When Griffith-born university student Harry Catanzariti was just 13 years old, he was struck by a freak infection that paralysed his vocal cords.
“I didn’t think I’d ever be able to speak again, let alone sing,” he said.
Thankfully, Harry’s health gradually improved over the next few years as his love of music blossomed. By 2020, he had taught himself to play the piano and guitar during the COVID-19 lockdowns, singing to himself as he played.
Harry, now 20, has produced pop music and released it online ever since. His five biggest hits have been streamed a total of more than 1.8 million times on the digital music service Spotify.
“My first song, Out of Love, was for an IT assignment in year 11. It was to showcase how I could use digital audio software.
“It quickly blew up, I got to 100,000 streams within a month, without any marketing.
“Then I released Message, which was produced by [well-known Griffith musician] Ben Ceccato, and that one again blew up.
“I then did Stay, which went even better, but my most successful hit was Final Dance, which has been streamed more than 772,000 times.”
Shani Grimmond, a popular Brisbane-based beauty guru with more than 1.3 million Instagram followers, was an early Harry Catanzariti fan.
“She picked it up [my song] and she shared it around on Instagram. That helped me, a lot of people got to hear it and liked it.”
Harry’s five big hits have been streamed in 173 countries.
“My top-five countries are the US, Germany, Netherlands, Australia and UK. I can’t believe that Australia is just No. 4. I’m not sure why my music is so popular in the US and Europe. If I could crack the code, I would try and reach as many people as I could.”
While the speed of success came as a shock, it was no surprise to the broader community that Harry fell into music. His father, Brendan, has been a popular drummer in town for about 40 years.
“I formed my first band when I was about 13, it was called Tornado. Then in high school, we had a band called Hostage. We were the premier school band in town,” Brendan said.
He’s immensely proud of his son.
“Who would’ve thought that a guy who had never sung before would be at 1.8 million streams … it’s pretty amazing, he’s got the skills to both sing and produce, like Dr Dre [American rapper].”
The remarkable thing about Harry is that he never had formal music lessons.
“I would just hum along to Dad’s guitar when I was younger. That’s how I learned. I grew up singing and then decided to teach myself how to play piano and guitar,” Harry said.
He says his musical idols are Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. At home, he notes the help he’s received from Ben Ceccato and former schoolmate Thomas Terrazas.
Harry is currently studying psychological science and business at the University of Wollongong. He continues to record music in his free time and says a father-son collaboration could be coming soon.
“I’d love to do it. I tried to do a recording with him before but he’s too impatient … it can take more than 25 hours to mix a song.”
Brendan is also known as a passionate health advocate, who was at the forefront of a 2017 campaign to save Griffith Base Hospital from NSW Government funding cuts. This is another fatherly trait Harry has inherited.
“The core of any town is their health service. If you don’t have it, you can’t function. Major cities are so far away, so we need our own services,” Harry said.
But for now, his focus is on music as he returns to his beloved town of Griffith for the Christmas holidays.
“I’m really content with wherever my music takes me. If it goes further, it goes further.”
Original Article published by Oliver Jacques on Region Riverina.