I Viaggiatori(the Travellers)

In tune with her heritage

01 Jun, 2010 10:10 AM

Growing up musician Kavisha Mazzella never liked her Italian-ness.

She wanted to be like Australian kids - the ones with the plain names who ate Vegemite sandwiches instead of exotic pastas.

She didn't want people to know that her uncle sang Neapolitan opera in the kitchen or that her family migrated to the country on a ship.

Decades later Mazzella, an ARIA award-winning musician, is amused by her uneasiness to accept her Italian heritage.

As it turns out, her heritage has shaped her life in a way she never imagined.

"When we were young we didn't like these songs because they reminded us that we were different from the Aussies," the Melbourne-based singer says.

"We were different, we were outsiders. I was embarrassed about (our Italian culture and music). I didn't really want to be a wog.

"But really it has turned out to be the richest experience because you can look into what you are and explore all those gifts of your heritage.

"And what's really lovely about doing (Italian folk music album) Suitcase Serenata, it's a way to acknowledge a turnaround - the things that we rejected we now not only accept, but we celebrate."

Suitcase Serenata is the new album from Mazzella's collaborative band I Viaggiatori, which features musicians Irine Vela (bouzouki, mandolin, guitar), David De Santi (piano accordion) and Mark Holder-Keeping (saxophone, clarinet).

The band was formed on a whim at the 2006 National Folk Festival in Canberra when Mazzella was seeking some musicians to perform live with the silent documentary film Dall' Italia All' Australia.

The music was such a hit with audiences that the group has been performing periodically ever since.

Mazzella has also been writing music for another solo album, Love and Sorrow, and teaching choirs.

For her, the Italian-inspired Suitcase Serenata has been a long time in the making.

"In a way it has taken 30 years to make this record, because of (our) journeys and the process of being a migrant, feeling like an outsider and then finally relaxing enough to accept one's heritage and celebrate it with the greater Australian community."

to enquire about the CD "SUITCASE SERENATA"