Di Grace Orfila – Assistant Blog Editor
[We republish the interview to the singer of the I-Talians, Pasquale Depandi]
IDC: Pasquale, you are a trained opera singer who has now become the lead male singer for the I-Talians! What does your musical background and your taste in music bring to the group, and what is next for the I-Talians?
PD: I have a confession to make, Vasco Rossi and Ligabue were unfamiliar to me before I met the I-Talians, I did not know one single song! My musical background is Neapolitan songs thanks to my parents who introduced me to O’ Sole Mio and Torna A Surriento at a very early age. I grew up in the United States after my family left Naples in 1978. I was the only kid in high school who would enjoy listening to Bruce Springsteen and Pino Daniele CD’s in the car! After high school, I attended Catholic University here in Washington DC to study music, actually voice. I was training to become an opera singer with a lyrical baritone voice. Once I decided to change my studies for various reasons I abandoned my passion for music to earn a degree in Economics and Philosophy from the American University. Although I was not involved in music on a business level, my passion for singing came to light once again when I auditioned for the lead male vocals position with the band the I-Talians. Rosalia who shares my life introduced me to the I-Talians and is now in charge of our webpage and is officially my number one fan! The band has a very busy May planned, not only are we performing at the Italian Embassy, but we also have a concert at the Italian Church Casa Italiana and we will be performing at the Italian Festival in Frederick, Maryland.
IDC: Born in Napoli, your family relocated to Bethesda, Maryland when you and your sisters were young. When you think back to that time of transition in your life, what experiences stand out?
PD: My first impression coming to America was the difference in the streets, the shear size of everything, the cars, homes and the space was overwhelming compared to the small narrow and dark streets of my native city Napoli. I do remember how quiet it was. The transition for my family was difficult, we came here on a summer vacation and we never returned, so you can imagine how difficult it must have been for a 10 year old to leave friends, loved ones and places I felt comfortable with and called home. Even though the transition was difficult the choice was right and it was worth any sacrifices my parents made in order to start a new life here in Washington DC.
IDC: You work in the field of Air Defense Logistics here in Washington. What do you love about your work?
PD: I have been involved with supporting US and foreign Government’s military aircrafts since 1991. Defense Trading Corporation (DTC) started just after graduating from American University in the basement of my parents home in Bethesda and I never looked back! I have been lucky enough to see most of the world and to interact with different cultures. I consider myself privileged to have been able to support our US Government and its allies in times of war and peace.
IDC: The members of the DePandi Family have the gifts of determination and diligence, excelling in every field that they occupy. Your father Eduardo DePandi is a renowned master tailor and the owner of DePandi in Chevy Chase, Maryland, arguably the finest local destination for Italian men’s designer fashion. Your sister Giuliana DePandi Rancic has also gained wide recognition for her work in television and journalism. What family ethos do you draw strength and inspiration from?
PD: Our strength is simple, hard work! My father has been a master tailor forever, he was 11 years old when he learned the trade and is still hard at work in his new store in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Both my mother and father have worked hard and as long as I can remember they always stressed not only to me, but to both of my sisters as well that hard work pays off. My parents were the inspiration to all three of us growing up, enjoy what you do and get busy working, then play time comes later on. I was also lucky enough to have parents who kept our traditions and beliefs alive in me. I have them to thank for my fluent Italian language.
IDC: What particular restaurant or cuisine do you find yourself returning to again and again?
PD: If I am not visiting my mother in Bethesda for the best home cooked meal, there is only one restaurant I enjoy in the Washington DC area and that is Il Canale in Georgetown. It is as close as you will ever get to authentic Neapolitan cuisine with an Italian staff who makes me feel like being back in Italy. When Rosalia and I want to enjoy a quiet evening together with delicious Italian food, you will find us at Il Canale. My family has been in the restaurant business forever so not only can we be the best dressed men at the party, but the most well fed as well! My aunt Antonietta and her husband Roberto own Pasta Mia in Adams Morgan. They specialize in various delicious pasta dishes and it is another one of my favorite places to dine as well. I guess I cannot live without Italian food.
IDC: Let’s say you had the opportunity to spend an afternoon with a musical icon from any genre and era. Who would it be?
PD: I would have to say I’d choose to be on a deserted beach with Bob Marley and Sergio Bruni, with a cold Red Stripe in my hand….I know this may sound crazy, but although very different in style and music, they were both exceptional musicians and artists who have contributed to both of their cultures and I am profoundly proud to have had the opportunity to be inspired by both of them, even though they came from two different worlds.
IDC: Besides music, what other interests do you enjoy?
PD: I love to spend time with my kids, especially taking trips with my daughter and talking about cars with my son. My passion for soccer is also second to none, and there is no reason I’d miss my Saturday morning games at Bretton Woods in Potomac, Maryland. I am a fan of the Italian soccer team Napoli whom I follow year after year, and have become accustomed to disappointment year after year, but always and forever, FORZA NAPOLI!!!!
IDC: If you could wake up anywhere you wished tomorrow morning, where would you choose to find yourself?
PD: Under the warm sun in the small coastal town of Vietri Sul Mare on the Amalfi Coast, living la “dolce vita”.