Even in these uncertain times, one thing remains true: Crooners will never go out of style. From longtime legends such as Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett to a next-generation artist such as Michael Bublé, crooners have helped the lovers among us overcome insurmountable odds. With his solo debut “The Love Album,” Pelham Manor native Anthony Nunziata takes his place among the greats. A blend of standards and originals, “The Love Album” is a fine introduction to Nunziata, who may already be known to some for his musical performance collaborations with identical twin brother Will as the duo Will & Anthony. As the song says, “What the world needs now is love” and Anthony Nunziata provides it in abundance:
Anthony, do you recall when it was that you first discovered that you had the natural ability to sing?
“My dad always encouraged me to sing. I loved singing along to all the music playing around the house. Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., jazz standards, Broadway songs, Billy Joel, R&B: I loved all of it. I was a shy kid, though. I really found my voice and gained the confidence to really ‘sing out’ in high school after getting a lead role in the musical ‘The Secret Garden.’ From there, I just kept at it and never looked back.”
Of course, it’s one thing being able to sing and quite another to parlay that into a performing career. Do you remember when you realized that that was in the cards for you?
“Boston College choir director John Finney gave my brother Will and me the opportunity to sing as soloists with the Boston Pops during the beginning of my sophomore year. Every year the Pops came to Boston College to perform alongside the choir in the Conte Forum Arena. Singing alongside my brother, backed by the Boston Pops, with thousands of people in the audience, was a dream and it felt right. That amazing opportunity really unlocked what could be possible with hard work and luck.”
Who do you consider to be your top musical influences?
“I have so many musical influences, in so many genres, and that list is always growing. Here are three artists I was inspired by today — Al Jarreau, Lionel Richie and Lori McKenna. My list of all-time favorites includes Tony Bennett, Sammy Davis Jr., Luciano Pavarotti, Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garland and Lady Gaga.”
The last couple of years has been a busy time for you and includes the release of your full-length solo debut recording “The Love Album.” What does it mean to you to have completed such a project?
“I’m really proud of our album. I say ‘our’ because my team consists of some of the best musicians in the business. I’ve always envisioned for my solo album to mix together originals and my favorite classics.”
As you said, “The Love Album” is a blend, ranging from pop standards such as “Feeling Good” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” to show tunes like “Somewhere.” What was involved in selecting the cover material for the album?
“My goal was for the album to tell a love story — to explore all the facets of love. I began going through all my favorite classic songs and, along with my arranger Tedd Firth, we came up with arrangements that express a sense of urgency, sensuality and timelessness. I love Al Jarreau and R&B and the classic singers in the adult contemporary genre, and I wanted to fuse all of these sensibilities for the songs. I wanted each song to have its own arc, its own defining feel and sound.”
Four of the songs on “The Love Album” — “Love Me Anyway,” “I Found A Home,” “Will You Have Me Back?” and “Will You Be My Everyday?” — are originals co-written by you. What inspires you when it comes to songwriting?
“I try to keep my spirit open for inspiration at all times. I enjoy tapping into the nuances of love, belonging, family, everything Christmas, my hopes for the world — all the while exploring familiar sentiments in a fresh way. When not creating songs in set songwriting sessions, ideas come to me in the shower, while I’m exercising, on a plane or train, during a phone call with a friend, while meditating, waking up from my sleep. This is why I always make sure I have a charged phone with me to sing melodies, lyrics, ideas directly into the voice memo app. You just never know when inspiration is going to hit.”
Before the release of “The Love Album,” you and your twin brother Will released the album “Love Always.” Does birth order have anything to do with the billing when you perform as Will & Anthony?
“I wish. I was born first. In college, while we were getting our first singing gigs together and we were thinking about our brand name, “Will & Anthony” seemed to roll off the tongue better than Anthony & Will. I tease my brother that this is why I usually get an extra solo in our concerts.”
The two of you grew up in Pelham Manor. Do you have a favorite memory of the time that you spent there?
“I got my first taste of what ‘giving back’ is all about through events sponsored by the Pelham Civic Association. I fondly remember the annual wrapping of gifts at the Town House for families in need. The organization’s spirit of generosity taught me to love thy neighbor through love, kindness and by taking action. I am also grateful for the amazing education I received at Prospect Hill Elementary School, Pelham Middle School and Pelham Memorial High School. I would not be the artist I am today without my teachers — Trish Devincenzo, John Orefice, Debbie Myers and countless others.”
What can you tell the readers about Arts Matter!, the educational outreach initiative and master class workshops you do with your brother?
“Whether touring solo or with my brother, what brings me the most joy is conducting master classes and workshops whose goal is to educate and hopefully inspire students to fearlessly pursue their passions. My workshops incorporate elements of song study, acting and singing technique, a little bit of therapy and motivational speaking. I take a holistic approach to working with students. My goal is to create a safe space for students to freely be themselves — to express themselves in a judgment-free zone — all the while helping students build the tools in their artistic toolbox toward showing up, both onstage and off, as the best possible version of themselves.
With everything on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic, have you found ways to continue performing, via livestream, for example?
“In March I performed a few livestream concerts. Since then, I’ve been deep into songwriting for two album projects as well as for other artists. My team and I have written 14 songs in the past two months. It’s been such an emotional time that has forced me to do a lot of soul-searching. On a personal level and on a worldly level. I’m beginning to book up private Zoom concerts for organizations, families, groups of friends. I’m excited to bring these personal concerts to people. If readers would like a private concert you can reach out through my website. anthonynunziata.com.”