Ninna nanna is a Neapolitan ballad, sung by Pink Martini in the album “Splendor in the Grass” (2009). Here the band performs the song live in 2010 at Jazz Open Stuttgart, Germany.

“Ninna nanna” is a stunning lullaby sung for a sleeping sailor who “dreams in the blue” written for the band by longtime friends Alba Clemente (actress of Italian stage and wife of the Italian painter Francesco Clemente who co-authored the band’s hit “Una Notte a Napoli“) and New York art dealer Massimo Audiello.

Pink Martini – Ninna nanna. Vocals: China Forbes & Timothy Nishimoto

Ninna nanna Lyrics (Neapolitan/English)

Ninna nanna marinare/ lullaby of the sea
‘Ngopp a varca, miezo o mare/ on the boat, in the middle of the sea
Io te parl e nun respunn/ I speak but you don’t answer
Te si perze miez o suonn/ you’re lost in your sleep

Te vurria magna’ de vas/I’d like to cover you with kisses
Ma ho paura e te sceta’/ but I don’t want to wake you up
Cosi’ guarde da luntane/ So i just look at you 
Co’ stu core innammurat/ with this heart in love

Quann aggia’ spetta/ how long do i have to wait
D’averti questa sera/ for having you tonight
Co’sta luna quiena?/ with this full moon light
Quann aggia ‘ sogna’/ For how long do i have to dream
Di dirti quanto t’amo/ to tell you how much i love you
Co’ stu’ core ‘man – ma tu -/ with this heart in my hands- but you
sogni qui nel bluuuu…/ you dream here in the blue

Ninna nanna marinare/ lullaby of the sea
Tu si bell comme o’ mare/ you’re as beautiful as the sea
A vote calm, senza creste/ sometimes calm, without crests
A vote tutta na’ tempesta/ sometimes tempestuous

Ma tu suonn d’ate cose/ but you dream of something else
E chissa se t’arricuord/ and who knows if you remember
Che tra a luna e mieze e stelle/ that among the moon and the stars
Io t’aspette a braccia aperte/ i wait for you with open arms

Quann aggia’ spetta/ how long do i have to wait
D’averti questa sera/ for having you tonight
Co’sta luna quiena?/ with this full moon light
Quann aggia ‘ sogna’/ For how long do i have to dream
Di dirti quanto t’amo/ to tell you how much i love you
Co’ stu’ core ‘man – ma tu -/ with this heart in my hands- but you
sogni qui nel bluuuu…/ you dream here in the blue

Ninna nanna nanna nanna/ lullaby, lullaby
Ninna nanna nanna nanna / lullaby, lullaby

Pink Martini

Pink Martini
Pink Martini

In 1994 in his hometown of Portland, Oregon, Thomas Lauderdale was working in politics, with the intention of eventually running for office. Like other eager politicians-in-training, he went to every political fundraiser under the sun… but was dismayed to find the music at these events underwhelming, lackluster, loud, and un-neighborly.

Drawing inspiration from music from all over the world – crossing genres of classical, jazz, and old-fashioned pop – and hoping to appeal to conservatives and liberals alike, he founded the “little orchestra” Pink Martini in 1994 to provide more beautiful and inclusive musical soundtracks for political fundraisers for causes such as civil rights, affordable housing, cleaning up the Willamette River, funding for libraries, public broadcasting, education and parks.

One year later, Lauderdale called China Forbes, a Harvard classmate who was living in New York City and asked her to join Pink Martini. They began to write songs together. Their first song – “Sympathique” (Je ne veus pas travailler)- became an overnight sensation in France, was nominated for “Song of the Year” at France’s Victoires de la Musique Awards, and to this day remains a mantra (“Je ne veux pas travailler” or “I don’t want to work”) for striking French workers.

Says Lauderdale, “We’re very much an American band, but we spend a lot of time abroad and therefore have the incredible diplomatic opportunity to represent a broader, more inclusive America… the America which remains the most heterogeneously populated country in the world… composed of people of every country, every language, every religion. Except for Native Americans, all of us are immigrants from every country, of every language, of every religion.”

Featuring a dozen musicians, Pink Martini performs its multilingual repertoire in over 25 languages on concert stages and with symphony orchestras throughout Europe, Asia, Greece, Turkey, the Middle East, Northern Africa, Australia, New Zealand, South America, and North America. Pink Martini made its European debut at the Cannes Film Festival in 1997 and its orchestral debut with the Oregon Symphony in 1998 under the direction of Norman Leyden.

Since then, the band has gone on to play with more than 70 orchestras around the world, including multiple engagements with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, the Boston Pops, the National Symphony at the Kennedy Center, the San Francisco Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Sydney Symphony at the Sydney Opera House, and the BBC Concert Orchestra at Royal Albert Hall in London.

Other appearances include

  • the grand opening of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall, with return sold-out engagements for New Year’s Eve 2003, 2004, 2008, 2011, 2014, and 2016;
  • sold-out concerts at Carnegie Hall; the opening party of the remodeled Museum of Modern Art in New York City;
  • the Governor’s Ball at the 80th Annual Academy Awards in 2008;
  • there sold-out shows with the Sydney Symphony at the renowned Sydney Opera House;
  • sold-out concerts at Royal Albert Hall in London in 2011, 2013, and 2016, multiple sold-out appearances, and a festival opening, at the Montreal Jazz Festival, two sold-out concerts at Paris’ legendary L’Olympia Theatre in 2011 and 2016;
  • and Paris’ fashion house Lanvin’s 10-year anniversary celebration for designer Alber Elbaz in 2012. In 2014, Pink Martini was inducted into both the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame and the Oregon Music Hall of Fame.
Pink Martini performs Ninna nanna
Pink Martini performs Ninna nanna in Stuttgart

Television appearances include The Late Show with David Letterman, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Later with Jools Holland, and a feature on CBS Sunday Morning. The band created a nationally broadcast 2015 NPR holiday concert special, Joy to the World: A Holiday Spectacular, and has been featured on multiple New Year’s Eve broadcasts on NPR’s Toast of the Nation.

Pink Martini’s debut album Sympathique was released independently in 1997 on the band’s own label Heinz Records (named after Lauderdale’s dog) and quickly became an international phenomenon, garnering the group nominations for “Song of the Year” and “Best New Artist” in France’s Victoires de la Musique Awards in 2000. Pink Martini released Hang On Little Tomato in 2004, Hey Eugene! in 2007, and Splendor In The Grass in 2009.

In November 2010 the band released Joy To The World-a festive, multi-denominational holiday album featuring songs from around the globe. Joy To The World received glowing reviews and was carried in Starbucks stores during the 2010 and 2011 holiday seasons. All five albums have gone gold in France, Canada, Greece, and Turkey.

In Fall 2011 the band released two albums – A Retrospective, a collection of the band’s most beloved songs spanning their 18-year career, which includes eight previously unreleased tracks, and 1969, an album of collaborations with legendary Japanese singer Saori Yuki.

1969 has been certified platinum in Japan, reaching #2 on the Japanese charts, with the Japan Times raving “the love and respect Saori Yuki and Pink Martini have for the pop tradition shines through on every track.” The release of 1969 marked the first time a Japanese artist hit the American Billboard charts since Kyu Sakamoto released “Sukiyaki” in 1963. Pink Martini albums have sold over 3 million copies worldwide.

The band has collaborated with numerous artists.

Pink Martini has an illustrious roster of regular guest artists: NPR’s Ari Shapiro, host of All Things Considered; Cantor Ida Rae Cahana (who was cantor at the Central Synagogue in NYC for five years); koto player Masumi Timson; harpist Maureen Love; and Kim Hastreiter (the publisher/editor-in-chief of Paper magazine).

In January 2012 bandleader Thomas Lauderdale began work on Pink Martini’s seventh studio album when he recorded the Charlie Chaplin song “Smile” with the legendary Phyllis Diller. The album, titled Get Happy, was released in September 2013 and features 16 globe-spanning songs in nine languages. The band’s beloved vocalist China Forbes anchors the recording, and she was joined by her co-lead singer Storm Large, recording with Pink Martini for the first time, along with a cavalcade of special guests including Rufus Wainwright, Philippe Katerine, Meow Meow, The von Trapps & Ari Shapiro.

And while still in the studio for Get Happy, Lauderdale simultaneously began work on the band’s eighth studio album, Dream a Little Dream, featuring Sofia, Melanie, Amanda, and August von Trapp, the actual great-grandchildren of Captain and Maria von Trapp, made famous by the movie The Sound of Music. These siblings have been singing together for 12 years and have toured all over the world in concert.

Drawn into the magical orbit of Thomas Lauderdale, they now live together in a house in Portland, Oregon, and have been frequent guest performers with Pink Martini for the past two years. The album, released in March 2014, traverses the world, from Sweden to Rwanda to China to Bavaria, and features guest appearances by The Chieftains, Wayne Newton, “Jungle” Jack Hanna, and Charmian Carr (who played Liesl in the original Sound of Music).

In 2016, Pink Martini released its ninth studio album, Je dis oui!, which features vocals from China Forbes, Storm Large, Ari Shapiro, fashion guru Ikram Goldman, civil rights activist Kathleen Saadat, and Rufus Wainwright. The album’s 15 tracks span eight languages (French, Farsi, Armenian, Portuguese, Arabic, Turkish, Xhosa, and English), and affirm the band’s 23-year history of global inclusivity and collaborative spirit.

Source: Pink Martini Official Website

M. Özgür Nevres

Published by M. Özgür Nevres

I am Özgür Nevres, a software engineer, a former road racing cyclist, and also an amateur musician. I opened to share my favorite music. I also take care of stray cats & dogs. This website's all income goes directly to our furry friends. Please consider supporting me on Patreon, so I can help more animals!

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