Gina attended school from the age of 2 years, from 4.5 years music was to be her life, although at that age and on pianoforte, maybe impossible to foresee the life that was indeed to lie ahead of this young girl. Always popular at school with teachers, her versatility musically was to astound her tutors throughout her schooling, holding a grade 8 piano at 12 years of age. Mum and Dad always wanted Gina to play the Accordion, so there was a conspiracy throughout the family, many of which were Accordionists themselves to introduce her to the instrument. Many attempts were made, but none worked until one day Gina herself asked for an Accordion, 3 hours later she was strapped into a Settimio Soprani, and an accordion was to be her trademark throughout her professional career.
Her determination to be the Accordionist first, and then the Artiste. The success of both areas of her music was in fact realised, NAO Area Championship, National Championships, International Championships, BAA Commonwealth Titles, UK Titles, Duet Titles were achieved But now it was time for Show Business, and what a career this young lady has had. She has travelled throughout the World, has appeared in every country, singing in 6 languages, her performance always with the accordion which has given her a life full of Music. Her appearances too numerous to mention, her musicians, have been the greatest and in themselves commanded their own audiences. Together with Norman her husband have earned titles, ie Television and Stage Awards. Top Rank entertainment award 6 years on the run. By her manner of promotion of the Accordion through the years by performance she was awarded The Golden Master in recognition of her constant involvement in the instrument. The support party for Gina was, a representative from every manufacturer, Mo Bio Boccosi, Mme Volpi. Mo Gervasio Marcosignori presented the introduction to the presentation as he has observed over the years Gina’s constant search for a future for the Accordion, and he once told Gina, never teach the accordion, just keep doing what you have always done to promote the Accordion, but the calling proved to be too strong for Gina. The presentation from Mme Volpi earlier in the day, was a specially commissioned first copy of an ancient map of La Marche and the title Mme to be appended to Gina Brannelli.
Ginas professional career began in Manchester as part of The Mario 4, at the nightspot La Bussola, the group image was sophisticated and mainly Italian Music. Gina stayed for a year, and moved on to Blackpool, whilst based in Manchester, she had appeared in London, on television and had enjoyed the
experience of a residency.
In Blackpool a contract at the top nightspot, at that time a one year contract was offered, a new group formed which included brother John on vocals, this became a very popular nightspot, and many musical decisions based on the clientele was agreed, but a recording studio owned by Gina and John required full time attention, and John took control of that business back in Manchester.
Norman was then added to the group, Gina and Norman met when Gina had written parts for his Harmony Trio, who was working in South Africa at the time. But one meeting is all it took for Norman to decide Blackpool was going to be a better option, there was an immediate attraction to both Gina and the music the group was playing, he wanted so much to sing solo, and at that time to take the place of John, a local Blackpool resident with a great voice. The new group was called Gina and the Mario Three, and later
The mode of the group had changed, the necessity for all styles of music was quickly added, now the group become an international foursome that received great recognition, and went on to appear at the top nightspot in Blackpool for some 6 or so years. Now named Gina and Romany Rye, following the introduction of a different style of music and the completion of a musical Romany Rye, written by Gina
Immediately they were offered the Queen Elizabeth 11 contract, following their Television appearance in the Television and Stage Awards. John, Gina’s Brother joined Norman and Gina as part of the QE2 group.
The group were always popular on board, adding more musical facets as they travelled around the world. Now playing South American, Mexican, Carribean and American style music, for the mainly American passengers. Contracts were offered one after the other, and made it difficult to change But there is always a time to go, particularly when family health was the issue, Gina’s mother was very poorly, and there was no difficulty in making the decision to leave on such grounds. Norman and Gina then married and worked for Marriot Hotels, Top Rank Organisation, Grosvenor Hotel Group, and Jarvis Hotels. They took on a residency at the Lemon Tree Casino and Nightclub, then opened the Sandcastle and continued to play at the exclusive night spot for over a year
Following an introduction to accordion sales in Manchester, it was now time to open her own Accordion Business, and an Academy of Music, and also start to promote the accordion generally by organising Festivals, and events, and later an accordion club.
The teaching Academy was where she could encompass her love of music and pass her knowledge and experience on to the young. When you speak to her, this is her love, her children are her Angels, they are immediately enthused by her personality, that shines through and she leads them into maturity with the confidence and knowledge of a professional. She says, I do not just teach an Accordion or Piano, I make the musician shine, that is my commitment. Their music is my music, I never force a style I let it develop naturally, to let a child love their music is essential. There are not enough places for Accordionists at
Classical supremacy, but commercial development leads to popularity for both the student and the Accordion ultimately. Teaching in mainstream schools and in the Local Private establishments has been great.
Since leaving Cunard Gina has been back on board for several trips, but with businesses it is very difficult to be away.
DEREK BALL, Publicist and Friend.