Though he came to represent the music scene that came out of Catania in the 1980s and '90s, Mario Venuti was born in Siracusa (on October 28, 1963) and lived in various other places in Sicily before his family finally settled down in the city under Mt. Etna. He grew up listening to the Beatles and studying piano and guitar, and in 1984 he joined the group Denovo, right when a new kind of rock music was beginning to spread across Italy (characterized by artists like Ligabue and Vasco Rossi). Denovo — for whom Venuti played guitar and sang — released five albums before breaking up in 1990, and the young musician used this opportunity to travel to Brazil, an experience that greatly inspired his later work. In 1994 his first solo album, Un Po' di Febbre, which combined his Mediterranean upbringing with his British pop and Brazilian bossa nova influences, was released, followed by 1996's Microclima.
That same year Venuti also collaborated with former manager Francesco Virlinzi's new prodigy, a fellow Catanian named Carmen Consoli, co-writing her debut single, "Amore di Plastica," off her debut album, Due Parole. Consoli returned the favor by appearing on the duet "Mai Come Ieri," the title cut off his 1998 record, and a song that brought Venuti into the spotlight. After the death of Virlinzi in 2001, the Sicilian moved to Musica & Suoni, an independent label distributed by Universal, for the release of 2003's Grandimprese, a record whose singles "Veramente" and "Crudele" brought him more national attention (the latter won two first-place awards at the annual San Remo Festival). In the following years, Venuti kept busy by writing for other artists, appearing in the Taormina, Sicily, production of the musical Datemi Tre Caravelle, about the life of Christopher Columbus, and beginning work on his fifth solo record, Magneti, which came out in 2006. ~ Marisa Brown