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Barbara Baldieri - From modelling, to acting, to singing

Story: Jack Foley

FROM 80s icons Madonna and Gloria Estefan through to the likes of Nelly Furtado, Shakira and Jennifer Lopez, the past two decades have proved that Latin genes and American ambition can provide the essential ingredients for success.

Italian-American singer, Barbara Baldieri, is hoping to be added to that list.

With her sultry cover-girl looks and Italian passion and sense of style, she certainly looks as though she possesses the x-factor needed to make her presence felt in the world of pop.

Yet Barbara is no stranger to the spotlight, having already enjoyed a hugely successful career as fashion model, working for some of the world's most famous designers and magazines.

In America she has also enjoyed a successful acting career, but decided to return to her childhood love for music and dancing to (hopefully) find the fame she craves.

The youngest of five sisters and two brothers, Barbara was born in Rome, but split her formative years between Italy and America, because her parents ran a string of restaurants and clubs, as well as a company, which exported Italian food to the US.

"It certainly made life more interesting," she comments, recalling her family's constant shuttling between Rome and Los Angeles. "We'd be changing schools every year, so it wasn't stable, but we grew up fast."

Her big break came during one of the family's longer stays in America, however, when a scout from a prestigious Italian model agency spotted her.

Despite being just 16, Barbara signed with Italy Models and moved to Milan, where her Latin looks made her an instant hit with world-renowned designers like Jean Paul Gaultier and the likes of fashion bible Italian Vogue.

"Modelling was great fun," she says. "And I loved being away from home, and travelling every week to Paris and Monte Carlo and making my own money, but it wasn't fulfilling. I knew that something was missing."

While living in Milan, Barbara would often visit her parents Rome club, Malindi, which is where she took her first step towards her future singer career, albeit accidentially.

"Whenever I went to the club I would get up and sing, you know just for fun," she continued.

"One time there was this famous Italian singer there, Luca Sardella. His backing singer had just quit, and he asked me if I like to do background vocals for him. So for a while, when I wasn't modelling, I used to sing with him when he did a show or was on TV. That was the first time that I'd ever actually sung professionally."

Finding the fashion world unfulfilling, however, Barbara returned to LA to regroup and found herself in acting.

"In Hollywood, everyone's an actor," she observes, when asked about her roles in independent films, and numerous TV parts, including a stint on long-running US hit TV series, Married With Children.

"It was going well, and, at times, I loved acting," she says with a resigned laugh.

"But something was still missing inside me... And then I thought back to when I was a kid. I used to say to my mum, 'I wanna be Madonna'," she laughs. "I wanted to be a performer, to sing and dance. I was probably 12 when I first sang in my parents' club, and I always loved it, playing to a crowd.

"Then I thought about the shows I did with Luca Sardella, and I realised that I really wanted to be a singer."

Since then she's adopted a grueling schedule to make her earliest childhood ambition a reality.

Her determination has seen her working with some of the music business' biggest names, including voice coach, Ron Anderson (Kylie Minogue, Mary J Blige, Red Hot Chili Peppers), and choreographer, Gil Duldulao (Janet Jackson), to ensure her status as a world-class performer.

"For me entertaining is about singing and dancing. That's why I love European music," she explains.

"In America, it's all R&B, which is great, but when I go to a club I wanna dance. I like music that makes you wanna dance, even if you're sitting in your car in traffic."

Her debut album was subsequently recorded predominantly in Denmark with this in mind, with the assistance of emerging writing/production duo Lars Jensen and Martin Larssen.

And Barbara is delighted with the result, stating: "I'm so happy right now, I wouldn't change anything about my life.

"I've finally found what was missing. You know, I'd never rule anything out. I would love to have my own fashion line and if the right project came along I might do films in the future. But would I give up singing for that? No. I would never be taken away from my music."

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