An interview with singer and songwriter Jessie Galante
by Tina Hall
Jessie Galante had been working in rock since the 80’s when she was in the band Actor in Buffalo, NY. Her first solo album was later released under the name Gesua, her Sicilian name. She also lived for a time in Holland.
Jessie’s newest album “Spitfire” was co-produced by Larry Swist (who worked with Lou Gramm, Ike and Tina Turner, Sly and the Family Stone) and Grammy award winner Mick Guzauski (who mixed Eric Clapton, Michael Jackson, Anastacia, KISS, Madonna, Celine Dion, and Earth, Wind, and Fire. The album also features covers of Sass Jordan’s “High Road Easy’”, and Gladys Knight and the Pips’ “I’ve Got To Use My Imagination”.
There is an impressive lineup of artists from America and from Europe on the album as well. From the US is bassist Jack Daley (Lenny Kravitz, Joss Stone, Janet Jackson, Everlast), guitarist Rob Bailey (Billy Joel, Jive Jones, Mandy Moore, Anastacia), drummer Frank Ferrer (Guns N’ Roses, Tommy Stintson, Psychedelic Furs), and From Hungary she has Janos Szuccs and Peter Raso on guitar, Tibor Ferenczi on bass, and Jano Takacs on drums who joins her band for her seasonal European work.
Maximum Ink: What was it like to grow up in a Sicilian household? What is your fondest early memory from those days?
Jessie Galante: Our home was a lot of fun. I have four brothers and we are very close thanks to our parents who believed in doing everything as a family. Music was a big part of our lives as my father used to listen to traditional Italian/Sicilian music and play clarinet and my mother had an amazing singing voice. All five of us played an instrument until I eventually turned to singing. As it turns out four out of the five of us now have careers in music. The fondest memory I have from those days is sitting around the kitchen table at dinner time yelling, laughing, screaming at each other….chaotic! I miss those days. However to this day, when the five of us get to get together, which is rare because we are spread out all over the country, we turn into kids again and act the same way.
MI: How old were you when you first knew you wanted to be a singer?
JG: I was a late bloomer when I decided I wanted to make music my career. When my father passed away it was a wake up call for me. At that time, I was married, had a house and a great job, but with my father passing away, I looked at my life….it was boring! So I left my job, left my husband, sold the house and ended up singing in a very popular band six nights a week!
MI: What is the one thing you missed most when you first left to pursue your career?
JG: If you mean leaving Buffalo, I miss my family and close friends!
MI: How does the music scene in America differ most from the one in Europe?
JG: The music scene in Europe is thriving with all kinds of music on all different levels. They don’t follow trends, they just like good music. Festivals are huge and growing too. As far as audiences go, Europeans listen…hard. They are serious about good music and know you. They know your songs and they follow your musical career. They hunger for it and not inhibited to show it. When I play there, they are respectful and show that respect that I’m a hard-working American artist successful enough to the point of being able to tour in different countries. The media are very interested in you as an artist and also take the time to know you and dig deep into your soul.
MI: What was it like in Holland? What did you enjoy most about living there?
JG: Living in Holland was one of the best experiences of my life! We lived in Maastricht for nine months. It’s a beautiful city in the south of Holland known for it’s gorgeous romantic streets and history. It was like being on vacation every day. The nine months that we lived there set the foundation for me to play there for years and I’m planning to play there again early 2011. What I enjoyed most about living there is having made so many close Dutch friends that we keep in close contact with, oh yeah Skype!
MI: What does it feel like to have worked with such talents musicians as the ones who join you on this album and on the road?
JG: I feel a constant surge of inspiration from each one and how unique they are given their talents and accomplishments. There’s a lot of power in inspiration. So when I’m in the same room or stage with all of them I absorb that power.
MI: Do you have any amusing stories from over the course of your career you’d care to share?
JG: A few years ago I played a festival in Budapest Hungary (which can be viewed on my High Road Easy video). Towards the end of that show, someone in the audience handed me a bottle of something. I didn’t know what it was so I asked the crowd and they all shouted Palinka. When I repeated the name, everybody cheered. Palinka is a traditional Hungarian fruit brandy and it comes in different strengths depending on what kind of fruit is used and if it’s home-made. Hungarians are very proud of their Palinka. I took a few sips and said that it was really good, strong but really good. After that I saw frantic arms reaching out to me with all different kinds of Palinka. They wouldn’t let me leave the stage! But by the time I went back stage, people were handing me glasses of their home-made brews which were even stronger…yikes! From then on I was addressed as the Palinka girl from America and given bottles of it to take home!
MI: What do you like to do in your spare time?
JG: Spare time? Spare time is at the end of the day when I hit the couch to watch a movie. I am a work-a-alcoholic, my brain never shuts off.
MI: Which of the songs you’ve released would you say is your favorite and why?
JG: No Fool No More. It’s a strong declaration to myself and others not to be a sucker for love.
MI: Do you ever get stage fright? How do you deal with that?
JG: No! I never ever get stage fright. I get stage anxious! I love, love, love being up on any stage and that doesn’t come from arrogance it comes
from just sheer love of singing and performing! This is what I do!
MI: What do you think you will do if you ever stop being a musician?
JG: What! If I ever stopped to think about that then I’ve already stopped.
MI: What is the best advice anyone has ever given you?
JG: Do what you love!
MI: What projects are you looking forward to next?
JG: We’re starting to write for a new CD with Rob Bailey and other songwriters,.and planning tour dates for Europe early 2011. 2011 will be my busiest year ever! Like I told my publicist Anne Leighton look out world!
CD: Spitfire Record Label: Greedy Songbird Music
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