musical family. Her grandfather played the accordion and keyboard before immigrating to Canada from Italy.  And she remembers tagging along to her parents' various performances as a child – her mother would sing and her father played the drums. Even her brother decided to pursue music full-time. “I didn’t really think of making music a career because I thought everyone’s family did it. It was just a way of life in our house," she says.

           

    "Each culture I experience leaves a thumbprint on my voice," DIA says.
    Photo Credit: Pure Percent

    These days, DIA often shares the stage with her brother. He accompanies many of her vocal arrangements with his guitar, and also sings background vocals. “We practically read each other’s minds on stage and it makes for such a comfortable and unique performance.” Her brother also helps write, record and edit some of her material.

    Being brought up under the vocal wing of her mother – DIA never had to take a single singing lesson. She began performing at just 11-years-old. Since then she's performed at hundreds of shows across North America, and was offered a recording grant from the Ontario Arts Council. Her love for music even prompted her to pursue a musical education from York University, where she completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Music and a Master of Arts in Ethnomusicology (World music).

               

    DIA performing at the Parapan Am closing ceremonies.
     Photo Credit: Pure Percent

    One of DIA's most notable performances was singing on stage at Nathan Phillips Square for the 2015 Toronto Parapan Am closing ceremonies in front of hundreds in the audience and millions on TV. Calling it an incredible experience, she does admit her nerves almost got the better of her. But she says once she started singing there was no better feeling. “I let go and allow[ed] my voice and body to take over.” This year, her performing schedule has only picked up. So far in 2016, she's sung at Luminato, the CHIN International Picnic and the Toronto Jazz Festival, just to name a few.

    With her debut EP being released later this summer, DIA’s future looks bright. Most recently she has been collaborating with Canadian record producer Arnold Lanni, who has worked with Simple Plan and Our Lady Peace, and they're already starting to gather ideas for her next album.  As for right now, DIA says she'll continue to work on diversifying her musical and cultural portfolio because “there’s nothing better than uniting people through music.”

                

    DIA's debut EP is currently in its final stages and should be ready for a late Summer/Fall 2016 release.
    Photo Credit: Elle Lily Photography (Lianna Lanni)

     

    Main Image Photo Credit: Elle Lily Photography (Lianna Lanni)

      Neetu Seupersadsingh

      Neetu Seupersadsingh

        Author

        Neetu Seupersadsingh has loved writing for as long as she can remember. That's why Carleton University’s journalism program  was her clear choice for post-secondary studies. In Ottawa, she was able to further develop her skill in arts, entertainment and lifestyle reporting. So...

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