FRANCO GANDULLO - WHAT MAKES US THE SAME IS THAT WE'RE ALL DIFFERENT
music is his passion: because music clears and resolves the conflicts in the mind
equality factor: unity at its best
based in: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Gospel music is easily identifiable thanks to the energy, passion, honesty, spirituality, and emotion that a singer or performer brings to the style. It is impossible that the one who sings or listens to Gospel doesn't get emotionally involved, that is the interest of the Gospel, achieve the emotion.
We can say that the energy and tradition of a gospel choir are not similar to the talent of perhaps a band of any other musical genre, and this is not because it is undeserving, much less because it is incapable of differentiating styles, but simply because the rules within a gospel choir are vocally strict. One can learn to play the guitar or drums at any time in one's life, but vocal talent, while it can be formed, is a quality that not all musicians possess, no matter how much they wish to.
Franco is Artistic Director of the Argentina Gospel Choir and Director of Gospel Argentina.
Franco Gandullo defines Gospel music as music born in the African American church. He says that its sound is very particular and identifiable, that its lyrics are religious and obviously sung in English, something very important since the language preserves the purity of the music. But how did that child born in the city of Cordoba, Argentina, come to create the most important Gospel choir in his country?
From his childhood he knew that his passion was to produce, generate, take charge and assume the importance that it generates to have responsibilities, he spent the day in the garage of his parent's house idealizing and thinking about how to mount a scene with the objects that at that time he had within his reach, turned the sheets into curtains, the chairs into columns, the cardboard into ceilings. Without putting a label on it at that time, the vocation of the producer was already part of his life. Little by little, that role he felt responsible for, became a reality. He began to join in the events at his school, and at his neighbourhood church, but it was still fun for him.
It was always clear to him that art was what he wanted, and he would bet everything on fulfilling that dream.
As surely as in many parts of the world, during a time in Argentina, to finish school and not follow a university career as a lawyer, or medicine, among other professions of high educational rank, was a pretext to be conditioned and pointed at, however, Franco was always clear that art was what he wanted, and he would bet everything to fulfil that dream.
Until then, his only connection with gospel music came from a great admiration for African-American singers, and the memory of some movies where there was a choir, qualities that, just out of curiosity, led him to attend the second visit to Argentina of the famous Harlem Gospel Choir in 2003. Just a few weeks later, the church in his neighbourhood in the city of Cordoba invites him to see a concert where he meets Gerardo Flores - current musical director and vocalist of the Argentina Gospel Choir - who at that time sang in a choir that although it was not gospel, his songs belonged to all genres. At that very moment, his head producer clicked and began to match Gerardo's talent with the information he had archived all his life and the concert experience he had seen a few weeks earlier. From that moment on and without planning it, he had already put together his first musical production.
I never punctually said, "I want to have a gospel choir in Argentina".
Although his idea was never punctually "I want to have a gospel choir in Argentina", two months later, from his meeting with Gerardo, Franco had set up a choir of twenty people, who without knowing it, (since the Internet was not what it is now) would become the first gospel choir in the country, making its debut in December 2003 in a central square of the city. As a result of the great repercussion of the debut of the choir, the most important shopping centre in the city, the contract was for them to perform throughout the month of December on Christmas Eve, a contract that was extended for the following ten consecutive years. That was Franco Gandullo's university degree.
In 2007 he bet all his chips and moved to Buenos Aires, to achieve his goal.
From that moment on, when they realized that they were serious about it, Franco and Gerardo began to shape the project by deciding from the beginning to make a report that would point directly to gospel music in English, thus transforming it into the "Cordoba Gospel Choir". They were experimenting with different formats, seeking to stabilize themselves in the point where they wanted to go, but at the same time, it was a project that was just beginning, and contrary to what perhaps one is used to form a choir, they decided to reduce the team to only 12 singers, as this would make it easier for them to logistically present themselves in all the shows in which they were hired, however, Franco's ambition and passion to make this project bigger, made him play a very important card by accepting that he could also lose the game. In 2007 he risked everything and moved to Buenos Aires, in order to create a massive chorus, knowing that the tours were going to end and that he would possibly have more losses than gains, however, all those qualities that make Franco an empowered person, faced all, achieving today to be at the head of a chorus of 180 people.
That same year he made "Gospel! La Experiencia", together with the School of Blues of the Collegium Musicum of Buenos Aires, a workshop with unique characteristics in Latin America.
Franco tells us that when he calls for auditions, most of the people who come to audition are women, in fact, within the Argentina Gospel Choir, approximately 75% are female singers, which relates directly as a burden within the social context of the country, something that also happens in some parts of the world.
Even though Gospel is catalogued as a Christian music genre, as the decades went by, Gospel music was breaking new ground, and breaking several paradigms, accepting and reaching cultures all over the world. He cites the example of Witney Houston, who musically began to develop her music within a church, accompanying her mother - who was then a choir director - to all her rehearsals, and it highlights that although she later made pop music, she brought to pop what she had, what had marked her, with what she connected spiritually. The song "I Love the Lord" is a faithful example.
Franco says that this level of impact between the Gospel of before and the Gospel of now (far from entering in a religious theme), has to do with the need of other people to live this music that does so well, that can be sung by whoever wants to do it, without a religious load, and much less social, and he considers that this generational impact is applicable to all the artistic concepts in all the formats that can exist. That is one of the main pillars of the Argentina Gospel Choir.
"My motivation is unknowingly them".
His inspiration was mutated through time, and his role in the chorus is something that gives him a lot of pleasure, basically, he doesn't feel like a job, and he doesn't count the minutes or seconds to have a vacation. or free time, his passion is the biggest inspiration. And he takes this inspiration to a very current moment: For a month now, and due to the crisis the world is going through because of the COVID-19, the choir (yes, we are talking about 180 people) rehearses in a video conference format once a week, they go over songs, they understand melodies, something they are physically used to do in their rehearsals and that is part of their responsibility as members, however, even though the meeting format has changed, everyone's commitment remains intact, despite all the daily complications that the Coronavirus crisis generates in every home. Seeing how they wait for that moment, how they connect with each other, and how they collaborate to stay together despite the social distance, is what makes Franco proud, this is his inspiration.
In 2016 he organized "The International Gospel Summit"
Every year Franco brings in singers from the New York City Gospel Choir to train Argentine singers and give them the experience of the singing gospel. More than 500 people have already been trained in these activities directly. In 2016 he organized in Harlem, New York, "The International Gospel Summit" with Markanthony Henry, a critically acclaimed, award-winning, highly decorated lecturer, teacher, and musical director with credits including Grammy Awards, Academy Awards, Stellar Awards, and multiple platinum recordings which were attended by 85 singers from Argentina, Chile, Spain, and Japan.
Franco defines equality as an analogy, saying that "what makes us all equal is that we are different".