- Associated Press - Saturday, March 12, 2011

ROME (AP) - Nilla Pizzi, an Italian singer whose voice was deemed too sensual for radio during the fascist regime of Benito Mussolini has died. She was 91.

Pizzi died on Saturday at a clinic in Milan, where she was convalescing from an earlier operation, the state television said.

The Italian President Giorgio Napolitano hailed Pizzi in his condolence message as a sensitive interpreter of Italy’s tradition of melodic song.

During fascist rule in the years before World War II, Pizzi was kept away from radio work because her voice was deemed too “modern, exotic and sensual,” according to Italian news agency ANSA.

Pizzi triumphed at the 1951 inaugural edition of San Remo, the star-studded festival which promotes Italian song. When she was 90, she sang at San Remo to mark 60 years of the festival and delighted the audience with a still strong and lovely voice.

She also won at San Remo the second year, in 1952, sweeping the festival’s top three prizes, but finished in second place in 1958, when Domenico Modugno won with “Nel blu dipinto di blu,” better known to countless people worldwide as “Volare.”

Pizzi was born Adionilla Pizzi, on April 16, 1919, in Sant’Agata Bolognese, a town near Bologna in the Emilia Romagna region of north central Italy.

She once described the secret of her success as singing those songs which “bring on a good mood, happiness, and maybe even some beautiful memories.”

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