Dolcenera is the pseudonym of Emanuela Trane, an Italian pop singer, actress, and reality TV star, whose stage name translates to "sweet and black." Born on May 16, 1977, Trane spent her childhood in southern Italy, where she learned piano and began writing songs as a 13-year-old. While attending Italy's University of Mechanical Engineering, she met her first producer, Lucio Fabbri, violinist in the Italian prog rock band Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM). Her self-composed debut single, "Only You," was released in September 2002, followed a year later by "Siamo Tutti là Fuori," which won an award at the 2003 San Remo Festival. The prize was an album contract with BMG Italy. Fabbri helmed the sessions for her debut album, Sorriso Nucleare. The album's title is derived from a song of the same name, whose theme is children born in the wake of the Chernobyl disaster.
Dolcenera took home another award in 2005, finishing first in the televised singing competition Music Farm. It acted as a precursor to the single "Mai Più Noi Due," and her second album, Un Mondo Perfetto. It was her first platinum-selling album. It stayed atop the Italian album charts for a year. Its title referred to an anthemic song that explored the theme of violence against women. A year later her third album, Il Popolo dei Sogni, also went platinum, led by the single "Com’è Straordinaria la Vita," which was also performed at the San Remo Festival. Also notable was Dolcenera's re-imagined cover of Radiohead's "A Wolf at the Door," which she retitled "Luminal d'Immenso (L'Ombra di Lui)" as a pun referring to the trade name of the anti-epileptic/ani-anxiety drug phenobarbital and a poem by Giuseppe Ungaretti ("M'illumino D'immenso"), to contrast with issues of depression. After its release, Dolcenera toured for two straight years across Italy, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland as both a headliner and an opening act for Zucchero and Vasco Rossi.
In 2009 she performed at the San Remo Festival for the third time in the artists category but was eliminated in the semifinals -- resulting in the audience voicing intensely vocal displeasure. She followed with the album Dolcenera nel Paese delle Meraviglie (Dolcenera in Wonderland), produced by Roberto Vernetti and recorded live from the studio floor. It marked her third consecutive platinum album. In April she participated in United Artists for Abruzzo, comprising over 50 Italian singers, for the recording of Mauro Pagani's song "Domani 21/04.2009" as a benefit to raise funds for those affected by the city's earthquake.
After more touring (including a date with Depeche Mode in Milan), she issued the album Evoluzione della Specie, which she wrote, produced, and arranged. Its lead single, "L'amore è un Gioco" (in duet with the English rapper Professor Green), was supported by a video co-sponsored by the Italian version of Playboy magazine, which also put the artist on its cover. It and the follow-up, "Il Sole de Domenica" (a song about defending minorities), were both certified gold. The album marked a significant musical and sonic change for Dolcenera, in which she moved from piano to synthesizer as her primary instrument. Evoluzione della Specie II, a re-release containing more tracks, arrived in 2012 while she was in the middle of a two-year tour. Both records went gold. A new single, "Ci Vediamo a Casa," went platinum and reigned atop the radio charts for over two months.
Though she was on the road, Dolcenera was thinking ahead and writing her next album. Upon her return from touring, she immediately began working in the recording studio. Once more producing and arranging, she dropped the single and video "Niente al Mondo," which received the most airplay for a female artist in Italy in 2015. (Its theme was an imagined discussion of dreams by Pier Paolo Pasolini and Mario Monicelli.) Two more singles, "Un Peccato" and "Fantastica," also topped the radio charts. The full-length Le Stelle Non Tremano, issued in September of 2015 on Universal, peaked at number five on the Italian charts and went platinum; it was followed by a deluxe edition the following year that also placed in the Top 40.
Dolcenera not only toured to support Le Stelle Non Tremano, but also took part in projects to benefit the welfare of prisoners and to educate the public about the perils of climate change. In addition, the artist found time in 2016 to serve as a coach on the inaugural season of the Italian edition of The Voice with Raffaella Carrà, Emis Killa, and Max Pezzali. Her contestant, Alice Paba, won the competition. Dolcenera has also found success as an actress, landing roles in the Italian films Il Nostro Messia, Scrivilo Sui Muri, and Amore 14 as well as in plays and on television. ~ Andrew Leahey