Claudio Chieffo, 15 years after his death the memory of those who sang of faith and beauty

Claudio Chieffo with John Paul II in the 1980s
Photo: www.claudiochieffo.com

“In Claudio’s songs there is an honesty, a cleanliness, a naive love that makes you think. We are profoundly different, not only for the certainties that he has and that I don’t have, but above all because in his songs he doesn’t hide his certainties.” this is how Giorgio Gaber, many years ago, defined Claudio Chieffo. In fact, Claudio Chieffo’s songs are not only sung in church or in Communion and Liberation meetings. Some are also liturgical but all touch on existential and “political” strings, that is to say they refer to the ultimate meaning of life, to the destiny that belongs to every man and to his responsibility in the face of the reality that he is called to live.

So 15 years after the death of the poet-songwriter Forlì22 covers of the repertoire (more than 100 songs in 45 years of career) were included in the album ‘Chieffo Charity Tribute’, edited by his son Benedetto: these are pieces reinterpreted by the greatest artists of the Italian and international music scene. There is Giacomo Larici; Davide Van DeSfroos; Luca Carboni; Lombroso; Enza Pagliara and Dario Muci; Giovanni Lindo Ferretti; Paolo Cevoli; Massimo Bubola; Gioele Dix; Mirna Kassis and Salah Namek (Syrians); Giua; Giorgio Conte and Alessandro Nidi; Giovanna Marini, who declaims ‘Morning Star’; Oscar winner Marketa Irglova; Roberta Finocchiaro; Svavar Knútur (Iceland); Ambrogio Sparagna and Gianni Aversano; Kreg Viesselman (USA); Chico Lobo (Brazil); Santoianni; Dario Cifo; Omar Pedini; Paolo Fresu.

Each presents with its style and musical imprint without ever distorting the truth and beauty of the original. Proceeds from the sale of the album are donated to charity (net of production costs) to the “Esharelife Charity Foundation” to support AVSI’s development cooperation and humanitarian aid projects in Kenya.

We ask him to explain how this project was born: “The spark dates back to January 2019 when, on the occasion of the exhibition in Milan of the exhibition ‘A tous je parle de toi – Voyager avec Claudio Chieffo’, created for the tenth anniversary of my father’s death, a friend suggested to me the idea of ​​a ‘charity album’ with his songs involving various artists. It immediately struck me as an exciting idea also because my father often gave concerts for charity. I spoke about it with the vice-president of ‘Charity Esharelife’ and I started looking for artists”.

How did your father combine faith and beauty in songs?

“My father had no intention of composing ‘religious’ songs: he was a songwriter and had a deep experience of the encounter with Christ and the Church: this could not fail to transpire from the songs. I’ll give you a trivial example: if a woman is in love, it shows, whatever she does. The same goes for my father. As for beauty, it is a gift. He worked a lot on the lyrics, on the lyrics (it shows in the drafts and rewrites of the songs on the pages of his diaries), but if he hadn’t had the gift, I think things would have been different ” .

What was the inspiration for your songs?

“All of his songs are born from the experience of a life lived fully as a man, as a husband and as a father, as a friend, as a teacher, as a companion , all born out of sharing the pain for the loss of a loved one or the joy of someone. My father wrote the famous song “He gave me the sky” when he fell in love with the one who was going to become his wife. Meetings with Don Francesco Ricci, with Don Giussani and with the great American painter William Congdon they marked him deeply. Congdon in particular told him, “Remember that if a song isn’t a window into the Mystery, it’s just noise. And so it was”.

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