Andrea Bocelli talks Las Vegas, Celine Dion and the importance of opera

We sing the masterpiece of art that is inside us (the mirror, for a believer as I am, of the wonder of creation), we celebrate the beauty that we can grow and live every day.” — Andrea Bocelli

Great interview with Andrea Bocelli by Robin Leach in the Las Vegas Sun News:
Q+A: Andrea Bocelli talks Las Vegas, touring, Celine Dion and the importance of opera [Las Vegas Sun News; Dec. 2, 2013].

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George W. Bush, the Renaissance Man

George W. Bush, the man who told Jay Leno that he named his cat Bob, “So I can remember how to spell it when I get older,” has been very busy.

Between rounds of golf, organizing and riding in 100K mountain bike rides with America’s wounded warriors, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston Texas, and personally refurbishing health clinics in Africa, through the Bush Center’s partnership with Pink Ribbon/Red Ribbon, whose mission is to screen women, in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, for cervical and breast cancer, the 43rd President of the United States has also become an accomplished portrait painter.

President Bush charged his painting instructor, Gail Norfleet, with a task. “There’s a Rembrandt trapped in this body. Your job is to find it.”

While a guest on the The Tonight Show on Tuesday, November 19, 2013, President Bush presented a portrait he had painted of Jay Leno to the late night television host.

Jay Leno portrait

Jay Leno portrait by President George W. Bush

President Bush has plans to paint portraits of 19 foreign presidents and prime ministers with whom he worked during his tenure at the White House. He has already provided the artwork for a Christmas ornament, which may be purchased through the Bush Center web site.

Bush Center Ornament

Bush Center Ornament

See also:
As Bush Settles Into Dallas, Golf Tees and Family Time Now Trump Politics [New York Times; Nov 2, 2013]

George Bush Shows Off Painting Hobby, Shares Jay Leno Portrait [US Weekly; Nov 20, 2013]

George W. Bush Presidential Center

Master of Voice: Andrea Bocelli

Andrea Bocelli received a Master’s Degree in Vocal Performance on Tuesday, October 22, 2013, from the Giacomo Puccini Conservatory in La Spezia, Italy. His CD/DVD, Love in Portofino, was released the same day. The 55-year-old Italian tenor also has a degree in Law from the University of Pisa.

See Also:
Bocelli Gets Master’s Degree in Vocal Performance [Italy Magazine; October 26, 2013]

40 Years On: From Abbey Road to Woodstock

Saturday, August 7, 2009, marked 40 years since the 1969 photo shoot for the Beatles’ iconic Abbey Road album cover. In commemoration of the event, hundreds of Beatles fans from across the universe had come together at the famous zebra crossing. Those who could not be there were able to watch on their computer monitors thanks to a live web cam, something not possible when the Beatles crossed that street 40 years ago. Oh the times, they are a-changin’.

The year 1969 was pivotal in the evolution of popular culture. Promoters of a festival billed as “three days of peace and music” sold 186,000 tickets to the August 15-17, 1969, event at Yasgur’s farm in upstate New York. Over half a million people showed up. Heavy traffic caused as many as a million more to turn back and miss the event known as Woodstock. The rain and mud-soaked attendees were entertained by Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, The Who, Jefferson Airplane, Santana, Ravi Shankar, Joan Baez, Mountain, The Band, Richie Havens, and a break-out performance of the Beatles’ hit With A Little Help From My Friends by Joe Cocker.

The Daily Mail takes an amusing look back in, Forty far-out facts you never knew about Woodstock. One of my personal favorite facts is this one:

23. Off-duty police officers were banned from providing security, so a New Mexico commune known as the Hog Farm were hired to form a ‘Please Force.’ The Hog Farmers were led by Wavy Gravy, a toothless former beatnik comic, who put on a Smokey-the-Bear suit and warned troublemakers they would be doused in fizzy water or hit with custard pies.

In 1990, I met Wavy Gravy in a coffee store in Berkeley, California. He was running for Berkeley City Council (he lost), and he gave me a silk-screened campaign poster! His campaign slogan was “Let’s elect a real clown for a change.” Hmmm. Change we can believe in?

Art Grant Hits Bottom

The British Press is calling it “cheeky” and a “bum deal.” Welsh artist Sue Williams, 53, was awarded a £20,000 ($32,760 US) grant to study cultural attitudes towards female buttocks. Mrs. Williams explained, “The project is taking on the issues around the bottom and how it is viewed in contemporary culture and viewed by the male.” Her evaluation process entails making plaster casts of women’s behinds.

The Arts Council of Wales awarded the grant, which was funded by lottery sales. Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament Adrian Sanders speculated that most people would question using the lottery money for this purpose. However, the comments on The Sun’s web site ranged from wry to favorable. There were more than a couple of offers of assistance.

Hollywood Walk of Fame 2010

The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce released the names of the 28 celebrities who will be honored with a pink terrazzo five-pointed star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2010, the Walk’s 50th anniversary.

The 2010 Hollywood Walk of Fame recipients are:

  • Motion Pictures:
    James Cameron, Russell Crowe, John Cusack, Colin Firth, Gale Anne Hurd, Alan Menken, Randy Newman, Adam Sandler, Emma Thompson and Mark Wahlberg
  • Television:
    Chris Berman, Jon Cryer, Peter Graves, Jimmy Kimmel, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Bill Maher, and Sam Waterston
  • Recording:
    Bryan Adams, The Funk Brothers, Alan Jackson, Chaka Khan, Van Morrison, Marco Antonio Solis, Ringo Starr, ZZ Top and posthumously Roy Orbison
  • Live Performance/Theatre:
    Andrea Bocelli and Cirque Du Soleil/Guy Laliberte

Andrea Bocelli & Gianluca Ginoble

He is being called “the new Andrea Bocelli,” and if you watch a couple of the performance videos on YouTube of 14-year old singing prodigy Gianluca Ginoble performing in Ti Lascio Una Canzone, you will know why.

The video below shows Andrea Bocelli addressing a very surprised and emotional Gianluca Ginoble. If, like mine, your understanding of Italian is very limited, you can still appreciate the moment.

See Also:
The New Italian Trio, Leaving Us a Song [Art2u: Art Right; June 19, 2009]