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Yanni is a pianist and composer hailing from Kalamata, Greece who was born on November 14th, 1954. Since debuting in 1980, he has released seventeen studio albums and has become one of the most respected classical crossover artists of his generation.
Born Giánnis Chrysomállis, Yanni displayed his talent for playing the piano at the tender age of six. In a way that many a pushy parent could learn from, Yanni's folks encouraged his passion without signing him up for lessons, leading the young Yanni to discover his own style of playing, learning and composition. When Yanni was 18 he moved from his native Kalamata to the United States to study at the Univeristy of Minnesota, but decided after graduating in 1976 to devote his life to music instead of his degree in psychology. He joined the band Chameleon in 1977, but continued to work on his solo pieces and artistic endeavours outside of the band, like providing music for choreographers working for the Minneapolis Dance Theatre.
He would eventually record his first album in 1980, but “Optimystique” wouldn't be released until 1984, after Yanni signed a record deal with Atlantic Records. By 1987, shortly after the release of his second album “Keys To Imagination”, he formed a band and started taking his compositions on the road, getting national recognition for a performance he did in 1988 backed with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. Over the next three years his public profile grew dramatically thanks to a relationship with the actress Linda Evans, a slot on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 1990, and Grammy award nominations for his 1992 album “Dare To Dream” and his 1993 effort “In My Time”. This set Yanni up perfectly for his breakthrough effort, September 1993's live album “Live At The Acropolis”.
At a $2 million personal expense, Yanni booked, promoted, performed and recorded a concert at the 2000 year old Herodes Atticus Theatre at the Acropolis of Athens, releasing the resulting record in 1994. It was an astonishing success, the television broadcast of the concert alone going out to an audience of half a billion people, before the VHS tape of the show sold over 7 million copies the world over. Ever since then, Yanni has remained a revered figure in the world of classical crossover music, and in the world of New Age music (even though it's a label that he's dismissed). His concerts draw hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world, and his records continue to sell well, with two of his records peaking at number 20 on the Billboard 200. For showing just what heights a genuine composer can scale in this day and age, Yanni comes highly recommended.