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
"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
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
"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."