Nilla Pizzi, winner of 1st San Remo song fest dies

Associated Press
FILE - In this Feb. 18, 2010 file photo Nilla Pizzi is honored with a prize for her career during the "Festival di Sanremo" Italian song contest at the Ariston theater in San Remo, Italy. Nilla Pizzi, winner of the first San Remo festival, and whose voice was deemed too sensual to sing on radio during the fascist regime of Benito Mussolini, died on Saturday. She was 91, said RAI state TV, which broadcasts the week-long festival of Italian song each year. The Italian President Giorgio Napolitano in a condolence message hailed Pizza as a "sensitive and popular interpreter of the Italian melodic tradition." During fascist rule in the years before World War II, Pizzi was kept away from radio work because her voice was deemed too "modern, exotic and sensual," the Italian news agency said. (AP Photo/Alberto Pellaschiar, File)
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FILE - In this Feb. 18, 2010 file photo Nilla Pizzi is honored with a prize for her career during the …

Nilla Pizzi, an Italian singer whose voice was deemed too sensual for radio during the fascist regime of Benito Mussolini has died. She was 91.

Pizzi died on Saturday at a clinic in Milan, where she was convalescing from an earlier operation, the state television said.

The Italian President Giorgio Napolitano hailed Pizzi in his condolence message as a sensitive interpreter of Italy's tradition of melodic song.

During fascist rule in the years before World War II, Pizzi was kept away from radio work because her voice was deemed too "modern, exotic and sensual," according to Italian news agency ANSA.

Pizzi triumphed at the 1951 inaugural edition of San Remo, the star-studded festival which promotes Italian song. When she was 90, she sang at San Remo to mark 60 years of the festival and delighted the audience with a still strong and lovely voice.

She also won at San Remo the second year, in 1952, sweeping the festival's top three prizes, but finished in second place in 1958, when Domenico Modugno won with "Nel blu dipinto di blu," better known to countless people worldwide as "Volare."

Pizzi was born Adionilla Pizzi, on April 16, 1919, in Sant'Agata Bolognese, a town near Bologna in the Emilia Romagna region of north central Italy.

She once described the secret of her success as singing those songs which "bring on a good mood, happiness, and maybe even some beautiful memories."

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