What could be better than a tall, handsome, brown eyed Italian man in his 30s? A tall, handsome, brown-eyed Italian man in his 30s who sings vibrantly and could be the next European sensation. Meet Nicola “Niko” Congiu, a singer with an Italian following who has opened shows for Jewel and Celine Dion and sang alongside Tony Bennett. Until now Niko has remained under the Italian wraps but is ready to entertain America.
“I started to sing in front of people when I was in primary school with my friends but the first time I had an audience was when I was 16,” Niko reminisced. “Every summer I went to the beach on my bicycle with my guitar [But] it was unusual because I was a young boy singing Diana Polanka songs and the guys of my age sang other things.”
In an interview with Blast, Niko explained that his musical passion was, is and will forever be, rock. Because of this he began performing the rock songs he grew up listening to and loving. As he grew older his beach gigs got him a mid-sized following, or as he describes with a grin, “I started making many, many, friends.”
As a child he received a keyboard, rock cassettes and a guitar as gifts for Christmas and birthdays from is parents who wanted him to enjoy music. However, they never fully realized that as Niko taught himself to play the instruments and lip-synch to the rock tunes, he was dreaming of one day being an artist. After performing in the beach over the summers his first glimpse at fame came when he was 18.
The teen entered a TV competition, Rei Por La Note (King for a Night), where he sang and won the night’s honors. His performance was seen nationwide and after that his popularity grew. Through more contests and gigs he met Paolo Limiti, an Italian T.V. personality from the national station Rai Uno. Limiti decided Niko would be great addition to his show and sooner than soon he was performing American, dance and Italian songs for millions across Italy’s television sets. In search for more, Niko moved to Milan.
There he put together a band of seven musicians and toured the country for ten years. His large number of new “friends” started filing up bars, as he became a true “Piano Man” and sang at local restaurants and hot spots across the country.
“I worked in clubs and played and sang every kind of music, from waltz to salsa to cha-cha-cha to disco from the 70s every kind. When I was 20 I started to sing in Italian because I started to work at many piano bars, but for me it’s beautiful to be here [in America] because I feel at home. I don’t now why but I always thought there was something special for me, something between me and America- I always felt this, and now it’s a dream come true for me.”
While touring and being on stages nearly every other day the star in training learned valuable lessons. Niko says that first, and most importantly, he learned to stay on stage and to know how to talk to the audience. He also learned the “right behavior” with my musicians, to know how to be punctual and work as a team rather than being a diva-man. “I think it’s important to stay true to yourself, ‘tu mismo,’ because I am living this moment like an important adventure and a beautiful experience for my life first of all. Is not important to me to become a huge star it’s important to me to sing.”
Just as he got into Italy’s heart, Niko tells that when he sings he can give other people the feeling that he’s feeling. For him, that is the most important thing. “I understand it will be strong if you have success now but then no more! I don’t want this, I just want to stay quiet and enjoy this moment every day.”
It’s still uncertain if Niko’s days will remain quiet or not. He was offered the opportunity to come to America by director-producer Steve Binder who met Niko on one of his shows while vacationing in Europe. Binder enjoyed the show so much he offered Niko the chance to meet people in the industry and obtain a development deal with Live Nation. From his most recent album Niko’s sounds are smooth and romantic. He is indeed gifted with a good voice, making his ballads alluring, but what probably attracts audiences most is his open personality.
Throughout the interview itself, the singer was nervous about his accent but eager to share memories and talk. This Italian feel is what Niko can bring to the table without having much competition. Although he is compared to Josh Groban or Andrea Bocelli and toured this summer with Chicago and the Doobie Brothers, his music is constantly developing.
“I want him to be Niko not anybody else, you can compare the vocal talent but not the performance. His communication with the audience is different,” said Binder. “Going with Chicago and the Doobie Brothers who are heavy duty Rock and Roll and seeing that they’ve embraced each other and had true love affair of musicians is amazing. Too see that four bars into a first song people are putting attention”¦ I’ve never seen that with an opening act.”
Now as he prepares to work in the U.S. it’s exciting to hear about the music he may work in. Maybe audiences can expect Italian accented soft rock tunes? “I think when I first saw my first movie I was four or five with my parents and we went to see Grease. This was my first important moment because I immediately loved the music, Rock and Roll, the style, everything; I love many different kinds of music but my first love was Rock and Roll,” asserted the singer.
Although his summer tour has come to an end there are plans for future concerts as a record is being prepared. When asked whether or not he missed his native land, the answer is “of course,” but for the obvious reasons of family, friends and fans that are there. As far as his career is concerned Niko tells that he belongs here now.
“When I said ‘I am going to America’ people in Italy were very happy for my career and for me because I didn’t have many opportunities, it’s a sad thing but the music business in Italy is very closed; so we’ll see what happens because they are waiting for another Italian concert,” Niko added jokingly. “I couldn’t believe I to go out of Italy. I could not do it because it was difficult, I didn’t know anybody but I met Steve and this year is the beginning of my adventure.”
Enter to win a copy of Niko’s CD, Per Te, by emailing Giveaways@BlastMagazine.com