Youri Menna (born in Vomero, area of Naples) is an Italian singer, guitarist and songwriter. He is supposed to be one of the most famous “buskers” (street performer) in the world with over 5 million people attending his concerts and over 1 million views on YouTube in the past seven years.
Youri has created his unusual worldwide celebrity status by constantly performing live in Paris (an average of 200 concerts a year) in extraordinary places such as Sacré Coeur, Saint Michel, Notre Dame, the Champ de Mars, Opéra Garnier and in the Parisian Metro system.
The hundreds of thousands of people attending his shows every year have been sharing their videos, photos and written voice on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Their support has created a domino effect leading his talent to be appreciated by his ever-growing audience.
He lives in Paris, where he performs most of the time. He also performed in streets and clubs of Paris, Berlin (Mauerpark), New York, Dublin (Grafton St.), Los Angeles, Melbourne, Sydney, Kuala Lumpur, Barcelona, Tbilisi, Mexico City, London, Granada and countless others.
Youri is an independent artist and has already sold 32000 albums with original songs and popular cover versions to more than 80 countries around the world in 6 years. He is known as a very talented singer, charismatic entertainer and a multilingual songwriter with a strong dedication to his always-growing fan base. It’s very important for him to have interaction with everyone during concerts and through social media networks.
He just finished his first full-length solo album in both English and Italian. These songs are already available on iTunes. His musical direction has always been the British band ‘Queen’ and most of all, their lead singer Freddy Mercury to whom he dedicated the song “The Music Died With You”.
His dream in his own words is: “Give a huge live stadium concert for all of the hundreds of thousands people I’ve already performed for ”.
Youri lost his father at the young age of 11. His mother raised him, his older brother and sister.
Youri’s biggest passion in life has always been playing soccer (‘Calcio’ in Italian). From the age of 2, a soccer ball has constantly accompanied him, playing with friends in the streets of Naples as thousands of his fellow citizens do each day.
Youri’s mother decided to harness his growing talent and enrolled him in a team. His young career started well but the goal of getting into a major club was not possible, even though his talent had been recognized unanimously. This disappointment put Youri in a very existential sadness, which, years later resulted in expressing himself through singing, playing guitar and writing songs.
At the age of seven, Youri started to listen to music. His brother had many cassettes ranging from James Taylor, Tracy Chapman, Pink Floyd and popular 70’s and 80’s music. The one band got his attention more than any other was the mighty: ‘Queen’.
Youri constantly listened to that cassette everyday. He was completely fascinated by the voice of this unknown singer and the amazing melodies that accompanied it. Some of his favorites included ‘Radio gaga’, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, ‘It’s a hard life’, ‘Innuendo’ and many others. Never seeing the actual face of Freddy Mercury, Youri was left to his own imagination of what this powerful voice looked like.
On the 24th of November in 1991, the tragic news of Freddy Mercury’s death was announced on TV. It was the first time he saw the face of the singer who had been taking his breath away and painting pictures of the incredible music that filled his head and bedroom.
Youri’s biggest musical journey began: listening, singing and performing the songs of ‘Queen’ whenever he could.
At the age of 16, Youri grabbed his brother’s guitar for the first time. He had been listening to him, singing and playing since his childhood, but never really showed a real interest in learning to play a musical instrument before. That decision was, in his words ”one of those things that happens for an unknown reason, which you can’t give any reasonable explanation to, a flash of light in the darkness.” His brother explained the basic chords, notes and technique of the instrument. Youri excelled quickly and started to learn songs on the guitar (commonly called as learning music by ear).
Those were the first steps of Youri, as a self-taught person. They marked the birth of a magical bond between him and his guitar.
At the age of 18, Youri received a foreign language degree and became much more comfortable singing and playing guitar at the same time. His first lyrics encompassed the will it took to leave Italy, his political differences with the current government and the lack of educational and cultural issues that never seem to get resolved.
‘THE STREET’: LEIT MOTIV OF HIS LIFE
At the age of 21, two years after studying French and Arabic at the University of Naples, Youri decides to leave his home in Naples Italy and move to Paris France. Ever since he visited that city in 2003 he had become fascinated with it right from the moment he arrived. He knew it would make him happier and help him reach the professional goals he had always longed for. He wanted to understand the nature of his existential dissatisfaction, to feed his curiosity about people, traditions and new lifestyles and to find his purpose in this ever-changing world.
When he arrived in Paris, he began working in an Italian restaurant in the Saint Michel area. He was able to practice the French language and adapt to the Parisian life with his new job. Soon, the hard work, the charged rhythms, the lack of free time and the awareness of being marginalized from the outside life, pushes Youri to look for a way to feel more like being part of the city. Walking back home, Youri regularly passes by the quarter of Beaubourg, known by locals as a place where all artists perform. He begins to spend all his breaks watching jugglers, singers, clowns and painters, taking in an atmosphere that is slowly enthralling him. One day, he decides to take his Yamaha guitar with him to play and sing in the middle of the Modern Art Museum Square. Not being aware of the power of his voice and of the effect that it could have on others, Youri finds himself surprised when people approach, listen and cheer at the end of every song. That incredible feeling of being observed and appreciated, of seeing so many different people around him, motivates him to sing more and more. During his performance, people start to throw coins in his guitar case. Youri, once again surprised by this reaction, asks some of them: “Why do you give me money? I’m just here to have fun” the passers by respond “because what you do is incredibly nice, Sir. Please, keep the money, you deserve it!“ Youri smiles and still astonished, keeps singing for the rest of the afternoon. This performance was the first of a daily series of concerts. Youri was performing at the same place, keeping people around him for more than three hours. Every time he was obliged to leave in order not to be late for his evening shift at the restaurant. Everyday it was the same response from his growing crowds “Please, one more song, the last one”.
MUSIC BECOMES HIS EVERYTHING
Youri doesn’t renew his six months contract as a waiter and dedicates all his time to his new adventure – music.
He finds various live-music bars in the area of Saint-Michel and manages to get weekly gigs, which allows him to improve his repertoire as well as practice his English.
On the 21st of June 2006, Youri buys his first portable amplifier to perform in the streets of Paris on the occasion of “Fête de la musique”, an annual musical event for every kind of performer, taking place in the best Parisian squares and sidewalks. With an amplifier, Youri is able to gather a couple of hundreds people around him that day and the reaction from the crowd encourages him to keep on pursuing his dream.
That day marks the official beginning of his unique and special life: being a full-time “busker”, making a great living out of his performances and spreading his songs and his message of joy to a growing international audience.
BUSKING LIFE AND TRAVELS
Youri performs almost daily in July 2006 and that air of freedom and success strongly exhorts him to travel with his guitar and amplifier in order to discover these new world’s possibilities.
Between 2006 and 2014, Youri travels and performs in Dublin, Barcelona, Istanbul, London, Stockholm, Amsterdam, Marseille, Montpelier, Nice, Basel, Venice, Florence, Rome, Naples, Palermo, Catania, Berlin, Düsseldorf, Poznan, Gdansk, Kiev, Athens, Valencia, Alicante, Granada, Tbilisi, Batumi, El Cairo, Johannesburg, Durban, Marrakech, Saint Martin Island, Tenerife, New York, Montreal, Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas, Mexico City, Queretaro, Sydney, Melbourne, Tunis, Kuala Lumpur, Phuket and many others smaller cities. During those travels, a lot of incredible things happened to him. In a chronological order, Youri got recognized and cheered in the streets of Barcelona, Marseille, Berlin, Amsterdam, Alicante, Poznan, Naples, Dublin, Florence etc. by people saying in general: “Hey, I saw your performance in Paris, that was so unforgettable, I can’t believe I’ve just met you!” But Youri got really astonished and remained almost speechless when he was crossing a street at the exit of Central Park in New York City and a man stopped him and started off by saying: “Hey, I saw you in Paris, performing at Sacré Coeur. What a great moment!” – and Youri mumbled: “Really? Wow! Where are you from?“ and the man answered: “ I’m from Belgium.” He smiled at this man with the will of thanking him, the man left and in this moment, Youri lifted his head to the sky and got struck by light. He got aware of the importance of those concerts in Paris, of the potential echoes that those performances could emanate and that the world was a much smaller place than we often imagine.
Youri performs almost daily between April and October at the Opéra Garnier square (besides Sacré Coeur, Notre Dame and Saint Michel area) where he gathers between 500 and 1000 people each day. More and more people are appreciating his songs and cover songs, purchasing his CD’s and supporting his amazing talent.
He is simultaneously often traveling to Berlin, working with Stage Entertainment and private event clubs of the German capital, where he realized his first big showcase in the Wintergarten Varietié Berlin in March 2014 with a sold out 500 seats theatre.
Before he just finished a studio recording of his new album ‘Melodies from a Busker’ with all original tracks including fan favorites (‘Mother’, ‘Elegance’, ‘My nothing was all for you’, ‘Legal criminals’, ‘I still remember you’ etc.) He is talking with major record labels for mass distribution of his current CD.
Youri is now selling his music here on his website and on iTunes. As of today his music is being purchased in France, Germany, the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, China and all over the globe.
Currently, Youri is promoting his first big showcase in Paris, which will take place on September 22, 2015, in the famous Réservoir Club – get your tickets now: https://www.weezevent.com/youri-menna