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      Birthday: Nov 14, 1954

      Birthplace: Acroyali, Kalamata, Greece

      Yanni was a Greek musician who followed a highly unusual, idiosyncratic path to fame and fortune. He never had a hit single, he never enjoyed radio play, and his music, a strange blend of jazz, classical, soft rock, and world music, was often the butt of easy jokes. However, Yanni sold over 25 million albums worldwide, amassed 40 platinum and gold records, and executed epic once in a lifetime concerts at some of the most recognizable locations in the world. Born Yiannis Chryssomallis on November 14, 1954 in Kalamata, Greece, Yanni was a prodigy from a young age. He began playing piano at the age of 6, and with the encouragement of his parents, he eschewed formal musical training in favor of learning at his own pace and in his own way, to this day, Yanni only uses the "musical shorthand" he developed as a child. In November of 1972, Yanni left Greece in order to study psychology at the University of Minnesota. He supported himself by washing dishes at the local student union, and eventually taught himself how to read English. Still, after graduating with a B.A. in psychology in 1976, Yanni was unsure of his future, so he decided that he would devote himself solely to writing and performing music for the next year. When the year was up, it was apparent that he was the happiest he'd ever been, and decided to pursue music full-time as a career. In 1977, he joined Chameleon, a Minneapolis-based rock band. Chameleon's founding member, drummer Charlie Adams, would become Yanni's closest musical collaborator for much of his career. Yanni toured with Chameleon until 1984, when he decided to move to Los Angeles to pursue a career in movie soundtracks. That same year, his solo debut album, "Optimystique" (1984), was released by Atlantic Records. For the rest of the decade, Yanni would release his music through the label Private Music; they put out his next three records: "Keys to Imagination" (1986), "Out of Silence" (1987), and "Chameleon Days" (1988). In 1988, Yanni went on tour with an ensemble including pianist/singer John Tesh and his old drummer Charlie Adams, which saw the group performing with orchestras around the country. One such performance, alongside the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, received a rave review from the Dallas Times Herald, providing Yanni with his first major recognition just as contemporary instrumental music was beginning to capture the public imagination. Around this time, Yanni began dating actress Linda Evans; the pair were photographed together for the November 1990 issue People magazine, and appeared together on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" (ABC, 1986-2011), raising Yanni's profile further. His next studio album, "Dare to Dream" (1992), was nominated for several Grammys and included the hit single "Aria," which was featured in a popular British Airways commercial. Yanni followed that up with another Grammy-nominated album, "In My Time" (1993). However, Yanni's breakthrough would come with the release of "Live at the Acropolis" (1994). Recorded during a live performance in September of 1993 at the 2,000 year-old Herodes Atticus Theater at the Acropolis of Athens, Yanni invested $2 million of his own money in the production, taking a huge gamble to bring his music to a wider audience. The gamble payed off in dividends: "Live at the Acropolis" was viewed on PBS by half a billion people across 65 countries, and sold more than seven million copies worldwide, making it the second best-selling music concert video of all time, after "Michael Jackson's Thriller" (1983). Yanni followed up this huge success by going even bigger: he staged concerts at the Taj Mahal in India, as well as the Forbidden City in Beijing, which formed the live album and concert film "Tribute" (1997). However, just as he was riding high on his newfound worldwide success, Yanni found himself burned out. Setting up the Taj Mahal and Forbidden City shows had been demanding and stressful, his 1998 world tour was exhausting, and his relationship with Linda Evans came to an end after nine years together. Yanni spent the next few years in seclusion, giving no concerts and no interviews. He lived with his parents for three months before embarking on a worldwide vacation. In 2000, Yanni returned with "If I Could Tell You" (2000), his first studio album in seven years, and his highest-charting album ever. 2003 saw the release of his next studio album "Ethnicity" (2003), as well as his autobiography, "Yanni In Words" (2003). Yanni's next album, "Yanni Voices" (2009), broke new ground for the artist by featuring vocalists for the first time. After giving us "Mexicanismo" (2010), a live tribute to Mexican folk music, Yanni released "Truth of Touch" (2011), his first studio album in eight years. On February 9, 2013, Yanni returned to China, performing at the CCTV Spring Gala with zither player Chang Jing. He next collaborated with operatic tenor Plácido Domingo on the album "Inspirato" (2014). Proving that he still had some showmanship and love of spectacle in him, Yanni performed at the Egyptian pyramids and Great Sphinx of Giza on October 30 and 31 of 2015. The following year, Yanni released his eighteenth studio album, "Sensuous Chill" (2016), which was created largely with vintage synthesizers and drum machines, marking a return to basics.



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