International Diva Laura Pausini Eyes U.S. Success

Excerpted from the magazine for

Laura Pausini is making the rounds like any new artist. She's visiting radio stations, sitting for interviews, and playing industry showcases, among other duties. But there's one difference between Pausini and other hopefuls working the industry marketing machine. She's been doing it for 10 years -- just not in the U.S.

In Europe, Pausini is a bona fide diva, having racked up sales of more than 22 million, according to Atlantic Records. Now, she's starting over in the U.S. with her first English-language set, "From the Inside," which the label will release on Nov. 5.

Pausini is one of the few artists to have successful records in Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese. She was born and raised in Italy, and she launched her career by winning the Italian Song Festival in San Remo. Soon she was a platinum-selling artist in her home country.

Then came an offer to sing in Spanish. "It's difficult for an Italian artist to perform in a foreign language," Pausini says. "When I received a proposal to do it in Spanish, it was something that made me apprehensive. I'm a perfectionist. I wanted to sound correct."

She obviously got it right. She soon became so successful in the Latin community that in 2001 she was nominated for several Latin Grammy Awards. With the Latin market under her belt, her next stop was Brazil, where Pausini became one of the first Italian artists to have success singing in Portuguese. But now it's America she wants to conquer.

"When I started singing in Spanish, I didn't expect anything to come from it," she says. "I'm proud of every song I wrote and sang. Now I feel ready to try in this very important country."

Her linguistic versatility is impressive. On "From the Inside," her accent is virtually invisible. Each of the album's producers -- John Shanks (Michelle Branch, Stevie Nicks), K.C. Porter (Santana, Ricky Martin) Guy Roche (Cher, Celine Dion), Evan Rogers and Carl Sturken ('N Sync), Patrick Leonard (Jewel, Madonna), and Jimmy Bralower (Cyndi Lauper) -- has showcased Pausini's exceptional interpretations through material as diverse as her languages. There are midtempo cuts like the single "Surrender," powerful ballads like second single designate "If That's Love" and "It's Not Goodbye," such rock-inflected tunes as "Love Comes From the Inside," and the dance effort "I Do to Be."

Atlantic co-president Craig Kallman says the goal was to craft a "world-class album that felt like it was coming from Laura. It was a challenge to find things lyrically that struck a nerve and came from her heart. What's so magical about this record is her interpretation. She's not as stylized or overwrought as some of the straight 'diva' singers; there's something expressive and emotional that serves the songs, and she's done that in three languages."

Even so, such a feat doesn't seem all that daunting to Pausini. "I grew up and was raised through all my travels throughout the world, all the different sounds and rhythms," she says. "Being in front of people who have to judge me because they don't know who I am doesn't bother me at all. That may sound strange, but I always meet new people, people I don't know. I'm only 28, not 78, so why not take chances? I've been on the road my entire adult life. I've never had a real job! How incredible."

Excerpted from the Oct. 26, 2002, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the members section.

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