So … star, Gypsy, music, Mensa, poor, famous, generous, Grammy, Romanian, … can you put these words together? … You have to! we are starting to talk about Damian Drăghici, the genius with panpipes … the one who makes us forget the appearances and believe in destiny.
Damian Draghici was born in a family of musicians, traditionally gypsy music (lăutărească). He started playing at the age of three … cymbal, piano, contrabas, skins … at the age of ten, panpipes … and this was what he has chosen for life.
Maybe without a traditionally education, he said he was never interested in school (as many gifted children), but with a strong musical education, from a family with many generations of musicians, starting learning at a very young age, always interested in “the music that chosen him” … in fact, some of these details can be found in many biographies of great musicians, from classic to modern music.
Really gifted, he was soon renowned as prodigy in Romania, participation of National festivals and concerts. Then invitations to play abroad, 1885 Denmark, again in 1987, 1988 the invitation of Richard Clayderman … all refused by the communist regime.
In 1988 he left clandestinely crossed the border at Timişoara in Yugoslavia, he walked many kilometers intending to get in Italy, but finally arriving in Greece … there he played initially at tables for money, then he succeeded in playing keyboards in clubs … then, after a jazz concert with only four-five as audience, he decided to risk again for making what he always wished, real music.
The first step was a contract in Holland, a CD with Sony Music and then “the American dream”. He, “the Romanian gypsy”, dares to participate to an audition for Berklee College of Music, Boston and he obtained a full scholarship. He wasn’t having the money to get there, but they wanted him deeply and so this was resolved this too. He finished Berklee College in one year and two months instead of four years with Magna Cum Laude; Damian Drăghici, obviously a phenomenon.
Someone that saw him so “rapid” in everything, always “bored”, speaking quickly, searching for something new, proposed him to give a Mensa test, he took this one too, Damian Drăghici is now a Mensa’s member.
In America, he becomes recognized for his outstanding talent …. release Damian’s Fire with the London Symphony Orchestra and musicians such as Dave Weckl, Neil Stubenhaus, Jimmy Johnson, John Robinson, Mike Miller, Ramon Stagnaro, Luis Conte … then in 2004 he joined as one of the headliners the Night of the Proms along with James Brown, Joe Cocker, Shaggy, Cyndi Lauper, Zucchero, Gypsy Kings, Roger Hodgson (Supertramp), The Pointer Sisters … and also a Grammy prize.
We can definitely say that Damian Drăghici lived in America “the American dream”, but this wasn’t his dream … he started speaking about his depression in this world of glamour, “without substance, where everything is fake” for him … psychologists came into scene, the last one find the treatment: “You don’t need medicament. Go back to your roots. Go back home”. Quincy Jones said the same thing “Damian, go home. What I did for black people, what Spielberg did for Jewish, you can make for Gypsies”.
The Project “Damian & Brothers” was for his soul, returning in Romania, playing with Romanians Gypsies … a show that went through all Europe, a project that finally lasted three years, not three months as he initially thought. His appearance also changed from the Hollywood one to a “free” one … getting some weighs, having beard, singing drunk … he was amazed how much money you can make beating the drum … how many women you can have (he’s a man after all) even if you don’t look “pretty” … how you have to return to jazz until you lost yourself.
And jazz it was, the “best” of it, in 2010 with Eddie Daniels and Diane Schuur and in 2011, Classical Meets Jazz with Nigel Kennedy.
Now, Damian Drăghici, gives us another lesson. He decided to give up music, something that he says he has done only for his ambition, in order to help the others. Damian Drăghici has now a foundation that helps gifted children.
For some reason, glory is never in enough, why having a Grammy when you can have two, three, four … it never actually ends … and this is the lesson of Damian Drăghici, knowing to choose the “other” way.
I don’t know if Damian Drăghici is now happy, even if I think that in different ways he has always been and he always will. I know he is making an enormous generous thing by helping gifted children, another reason for admiring him even more.
And I also think that he will return someday to music, because “music chosen him” first, but maybe this is just a thought of someone used to think in patterns.
photo: last.fm, cinemagia.ro, a1.ro, cultural-china.com, adevarul.ro