Jazz singer David Marino reflects on third-place La Voix win
In the 21st century, when the youth of today turn to electronic music for audible entertainment, it has become absurd to believe any person under the age of 50 can enjoy the tenderness of jazz music. Yet, for David Marino—last year’s third-place winner of French talent competition La Voix—singing the jazz standards of the early 20th century has become second nature.
As his father pressed play on “They Can’t Take That Away From Me,” a 1937 George and Ira Gershwin song featuring Frank Sinatra, for his eight-year-old son in 2006, he incidentally pressed play on Marino’s blossoming passion for jazz. About a year earlier, Marino’s mother, Angela Vitulano, had realized her son would fall in love with jazz. “He wanted to buy a fedora at the age of seven,” she said. This is a style of hat worn by many jazz singers, notably Frank Sinatra.
“I feel the music in my bones,” said Marino, a Rivière-des-Prairies native. “It’s just a connection I have to the music; it’s hard to explain.” This connection is something John Gilbert, who has been Marino’s voice coach since 2011, also felt as he helped Marino widen his musical prowess.
It all started with Frank Sinatra and Michael Bublé, without whom Marino said he would never have been encouraged to explore other jazz artists and diversify his tastes. “I’d pick Sammy Davis Jr.,” Marino said when asked who he would like to sit down and have a chat with. “He would bring my performance abilities to the next level.”
“Music is not only about singing the songs you like,” Marino added, “but also making sure the audience will enjoy whatever you sing.” This is something he quickly understood through coaching sessions with Gilbert. Marino performs with the intelligence and wit of an experienced jazz singer, and excels in charming his audience with fancy suits and melodious tunes.
Now 19, the young singer has devoted a lot of time and effort to his career. As the old saying goes, “practice makes perfect,” and Marino couldn’t agree more. When asked about his learning process, Marino said there is no limit to how often he can rehearse a song. “First, you learn the song and the melody, which could take 30 minutes depending on how long the song is,” he said. “Then, I repeat it to find different ways of singing each note.”
For Marino, analyzing the lyrics of a song is also a crucial part of his interpretation, as it allows him to express the proper emotions and understand the message behind the song. “Singing a lyric is harder than singing the melody,” he said.
Marino’s family played an important role in the young crooner’s career. In fact, his parents introduced him to the style of music he now cherishes and encouraged him to take singing lessons. Regardless of the challenges, his family continues to encourage him to pursue a career in music. “We love supporting and just love to listen to him,” said Vitulano with a twinkle in her eyes.
“My parents were the ones who encouraged me to do the show,” Marino said about participating on La Voix, Quebec’s adaptation of The Voice. Although coming in third place didn’t change his life, it allowed Marino to showcase his talent to a large Quebec audience. “It is an amazing learning experience,” he said.
Prior to his success on La Voix, Marino juggled variety shows, local competitions and benefit concerts. “David uses his talent to help others,” his mother said. “For example, he’s using his concerts to raise money for mental health,” a cause close to the young artist’s heart.
Marino described the show as a gathering of people doing what they love most, where spirits are high and interactions are positive. “La Voix was the most exciting project I have completed to this day,” Marino said, but he remains hopeful that more stimulating projects will arise in the near future.
Despite the importance of the competition, Marino remained grounded and always remembered his roots. “I love to sing, because I love to perform,” he said. “I learned what being ‘popular’ means in the music industry.” Although it can be overwhelming to have people approach him, Marino reminds himself that music is the reason he began singing.
Inspired by his coach on La Voix, Pierre Lapointe, Marino is adamant that music is not all about the fame. Even though the show gives contestants connections and exposure, La Voix remains a difficult adventure that requires a lot of hard work and devotion, he insisted. “If an artist entering La Voix thinks the show will give them a career, they are completely wrong,” Marino said.
On April 14, Marino will be performing at the Salle Gesù. Accompanying him on stage will be top-notch jazz musicians under the musical direction of John Gilbert and special guest Shy Shy Schullie, another former contestant on La Voix.