Elisa Toffoli

Italy / USA

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For as far back as she can remember, Elisa has been moved and transformed by the magic and passion of music. Her gift for expressing the essence of that transformation through her own art has elevated her to superstar status in her native Italy, where she has collaborated with icons including Pavarotti, Bocelli and Tina Turner, earned multiplatinum record sales and won a bevy of high profile awards.

Elisa’s graceful musical signature seamlessly integrates pop, alt-rock, soul and a poetic sense of the classic singer-songwriter aesthetic. With an authentic voice as natural, delicate and vulnerable as it is intensely powerful, Elisa weaves a spell with her songs, which clearly come from deep inside her. She fully inhabits her music, drawing others in with pure emotional intelligence and brave, soul-baring honesty.

“My songs are centered on emotions,” said Elisa, who has drawn comparisons to artists including Leona Lewis, Alanis Morissette and Corinne Bailey Rae, but possesses a soulful, organic style that’s distinctly her own. “I describe states of mind, and my dynamic involves creating tension, building it and then releasing. It’s like a rubber band; I try to stretch it as much as I can. Then I let go.”

Building on global success, Elisa is now emerging as a star in America. In 2007, “Dancing,” the title track to her 2008 North American debut album on Sugar/Universal, was heard on the hit FOX-TV series So You Think You Can Dance. Audience response to the ethereal ballad was so overwhelming that the song soared to the Top 20 on iTunes. It has since seen over 80,000 paid downloads, and the SYTCYD clip has been viewed upwards of one million times on YouTube.

The full version of “Dancing” and an edit are on Elisa’s U.S. debut Dancing, along with ten more original compositions – including the stand-outs “Rainbow” and “The Waves” – plus an exquisite, elegiac cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” An exclusive iTunes edition of the album also presents Elisa’s dreamlike take on the Jagger-Richards classic “Wild Horses,” a song uncannily suited to her emotive vibe.

A live performance of Elisa singing “Dancing” is spotlighted on the early 2008 DVD release Vivere: Andrea Bocelli Live In Tuscany, which also features her sublime duet with the legendary tenor on the beautiful Italian song “La Voce Del Silenzio.” Both performances were filmed at a special one-night concert in Bocelli’s Tuscan hometown of Lajatico at a musical celebration also featuring Chris Botti, Sarah Brightman and David Foster, among others.

Elisa’s own most recent release, Soundtrack ’96-’06 (Sugar), is a compilation of seventeen of her biggest hits and best loved songs from her first decade as a performer. A #1 disc in Europe, where it was the one of the best-selling albums of ’06, Soundtrack’s highlights include “Gli ostacoli del cuore,” Elisa’s chart-topping duet with Italian superstar Luciano Ligabue. Multiple-GRAMMY®-honored producer Glen Ballard produced the collection, and said, “When I first met Elisa, I was very impressed to find a true and real artist. In the noise and fast pace of today’s culture, we need real artists who are able to express things we don’t even have time to talk about.”

Elisa was born and raised in Monfalcone, a town of about 50,000 in Friuli-Venezia in northeast Italy where, she remembers, “Everybody sang.” She also recalls, “As a teenager, the hunger for music was a physical thing. It was a very big need, because there were not that many other things to do. Music became a great way to escape – to be wherever you wanted to be without moving.”

In her escapes of fancy, she tuned into American music early, and was inspired to begin writing in English after discovering Jim Morrison’s poetry from American Prayer. Elisa also explored the work of diverse artists including Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, Joni Mitchell and Smashing Pumpkins. After making her first demos, she auditioned for Sugar Records’ Caterina Caselli, beginning an association with the label that remains intact to this day.

Her 1998 debut album, Pipes & Flowers, recorded in Northern California with producer Darren Allison, went triple-platinum in Italy and won the prestigious Tenco Award for Best Debut Album, marking the first time the honor was bestowed on an album performed in a foreign language. Elisa followed this success with another multi-platinum seller, 2000’s Asile’s World.

Elisa’s career momentum continued with five awards from the world renowned Festival de Sanremo including a “Best Performer” special award. Other awards include an MTV European Music Award for “Best Italian Artist” and a trio of Federation of Italian Music Industry (FIMI) honors including “Best Female Singer” and “Best Single” for “Luce (tramonti a nord est).” In addition to her recent participation in Bocelli’s Tuscan homecoming concert, Elisa’s performances on extraordinary world stages include dueting with Luciano Pavarotti at the final session of Pavarotti & Friends, and singing a gospel version of the Italian National Anthem at the closing ceremony for the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics.

As she prepares to take on a whole new world of audiences in North America with the release of Dancing and a subsequent tour – her first in the U.S. – Elisa says, “The important thing for me is to get out and play, and to connect with people. We’re all the same; we share the same emotions and relate to the same feelings. The world is one place.”

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