The Italian Almanac

Laura Pausini

Italian Music - September 12

The princess of Italian pop, Laura Pausini, is one of the musical superstars featuring on an album of duets with late soul legend Ray Charles. Pausini's voice mingles with Charles' on a ballad called Surrender to Love, the first track on Genius & Friends. The LP comes out later this month to commemorate what would have been the 75th birthday of the blind pianist and singer who helped shaped the sound of rhythm and blues.

Pausini joins greats likes Gladys Knight, George Michael and Diana Ross on the album, produced posthumously using recordings Charles made in 1998. The singer created this material with the intention of cutting an album of duets with some of his favourite contemporary artists. It was among his last requests before he died in June 2004 that the project be completed and released.

Along with Eros Ramazzotti, Pausini is perhaps Italy's only truly world class pop star. Although relatively unknown in Britain and the US, her fine voice and excellent song-writing skills have made her hugely popular in Europe and South America. Indeed, the 31-year-old has sold over 22 million records worldwide.

The album comes out in Italy on September 16, exactly a week before the anniversary of the iconic figure's birth.