In Kalamata, on the shores of the Mediterranean, Yanni was born in 1954 to Sotiri and Felitsa Chryssomallis.The second of three children, Yanni has an older brother and a younger sister.Sharing a deep-rooted love of music, the family spent much of their time playing and singing together.
Yanni's parents provided a typical Greek life for the young boy. He grew up fishing, swimming, and going to school like every other boy in his town, with one exception. Yanni was born to compose music. He began to play the piano at age six, but he refused formal piano lessons.As a child, Yanni heard music in his head and he simply wanted to hear it come out of the piano too, so he needed to learn how to play to make that happen. He felt a certain freedom with the keys that might have been crushed under the weight of structured learning.
Music was not Yanni's only talent.In 1969, at the age of 14, Yanni broke the Greek National swimming record for the men's 50-meter freestyle event. Although he could have pursued this skill, he chose to travel a different path; one which eventually led him to share his musical gift with the world.
His childhood in Greece and his love for his native country gave Yanni his inspiration to compose such songs as "Santorini," "Nostalgia," and "Acroyali."
1973-1976"The Second Beginning - United States"
In 1972, with the encouragement of his parents, Yanni left his homeland to attend the University of Minnesota. Between his studies, he played in local rock and roll bands and began to develop his personal musical style using both piano and electronic keyboards to create new sounds.
Despite a new culture, a new climate, and a new language, Yanni graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1976 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology.After graduation, he decided to give music 100% of his effort for one year. He needed to better understand the driving artistic forces that had been such a large part of his childhood years. It was during this year that he chose to make music his vocation.
1977-1984"Rock and Roll - The Chameleon Days"
Yanni played keyboards for Chameleon, a rock and roll band that became well known in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Spurred by their success, Chameleon began to tour regionally - across Minnesota, Wisconsin,
By now Yanni knew his future would be in music, and he used his experience with electronic keyboards to begin creating his own compositions. "Optimystique," his first solo album, was independently released in 1980.
1985-1990 "Yanni - On His Own"
Yanni single-mindedly continued to pursue his passion for creating music. He explored the worlds of electronic music, new sounds and instruments, and composition.This was a very productive and busy time for Yanni. He released 2 albums and worked on a third before moving to Hollywood, the film industry capital, where he recorded 4 film scores and released 3 more albums. He also re-released "Optimystique."
In 1990, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra accompanied Yanni in concert, adding a new dimension to his unique style and a prelude of things to come
Yanni was constantly experimenting and composing - giving his growing number of fans new music every year. The album "In Celebration of Life," was released in 1991, "Dare to Dream" in 1992, and "In My Time" in 1993.And, as if that wasn't enough to keep him busy, Yanni went on tour each of these three years. He received Grammy nominations for "Dare to Dream" and "In My Time" in which the collection of serene piano-focused pieces went on to sell more than a million copies. Each year brought a more extensive tour, larger venues, and greater numbers of fans. Yanni hand-picked the band members who would accompany him on his tours, and eventually added an entire symphony orchestra.
1993-1995"Full Circle - Yanni Live at the Acropolis"
Yanni toured internationally for the first time, presenting his music live in some world famous venues such as the Toji Temple in Kyoto, Japan, Royal Albert Hall in London, and at the Acropolis in his homeland of Greece.
Yanni, Live at the Acropolis was filmed on September 23, 1993 at the 2000 year old Herod Atticus Theater in Athens and marked a triumphant return to his homeland.The concert was subsequently broadcast in the United States on PBS, where Yanni has since become one of the top all-time fundraisers, and around the world, where it was seen in 65 countries by half a billion viewers.The album has sold more than 7 million copies, while the video has sold 1 million copies, making it one of the best-selling videos of all time.Yanni has continued to provide a great deal of support for PBS and has also appeared on several PBS Pledge Specials such as A Decade of Excellence, which included segments from Yanni Live at the Acropolis,Yanni Live at Royal Albert Hall and Tribute videos.
1996-1998"A Global Journey - Tribute World Tour"
Yanni pursued the biggest challenge of his career - to become the first western artist to perform at both the Taj Mahal in India and the Forbidden City in China.Both venues presented unique and difficult obstacles, but once again, Yanni's persistence and patience paid off through the highly successful concerts. The "Tribute" album was released in the Fall of 1997, and much of the music was written with these two locations in mind. Yanni's third long format music video, also titled Tribute, was filmed during these two momentous events.The result was an outstanding combination of extraordinary musicians, inspiring sights, and an unchallenged movement of world peace and harmony, all brought together by a single artist's vision. The special was seen by a collective television audience of some 250 million people.In conjunction with his performance Yanni donated the proceeds from the show to help preserve the Taj Mahal.
In tandem with the release of "Tribute," Yanni embarked on his record-breaking 9-month, 100+ city tour.Beginning in Mexico City, Yanni became the first foreign artist to sell out five consecutive shows at the Auditorio Nacionale.The momentum continued from there as Yanni moved on to play 10 consecutive sold out shows at Radio City Music Hall in New York; the first time this had happened since 1993.The "Tribute" tour was the top selling tour during the first half of 1998, and was ranked #2 for the entire year.
1998-2000"If I Could Tell You"
His first studio album in 7 years, "If I Could Tell You," followed in 2000 after a two year sabbatical.It was a deeply personal and introspective work that stripped away some of the grandiose elements found on his previous albums.The change in direction was no less inspiring, but it did reflect changes in his personal life as well as a move to the East coast and a glimpse into Yanni's heart.
In February, 2003, Yanni released Ethnicity, his 13th album.The album signaled another creative shift in direction and proved a harbinger of things to come.Yanni once again explored the powerful symphonic sounds that marked some of his earlier works but also incorporated more exotic textures.The album featured an array of different instruments, from an Australian didgeridoo, a Celtic violin, and an Armenian duduk to an Indian tabla, as well as a variety of human voices in the form of solo arias, group chants and even lyrics, a rare departure for the instrumentalist.The same year also saw the publication of his Miramax Books autobiography, "Yanni in Words," a New York Times best seller.It's a reflective look at the challenges, lessons, dreams and obstacles in Yanni's life.
Soon after the release of his book, Yanni undertook an unprecedented North American Tour in November, 2004.The tour kicked off at the Mandalay Bay Hotel & Resort in Las Vegas, NV.The commanding performance was recorded and filmed for what was to be Yanni's first live CD since Tribute, 2006'sYanni Live! The Concert Event.The mammoth tour included nearly 150 shows, with total attendance of more than 1 million fans, making it, according to Billboard magazine, among the largest grossing for three years running.
After a reflectve time, Yanni experimented with another direction. Yanni explains, "I will always do instrumental music, but now I'm just trying to expand my horizons and open the doors to some incredible talent that can give voice and lyrics to my work."
The multi-Grammy nominated performer is talking about Yanni-Wake Entertainment, his newly formed venture with fellow Grammy and Oscar winning producer/songwriter, Ric Wake.This exciting enterprise will not only continue to create superb music, but it will also develop talented new artists, compose music for films and be involved in movie and television production. Yanni Wake Entertainment has signed Nathan Pacheco, Chloe, Ender Thomas and Leslie Mills.
Yanni Voces reached #1 on the Mexican Pop Charts and #2 on the over all Mexican Music Charts.A
recent DVD release of Yanni Voices: Live in Concert reached Amazon's number one best seller list within the first week of sales and was a fundraising success for PBS.
On his new direction, Yanni says, "I'm looking for the next stage of my evolution.Having dedicated so many years to this art, I feel an obligation to maintain it, or at least keep developing myself.There are no rules.It's so exciting.And we're going to surprise people.Just watch.To make things happen in life, you have to have faith and passion.Right now is the best time of my life.
In his long and remarkable career, Yanni has proven to have been blessed with both faith and passion in abundance.
There are a lot of exciting things ahead for Yanni. Check back to www.Yanni.com for tour and new music updates. There are plans in the works for international (including the USA) appearances in 2010 and 2011 as well as new compositions from Yanni.