Yanni, with his new album, blends four voices with his signature instrumentals 

Shave and a Haircut

Yanni Voices
April 19, 7:30 p.m.
$26-$96
North Charleston Coliseum
5001 Coliseum Drive, North Charleston
(843) 529-5050
www.coliseumpac.com

Over a 25-year career, composer Yanni has proven he can write epic instrumental music that merges the worlds of classical, grand pop, and light jazz. With his new CD, Voices, however, Yanni ventured into uncharted territory by adding vocals to his music. According to Yanni, working with vocalists Chloe, Nathan Pacheco, Ender Thomas, and Leslie Mills was hardly challenging at all.

"The most difficult thing to do in instrumental music is to find the lead instrument," he says. "But this time, once you have great voices as the lead instruments, my job is easier. That's the bottom line."

Fans have been waiting years to hear new music from Yanni. His previous studio CD, Ethnicity, was released in 2003. Yanni has released 15 albums since coming on the scene in 1984. By the mid-1990s, following the back-to-back successes of Dare to Dream (1992), In My Time (1993), and Live at the Acropolis (1993), Yanni was firmly established as the leader of the so-called new age music movement.

Since then, new albums from Yanni have arrived about every three years, gaps that happened partly because of the ever-expanding touring schedule that came with his mushrooming popularity. But following Ethnicity and a subsequent tour, the new age composer stepped away from the public eye to plot his next musical move.

As it turned out, the decision to enter the realm of vocal music came about mainly because of a new alliance Yanni had forged with Ric Wake, a leading vocal producer who has worked with Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, and others.

"It was a very organic process. It was not forced," Yanni says. "I became really good friends with him, and you know, a few months went by, and we decided let's start working on music."

The process of finding singers, choosing material for Voices, and recording was not all that simple, though, and work stretched over a two-year period.

As the project began to take shape, Yanni and Wake arrived at a mix of new material with vocal versions of songs from Yanni's previous albums. It wasn't difficult to make vocals work. He knew vocals could add to his songs.

"I've known all along that my music is very vocal, because my music is based on melody," Yanni says. "The thing is not disjointed. It comes together effortlessly. And the blend between the vocals and the instrumentals gives us a rest from the voices and gives us a rest from the instruments."

There is already talk of solo albums for all four singers, and Yanni expects to work with them on at least another studio CD or two. But first comes a worldwide tour for Voices that will give the singers their first extensive test as performers on big stages.

One thing that will be different for fans will be Yanni's appearance itself. Known throughout his career for his flowing shoulder length black hair and mustache, Yanni has gone clean shaven and cut back his hair. He didn't consider the change in his look to be that big an issue when he did it.

"I like it like this," he says. "It's much simpler, easier. I don't really care. I'm sure some people may be disappointed, but it's just hair."

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