Albania: Italian singer Al Bano awarded Scanderbeg medal

Artist receives honour in Rome for role in regime fall

24 May, 11:33

    (ANSAmed) - ROME, MAY 24 - Italian singer Al Bano Carrisi on Thursday was awarded in Rome with a gold medal from the Albanian order dedicated to the national hero who freed Albania from Turkish rule, Giorgio Castriota Scanderbeg (1414-1507).

    Receiving the prize, the internationally renowned crooner recalled why he was named Al Bano, in honour of a country where his father fought during World War II. 'If he is a boy, let's call him Al Bano, it will bring him luck', he reportedly said. 'I have a very special connection with Albania', said the artist, recalling how his father Carmelo Carrisi used to tell him he was called Al Bano 'because I was in Albania during the war but didn't kill anyone'. He also returned alive: 'He would sleep in the home of locals who would feed him corn'.

    Albanian ambassador to Italy, Neritan Ceka, said it is the first time the honour granted by the president of the republic is awarded to an artist.

    The ambassador said the singer from Cellino San Marco contributed in sparking a popular protest which in 1991 led to the fall of a 45-year-long regime. Al Bano, stressed Ceka, performed in 1989 in Tirana in front of 20,000 youths, singing songs of freedom. 'On September 18-19 1989, shortly before the fall of the Wall, I performed at the local congress palace and the stadium in Tirana', the artist told ANSAmed. It was the first time that a Western artist performed there, he said. 'I saw the new Albania being born', said Al Bano. 'I planted a seed of freedom and I am not saying this but former president Amir Topi'. The singer said he wants to go back to Tirana soon: 'I would like to go back and sing exactly there, in the same stadium'. (ANSAmed)
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