"My whole world is gay"
Gioia Bruno has finally released her long-await solo album "Expose This" (iTunes link). With the help of producers Chris Cox and Junior Vasquez, the singer is quickly emerging as the next great club diva. The album combines infectious dance grooves, her powerful vocals and a heavy dose of positivity that many gays will likely relate to.
In the late eighties and early nineties, Gioia was part of Exposé. The girl trio released the chart-topping albums "Exposure" and "What You Don't Know," which spawned the hits "Come Go With Me," "Point Of No Return" and "Let Me Be The Last To Know."
The singer, who now likes to go by her first name Gioia only (pronounced "joy-ah"), signed last year with KOCH Records to work on this much-anticipated comeback record.
Gioia's story is one of disappointment and perseverance. At the height of her success with Exposé, Gioia was diagnosed with an inoperable benign throat tumor. She was not able to speak for three years and doctors informed her she would never sing again.
Gioia turned to religion and meditation to find strength and encouragement, and after almost 5 years the tumor miraculously disappeared. With more fervor than ever before, the singer navigated her career back on track. She sang rock music as the lead of WET and toured with Bon Jovi's Richie Sambora and others.
But as time progresses Gioia could not deny that pop and dance music were her favorites."I love to go out and dance and I love that music. I got tired of the rock music. I really just wanted to dance," she tells Arjan. "With Exposé I never really had the chance to throw it down, because the three of us simply had to make the same steps all the time. Now, I can really show all my energy."
Her transition from rock to dance music accelerated when her songs were remixed and became popular in clubs. "It all made sense actually," she says. "For a long time, I did not wanted to go back to dance. There is so much more to me than that. But dance has changed. You can write any music and it can be transformed into wonderful dance music. There is so much opportunity."
Her high-energy personality, infectious dance beats and story of struggle and survival make Gioia the ideal club diva. No wonder that gays are flocking to clubs in their towns to witness this emerging dance phenomenon. She got a boost in gay popularity when a Junior Vasquez remix of "From The Inside" was featured on last year's "Queer As Folk" soundtrack and became an underground club anthem
Gioia also has a very personal connection to the gay community. Her brother-in-law and best friend died of AIDS and she wrote the song "Free To Be" in their memory. "It is a positive song, because no matter how bad their day was, they kept a positive attitude," she says.
"The death of my brother-in-law brought our family together and taught us unconditional love. He was so sick in the hospital and I came to see him one day and his sat up in his bed and he told me, 'Gioia, you're destined for greatness.' It is hard to measure greatness, but what he was trying to say was that I have a voice and I will be heard."
As a resident of Ft. Lauderdale, FL, Gioia is surrounded by gay friends or "the community" as she likes to call it. "My whole world is gay," she says. "There are so many gay people here. I find that my numerous gay friends are so amazingly fun, artistic and brave."
After years of living in the pop bubble with every move carefully planned and executed, Gioia is now able to make her own decision as a singer. "I am now living the life that I've always wanted. Writing my own music and doing the stuff I want," the singer says.
Exposé took away much of Gioia's infatuating individuality. "Exposé was a wonderful experience, but I didn't get to write my own songs and make my own decisions," she says. "My life during that time was so fast and furious."
Her deal with KOCH Records allows her to continue making music at her terms, but rely on the marketing power of a worldwide organization. "I am the first dance artist on their label. It is going to be wild," says Gioia.
"There was some talk about putting Exposé back together, but then all this opportunity happened," she smiles.