The Italian Almanac

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Andrea Bocelli

Italian News - February 23

Italian pop princess Laura Pausini, who recently became the first Italian woman to win a Grammy, has now been awarded one of the country's top honours for achievements in the arts. Pausini, 31, is to be made a 'Commendatore' of the prestigious Order of Merit of the Italian Republic, according to a statement issued by the president's office.

The singer was feted by the Italian pop world earlier this month after she picked up this year's Grammy award for best Latin pop album. Pausini, who has a huge following in Latin America, has sold over 22 million records worldwide since exploding onto the Italian music scene by winning the country's top song contest at the age of 18.

President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi also announced 'Commendatore' honours for two other stars of Italian blues rocker Zucchero and pop star Eros Ramazzotti. Ciampi awarded the slightly higher 'Grand'Ufficiale' honour to the opera and pop singer Andrea Bocelli. Pausini, Zucchero, Ramazzotti and Boccelli are arguably the best-known names in Italian music throughout the world.

By coincidence, Bocelli, Pausini and Ramazzotti are scheduled to perform as special guests at Italy's Sanremo song festival next week. Organisers reacted happily to Ciampi's announcement. "This is great news. It crowns our idea of an evening dedicated to Italian music which has broken out of national borders and conquered the world."