Percussion

Alessandra Belloni

We are excited to introduce Percussion Magazine's Featured Artist for March: Alessandra Belloni.

Alessandra Belloni: 21 Important Dates in Her Life

  • 1954: Born in Rome, Italy.
  • 1971: Moved to New York to be an artist as a singer and actress. She studied mime and Commedia dell’Arte with Dario Fo at the New York University and voice with Michael Warren and Walter Blazer.
  • 1974: Began studying acting at HB Studio — she appeared in the film Fellini’s Casanova (1976) as a Turkish princess.
  • 1977: After finding out the Italian folk music, she started making trips to Italy, doing research and being part of a folk music group of all women.
  • 1978: During a trip to Florence, she heard a rehearsal of the guitarist John La Barbera with his group, Pupi e Fresedde. The way their percussionist, Alfio Antico (a then-unknown Sicilian shepherd but today very famous in Italy and Europe), played the tambourine made her decide to become a percussionist and master that instrument.
  • 1979: Co-founded with John La Barbera the music, folk dance, and theatre group I Giullari di Piazza (“the town square players”), beginning their career as Artists-in-Residence at the New York University. Today she serves as the artistic director and lead performer of this group.
  • 1984: Took part in the feast of San Rocco of Torrepaduli in Salento, Apulia, a traditional summer event for tambourines and pizziche (dance).
  • 1986: Debut album with I Giullari di Piazza, Sulillo Mio (Meadowlark).
  • 1989: Second album with I Giullari di Piazza, Dea Fortuna (Shanachie).
  • 1991: I Giullari di Piazza became Artists-in-Residence at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City, where they remain today. She began a musical expedition through Southern Italy that would last six years (until 1997) and be recorded and published as a documentary under the title The Voyage of the Black Madonna.
  • 1995: Third album with I Giullari di Piazza, Earth, Sun & Moon (Lyrichord).
  • 1997: Was awarded a special grant from the Carnahan Jackson Humanities Fund for a residency in women studies at the State University of New York at Fredonia.
  • 2000: Debut solo album, Tarantata: Dance of the Ancient Spider (Sounds True).
  • 2001: Community Arts Project Award from Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.
  • 2003: Second solo album Tarantelle & Canti d’Amore (Naxos).
  • 2005: Italian Oral History Institute in Los Angeles Award.
  • 2007: Released the book & DVD Rhythm is The Cure: Southern Italian Tambourine (Mel Bay) and the solo album Daughter of the Drum (self-published).
  • 2009: Founded the Daughters of Cybele — a New York City troupe of women drummers. Released the solo album Tarantella Spider Dance (self-published) with I Giullari di Piazza.
  • 2013: Started to lead a pilgrimage to seven sacred sites of the Black Madonna in Italy.
  • 2016: Master Folk Artist Award from the New York State Council of the Arts, for the first time (second time, 2018).
  • 2019: Released her new book, Healing Journeys with the Black Madonna (Inner Traditions; Bear & Company).

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