My father ran a bar. For me, it was a source of joy and pride to be able to help him prepare the socks (in the Italian tradition, they were topped with sweets) that would be sold for Epiphany. Sweets were once scarce and January 6 was really eagerly awaited. I prepared many piles so that each sock had the same contents, not forgetting a lump of charcoal for each.
That evening, we got home pretty early and, like every night during Christmas time, I stopped in front of the crib my father had set up on a large table next to the Christmas tree.
The hut which housed the Holy Family, the ox and the donkey, had been built by my father with irregular pieces of wood. At the edge of a small lake was a village built in the rock made of paper. The glow of the lights placed in the crib magically enlivened the atmosphere. On the path made of small white stones on the green moss mantle, there was a shepherd with a lamb on the shoulder, four sheep and three ducks followed him, he wore a shirt with a coat tied with a leather belt. Near the hut an old woman was spinning wool. From the balcony of a small house, another woman with a slightly suffering face and a child in her arms appeared. Then, we recognized other characters such as the laundress, the fisherman, the hunter, the winemaker, the baker, the butcher, the poultry seller and the piper, and all of them completed this beautiful picture. I loved animating the figures with little dialogues. According to tradition, the arrival of the wise men at the hut was expected and my father, on the morning of the eve of Epiphany, had arranged to place them in a decorative way in front of the Little Jesus. While I was looking at the crib, my mother called me for dinner. I ran quickly. I had never wanted to go to bed early like that night, because the next day the gift of Befana, “the Witch”, awaited me.
The next morning, I woke up a little afraid of a bad dream. The big red package that I saw at the foot of the bed filled me with joy. Like a squirrel on an acorn, I threw myself at the gift, very excited, and a little intrigued, I carefully tore the glossy wrapping paper to delicately uncover its contents.
– Awesome! A Bontempi keyboard! It is fantastic did I scream.
I never imagined such a gift. The Witch had really had a great intuition!
Despite the early hour, I began to improvise Christmas carols that caught the attention of my puzzled mother who was making breakfast for my little brother. At just 5 years old, not knowing the notes, I was strangely able to reproduce the melodies by ear, much to the astonishment of my parents. This is how my great artistic adventure began. I was so happy that I completely forgot about my own sock with candy and charcoal.
On May 1, 1977, Gennaro Prato, alias Valentino, was born in Naples. From the first years spent on the outskirts of Naples, precisely in Secondigliano, he began to develop a passion for music. He studied the piano and performed in various clubs, thus perfecting his musical technique. At 17, he won the regional stage of the Rino Gaetano Prize in Pomigliano’Arco with the song The Colors of the World, written by himself. In 1997, he obtained his piano diploma and his musical curiosity led him to learn other instruments and other musical techniques, thus becoming a multi-instrumentalist and arranger.
The countless travels through Italy bring him to always know new techniques acquiring a prestigious musical maturity.
After many years of learning and experience he was discovered by Nino D’Angelo, a well-known Neapolitan singer, who wanted him as a co-protagonist in his film AITANIC and by Angelo Coppola, a music producer. Both helped him grow professionally and quickly.
In 2017, at the age of 40, he released his album Cambiamento, the fruit of great artistic maturity: the confirmation of the return of this boy who, in pursuit of his dream, had moved away from the difficulties of the neighbourhood in which he lived. Funky amore is the single from the album chosen as a testament to the fight against violence against women.
In 2018, he released the album La mia vita, an autobiographical album where we find very important songs such as Amare and Via da questo mondo. Two pieces that will then participate in the Social Web Festival in Turin broadcast on RAI in May of the same year, where Valentino Prato was ranked in 3rd place among 150 participants from all over Italy. Later, he did a mini tour with his group in the south of Italy, confirming more and more his great talent, which allowed him to collaborate with many renown Italian singers.
In March 2020, in the midst of a period of confinement, he created an important project, which immediately enjoyed great success: Radio Production Web which would later become Web TV would receive national and international artists on its set: singers, musicians, actors and experts. in various disciplines.
But let’s try to understand this great artist even more …
– Gennaro, who is Valentino Prato?
– He is a very simple and ambitious man. An eternal dreamer, lover of nature and all forms of art. He does not like ignorance, stupidity, social envy and anything that makes the individual mundane. He enjoys spontaneous and intense writing. He made his music the first source of his life, a mission given by God in which he greatly believed.
– How has the piano bar enriched you professionally?
– For me, the piano bar was a great exercise. During my performances, the contact with people in hotels, pubs, discotheques brought me a lot. A unique experience that helped me to decrease my shyness and to dissolve my dialectic by confronting me with many types of different cultures. I have worked for many years in tourist places known all over the world such as Capri and Sorrento.
– How was your professional and artistic career born?
– My professional and personal paths were born as if by magic in symbiosis. Since I was a child, I have always loved playing and writing. I already knew that I was an artist, without forgetting my personal life.
– How was the meeting with Nino D’Angelo?
– The meeting in 1999 with Nino D’Angelo is the result of chance. I used to sing in a well-known club in the center of Naples. Nino D’Angelo’s then-manager saw me and listened to me. He told me that I was perfect to play the role in his next movie because of my very special voice. After a few days he took me to Nino D’Angelo and that’s how he chose me for the film, fascinated by my talent. The film, titled AITANIC, was released in November 2000 in all Italian cinemas and in 14 countries around the world. We have toured for promotion on numerous talk shows on TV, RAI and Mediaset. Among these, Buona Domenica on Canale 5 with Maurizio Costanzo, Paola Barale and Claudio Lippi; Domenica In with Mara Venier and many others.
– What does your next album have more than the others?
– My next album will be released in September 2021. I will definitely devote more attention to directing just because I’m back after a great record Un’altra storia, which gave me great satisfaction. It brought me the victory of the Lucio Dalla Prize in the Campania region, ranked 1st with the song Ignoranza. I was also the national winner of the Sanremo 2020 showcase with the song Ma quale amore. It was broadcast on more than 250 Web and FM radios. First for several weeks in the ranking of many national TV broadcasters such as RADIO ITALIA ANNI 60 TV and Gold TV.
– Do you have any remorse or regret about something?
– Sometimes there are always small remorses or regrets. In my case, very little because I have always been very careful not to accept compromises. The only real regret is that of not having lived my childhood as a child of this age because living in a very difficult neighborhood on the northern outskirts of Naples, Secondigliano, I had to mature quickly to escape this reality.
– Three adjectives to describe your music.
– Can you tell us about the Leonardo association and the fact that they have you as a sponsor?
– The Leonardo di Vico Equense association is concerned with socio-cultural solidarity and was created by the doctor Anna Vanni, famous and important gynecologist of the Sorrento peninsula. The name Leonardo comes from his beloved nephew. With the song Funkyamore, included in my artistic consecration album “Cambiamento” released in 2017, I was called as a resident singer-songwriter and known to be the ambassador against violence against women.
– La mia vita, Un’altra storia, and plans for the future?
– My next album already has the title even if it will be released in September 2021. It will be called Il posto migliore. It will include 9 new songs and in one of them I will be a duet with a big name in Italian music. The musicians will be important, among which there will be the drummer Eugenio Mori, the drummer of Franco Battiato, Biagio Antonacci, and Max Pezzali of the group 883, in addition to the drummer Michele Avella of Paolo Vallesi, Luisa Corna and Anonimo Italiano. It is a new national label. The songs are all written, set to music and arranged by myself with the support of my sound engineer, Angelo Coppola.
Valentino the little boy who fled the Secondigliano neighborhood in search of his dream: music. Joyful, serene, always in a good mood, he likes to share his happiness with his friends and relatives with calm and controlled carelessness. Each of its songs is the result of excellent work studied with patience, reflection and logic in order to propose the right strategy.
Valentino who makes his music a passion, a dedication and an overflowing communication, succeeded in opening the drawer of his dreams with the treble clef!