Dancer and arts activist Paul Fiorino releases his album Guitar and Voice
Paul Fiorino has been many things: a ballet dancer, the president of Golden Triangle Museum District, an unaffiliated candidate for governor in 2006 and 2010, and a candidate for mayor. Now he's also Paul Fiorino the singer/songwriter, having just released his album Guitar and Voice on the CD Baby web site.
It's a mix of songs about everyday life and songs dedicated to religion and faith. "This album really is, I feel, dedicated to the people who have supported me throughout my career, parents, my family, my fans," Fiorino says. "And for new folks that want to understand who this Paul Noel Fiorino is."
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Fiorino's dancing career began forty years ago when he discovered it as an alternative to sports while in high school. But music had been a part of his life for much longer than dance. "Having a career in music essentially started with my mother being a choir teacher at All Souls Choir," Fiorino says. "So I kind of came up through the Catholic church and I was a hymnal leader also, for mass, and did that whole thing for a while."
And although Fiorino danced his way through New York, Israel and back to Broadway, "the guitar always was my accompaniment, it was the thing that kind of kept me sane, I think," he says. A self-taught musician, Fiorino developed his own finger-picking method. Words and melodies came to him easily, and he began writing songs.
In 1993, Fiorino was affected by Guillain-Barre syndrome, a disease where the immune system attacks the nervous system and can paralyze the muscles. "I couldn't even move a finger, never mind smile," Fiorino recalls. But he was able to overcome it and regain his body's movement. "What it did is it strengthened what I had accomplished in my career as a dancer to realize you can't take anything for granted. Movement, for sure. People need to get up and move, period," he says.
Fiorino wasn't taking the movement of his hands to play the guitar for granted either. "It also gave me clarity in the fact that I had these songs that were not only speaking to me, but I felt had a voice of their own." But the time wasn't right, and Fiorino still had other projects to accomplish before releasing his music to the world.
"In 2005, my business facility was torn down for development, so that kind of released me to be a freelancer. And so I went out and continued playing music, continued performing and teaching dance and advocating for the arts," Fiorino says. As part of his activism for arts and culture, he decided to run for Governor in 2006 and again in 2010 as an unaffiliated candidate. "What that did was give me opportunity to speak about the arts, about how they relate to our everyday lives and how important they are to Colorado."
With his campaign, Fiorino hoped to show the art community they can be involved in politics, because it affects them in many ways. "There's a strong apathy factor that is really disturbing, and I think that's where our problems really lie," he says. "I believe that people need to get involved in the community at every level. It's just a matter of doing something."
No matter how busy he is with arts or politics, music is always occupying a part of his mind. "I always try to have a guitar somewhere. Even if it's not the best guitar, darn it, you can still make some nice sounds out of it," he says. Over the years, he has been compiling the songs that are now part of his Guitar and Voice album. "It has been in the making for while. I just decided to take the time and work with Ted Mentry, who's a producer but he's also a very fine musician himself, and I had been talking to him for quite a few years about getting into the studio. And when we finally got it done, then I just felt like these are the songs that have kind of scoped through my life."
Finally, Fiorino felt like the time was right to release his album. "I always felt like my music would come after the dance career, and I am in the twilight of my dance career, physically speaking," he says. Although he is still doing ballets--like the Nutcracker and Ferdinand the Bull--he now dedicates more time to composing music. He released the physical album at Twist and Shout, and then decided to release it through CD Baby, so it can be purchased through digital music stores, like iTunes and Amazon. "I do feel like it's out there now, you know, like you let the kids grow up and they move out and they're on their own, and yet you hope they call."
Although some of the songs have religious themes, Fiorino feels there is something in the album for everyone. "I don't feel I relate to the fundamental Christian aspects. And yet there's a fundamental Christian anthem on that album, which I believe has a its place, that 'God is love.' So to be down on people, in any way, and judgmental I don't think is where Christianity really should be," he says.
Other songs are about common themes like life and love, like the last song on the album, "Tappin' His Foot," which he wrote for his son. An aspect Fiorino likes about releasing the song electronically is that listeners can preview them and choose to purchase the ones they relate to.
Fiorino is currently working on other music projects that may come to life soon. He is working on an album with students from Career Education Center, which he would like to release. He would also like to release and instrumental album. "I feel that's another part I need to have out there, is just this guitar technique. Because I didn't learn that from anybody," Fiorino says. He is also featured on the PBS documentary The Man Who Came to Dance, which he will be re-releasing soon.
Fiorino's album can be previewed and purchased on CD Baby.