Gina Sicilia, please tell us a little about yourself.
I was born in Newtown, Bucks County, Penn. I lived there until 2013 when I moved to Nashville. I am a singer, songwriter, recording artist and performer and also started an Italian food company five months ago. It’s called Gina’s Italian Cuisine and I sell pre-made Italian entrees and sauces at farmers markets and retail stores around the area.
Family? Married? Children?
I do not have any children and have never been married, but recently got engaged to the love of my life, Jeff Syracuse, who is a Donelson resident and city councilman.
What brought you to Nashville?
Music was definitely a large part of it. I wanted a place with a strong songwriting community. Basically, I was at a point in my life where I wanted to start over in a brand new place. Also, at the time, Nashville was a much more affordable place to live than Philadelphia and the idea of being able to rent myself an apartment for $400 or $500 a month really appealed to me. Of course, that has since changed, but I love living here and it truly feels like home.
Please tell us your career journey that led you to your ninth CD, Best New Artist in 2008 and on Billboard’s top 10 chart?
During my junior year of college, I recorded my first full-length album and after posting the music on MySpace, it got picked up by a brand-new blues record label called the VizzTone Label Group. I was one of the first artists ever signed to the label in early 2007. This release lead to getting my first booking agent, Piedmont Talent, as well as to getting nominated for a 2008 Blues Music Award in the category of Best New Artist Debut. During this time, I began touring heavily and internationally, mostly as my own booking agent. After five albums with VizzTone I switched over to Blue Elan Records based in Los Angeles for an additional four albums, the latest of which, Love Me Madly, I released during the pandemic in May 2020 and debuted at #1 on Apple Music and #4 on the Billboard Blues Chart. I’m now happy to say I’ll be releasing a new single by the end of this year and am getting back into the studio to record my tenth album, which I’ll be releasing with my original musical home, VizzTone.
What is your style of music? Do you write all your songs?
My music has been largely blues-based with touches of soul, pop, country and jazz along the way. I write 95 percent of the material I record and perform, and my ninth and most recent album was all original, but since there have obviously so many great artists and songs throughout musical history, I’ve always loved covering a couple songs from legendary artists and making them my own.
I understand your latest CD is grittier and more soul-filled?
It’s called Love Me Madly. I decided I wanted to make a straight soul album, something I had never done. It was produced by Cody Dickinson from the North Mississippi Allstars, who definitely added some rawness and southern soul to the music.
From some of your Facebook posts I quickly learned you are a very serious foodie and accomplished in cooking.
I come from an Italian background, so food was always a big thing growing up. The women in my family are great cooks and I’ve also been interested in the idea of cooking. I got more into it during the pandemic when I was at home on lockdown and started posting more photos of my food along with cooking videos and live stream cooking demonstrations. I even started writing a cookbook this year, which I put on the backburner in late March after I started my Italian food company, Gina’s Italian Cuisine.
Tell us about Gina’s Italian Cuisine.
I launched the company on March 26 of this year. It was kind of an impulsive thing actually. I was in a store looking for a pastry cutter and spotted some restaurant grade plastic to-go containers. I decided to buy 50 of them and try selling pasta online to my Facebook friends. I sold out within about 12 hours and the company was born. I decided to keep doing these online orders and it was pretty successful, so I started doing farmers markets shortly after. About a month into having this business I got an offer from Mitchell’s Deli in East Nashville to sell my tomato sauce.
Is the sauce a hybrid of an old, family Italian recipe?
The sauce is a simple recipe that I kind of copied from my mom’s version, minus a few things just to stick with the most basic ingredients. It’s a sweet, fresh-tasting, slightly chunky and summery sauce that is very healthy and only contains six ingredients. It is my goal in the not-too-distant future to start selling frozen entrees, particular those that are keto-friendly.
What’s your specialty for family and friends?
I love making Short Rib Ragu or Bolognese sauce for special occasions.
I love to do hot yoga, particular the Bikram style of Yoga which is 26 postures, repeated twice, in a 104-degree room at about 50% humidity for 90 minutes. I’ve been practicing this for four years now and it’s been truly life-changing.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Me and my fiance have talked about spending some extended time in Italy, he also comes from an Italian background, so I’d love to be doing that in five years. I will always sing, write and perform, that is a given, but it is my hope that running my own successful food business and selling my products wholesale will allow me the autonomy to travel and work from my laptop wherever I am in the world. I want to go everywhere with Jeff.