National News

Lara Saint Paul, Italian Singer and Aerobics Promoter, Dies at 73

Posted May 16, 2018 11:13 p.m. EDT

Lara Saint Paul, a popular singer who, inspired by Jane Fonda, kindled an aerobic fitness craze in Italy in the 1980s, died on May 8 in Casalecchio di Reno, near Bologna. She was 73.

Her death was confirmed by the Hospice Casalecchio di Reno.

Saint Paul — who was born in Eritrea, in Northern Africa, which at the time was an Italian colony — made her public debut at an Italian music festival when she was only 16 and rocketed to stardom after performing a duet there with Louis Armstrong when she was barely 20. She later recorded, toured and presented television specials featuring leading American and Italian entertainers.

In the early 1980s, borrowing a page from Fonda, who had demonstrated her entrepreneurial and physical prowess with a series of aerobics videos, Saint Paul produced a wildly successful aerobics video of her own, along with an album and a book. Italians all over were soon copying her pulse-raising moves to a dance-music beat.

Her album “Aerobic Dance” was certified gold in Italy. She also licensed an apparel line that she helped design and a chain of fitness clubs that prospered before the aerobics mania subsided.

But in recent years Saint Paul suffered a number of reversals.

Her husband, Pier Quinto Cariaggi, a successful producer, died in 1995. One of her daughters required a lengthy hospitalization. Her own health failed; she had been undergoing treatment for bowel cancer and had a stroke about a year ago.

Unable to support herself even with a government subsidy for destitute performing artists, she appealed to the public last year for donations.

It was a long fall from her breakout performances at the Sanremo Music Festival in Liguria, where she first appeared in 1962 under the name Tanya; returned in 1966 as Lara Saint Paul, the stage name she would adopt; and sang with Armstrong in 1968.

In 1973 she released “Mi fa morir cantando," an Italian-language version of “Killing Me Softly With His Song,” the plaintive ballad that was a No. 1 hit for Roberta Flack that year.

Born Silvana Areggasc Savorelli on March 31, 1945, to an Italian father and an Eritrean mother, she moved with her family to Italy as a young child.

She studied singing, and her performances at festivals and on recordings catapulted her to popularity in Italy and elsewhere in Europe in the 1970s and ‘80s.

Her album “Saffo Music” (1977), recorded in Los Angeles and produced by Leon Ware, who also worked with Michael Jackson and Marvin Gaye, featured backing vocals by the Pointer Sisters.

In 1988, she returned to the Sanremo Festival as a producer. Four years later, she was the host of a television special featuring Frank Sinatra, Liza Minnelli and Harry Belafonte.

She also owned a record company with her husband.

In 1995 she wrote and, with her husband, produced “The Best Is Yet to Come,” a television documentary about Luciano Pavarotti.

Her survivors include two daughters, two grandchildren and a sister.