Despite a career that lasted barely four years, singer Alessandra Casaccia released some excellent records in her native Italy. However, she fell out of favour as the music industry moved on, and, tragically, her life was cut short in a plane crash in 1995.
She was born on 12 December 1950 in Falconara Marittima, near Ancona, in Italy.
From a young age, Alessandra was set on becoming a singer and she began vocal training in Naples as a teenager. Around the age of 17 or 18 she took part in the 1968 Concorso per voci nuove, a popular launch pad for new vocalists, at the Festival di Castrocaro. The festival began its life in 1957 and is still going today. However, the prize for female singer that year ultimately went to Rosalba Archilletti with the song Quando sei con me e con un ciao.
Nevertheless, the strength of Alessandra’s voice, remarked upon at the time as a blend of Rita Pavone’s higher tones and Patty Pravo’s lower range, led to a record deal with major Italian label Ariston.
The record company believed strongly in their new artist and teamed her up with their best songwriters. So, in the summer of 1968, her debut, Vedo il sole a mezzanotte, a superb Morricone-influenced track, was released. It was backed with the similarly inspired Quel ragazzo che non sorride mai. The single performed moderately well in the charts and allowed the young Alessandra to forge a full-time career as a singer.
Her second single, Nella valigia delle mie vacanze, issued later the same year, reaffirmed her now statement mid-paced pop style combined with her impressive vocal abilities. The flip, Ragazzo strano, was again a fine interpretation of this style.
Alessandra rounded of the year with a final release, Un volo nella notte, a fantastic pop effort penned by Umberto Bindi and Alessandra’s most popular to date.
1969 was a major year for Alessandra, beginning with her participation in the prestigious San Remo music festival with the song Piccola, piccola. The practice at the time was to have two singers perform each song, and Carmen Villani became its other singer. However, while catchy, the song was not up to the standard of either Alessandra or Carmen’s previous singles, though it did prove moderately successful with the judges, finishing 11th.
Alessandra issued the song as a 45, with, perhaps surprisingly, her previous A-side, Un volo nella notte, on the flip. It proved her most successful with record buyers to date and should have set her on the road to more deserved success.
Her first attempt to capitalise on her widened recognition was the frenetic Bocca taci. This demand to “shut your mouth” proved a return to form that showcased the more fiery aspects of her voice. The mariachi-themed Adesso siamo pari was included as the B-side for this summer release.
This was followed up with one of her finest moments, and, incidentally, her first cover, Mi sentivo una regina. It had been written by the legendary American songwriters Curt Boettcher and partner Lee Mallory as both There is nothing more to say for their sunshine pop outfit The Millennium and also as an unreleased recording by Lou Christie, under the title Canterbury Road. It was also given to Alessandra – with fantastic results. Combining both her natural poignancy and a lavish production, it was a highlight of her career. Another cover, this time of UK soul outfit The Equals’ Michael and the slipper tree, Michael e le sue pantofole, could be found on the reverse. Although they performed well, these and subsequent singles did not set the charts alight.
As a new decade dawned, Il cuore scoppierà was chosen to be the lead track of a new single. However, the rousing Per le strade nasce l'amore, on the other side of the disc, proved the more convincing of the two tracks.
In comparison to her earlier records, the songs showcased a more mature direction for the singer, in keeping with the changing industry. This favoured singer-songwriters, and left many performers, popular just a few years earlier, out of favour with the record-buying public.
For reasons unknown, Il cuore scoppierà was issued again in 1971, backed with a new song, the carnival-esque Mangerei una mela. Sadly, it proved her final release.
Redirecting her efforts into her passion for painting, Alessandra forged a new life for herself. Concentrating on still lives and landscapes, often featuring ethereal female figures dressed all in white, she painted with a style reminiscent of the French Impressionists. This career move proved quite fruitful, eventually leading to an exhibition at the Grand Palais in Paris.
During this period, Alessandra also married and had two children.
Sadly, tragedy struck in the summer of 1995. During a flight in a light aircraft with her 17-year-old son, Alexis, the engine stalled and the plane crashed into the sea off the coast of her home town. Both she and her son died at the scene, along with the pilot and his grandson who was also on board the plane.
With thanks to Matthew Meek for contributing this profile.
Our pick of the pops
Vedo il sole a mezzanotte
Un volo nella notte
Mi sentivo una regina
Per le strade nasce l'amore