The Italian Barry White – that pretty much sums up everything about the Sicilian-born Mario Bondi: with his sensually crooning voice, he is an extremely popular interpreter of soul and R&B tunes. Born Mario Ranno, the singer probably had his fate set out for him in advance, as his father, Stefano Biondi, was himself a hit factory, while other family members – his grandmother as a singer and his great-grandfather as a painter – also enjoyed widespread acclaim in the arts. Mario launched his professional career as a teenager: he was all of 17 years old when he took the stage alongside Ray Charles, with the cream of the crop of Italian vocalists also taking up inviting him to their recording sessions and concerts. He would not deny that Isaac Hayes, Luther Vandross and Donnie Hathaway all had a major influence on the development of his own style. He exploded onto the international music scene and public consciousness in 2004 with his first real hit: This Is What You Are. This number, which he recorded with the High Five Quintet, climbed to the top of numerous charts, inspired numerous remixes and was performed at the Sanremo Music Festival. But Biondi still would not end up sticking with this style, instead going on to experiment with other musical directions ranging from jazz and funk to pop and Brazilian sounds. His popularity has continued unabated into the current decade. Outstanding proof of this fact is his 2013 album Sun, which features such guest artists as Leon Ware, Chaka Khan, Al Jarreau and James Taylor. Never waiting for the wave of success to subside, Biondi instead rode it and came out with Mario Christmas, a CD of holiday tunes that kept him in the spotlight. He performs his songs in impeccable English. Although it is rare for him to sing in his mother tongue, at the Bridging Europe festival he will deliver a few songs in Italian.