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  • Writer's pictureMichael Bugeja


Updated: Mar 10, 2020

Freddie Portelli in the studio back in the 1970s

As Freddie Portelli prepares to kick off the New Year with a new single, his daughter Claudette talks about her father's influence on her life in music and beyond.

Malta's King of Rock 'n Roll is celebrating a successful 2019 with news of a brand new release. Freddie Portelli's latest single, Nina, was written and composed by the artist and is scheduled for release on January 25, 2020. The song is inspired by the 10-year old TV presenter Nina, from the popular NET TV programme Family Affair, who apparently caught Portelli's attention with her charming and innocent character.

This is not the first song that Portelli has written that was inspired by a child. Back in the 1970s, he had written the song Claudette for his own daughter, Claudette, who sang and recorded the song that was released as a single via Eljayar Records when she was just four years old. The single was one of a number of songs that Claudette released on a cassette album. Asked about his daughter's debut single, Portelli says that "the song was so popular on the radio that many expectant mothers went on to name their daughters Claudette".

Although no longer publicly active as an artist, Claudette's musical inclination is still very much alive, and she is still involved in her father's career, often featuring on his recorded work. "Music remains very important to me," she said in a comment to, "it filled my childhood with harmony and joy. I think my father's dream was to make me the Maltese Nikka Costa, but mum did not want me to miss school, so my life took another twist". She decided to focus on studying and went on to become a qualified Clinical Psychologist specialising in Brief Strategic Therapy. "I wanted to be able to help people get out of their suffering. I love what I do. It is so overwhelming to see persons get better and emerge from their darkness".

Next year will be Portelli's 60th as an active singer, songwriter and recording artist. In the decades that have passed, Portelli has clocked up numerous hits, released an impressive number of albums and performed countless gigs and concerts in Malta and abroad. More importantly, one has to mention that Freddie has always made it clear that he owes his success to the loyal support of his fans. Throughout this time he has also become deeply associated with charity work. "I think that while I inherited his passion for music, I totally embraced his philanthropic nature", Claudette added. "My dad is my mentor. His positive regard towards life, reflected in his popular catchphrase 'Il-kbir ghadu gej' (the best is yet to come) helped me a lot in my in both my choice of profession and my personal life". Claudette says her father is the best problem-solver, practicing what he preaches. "Where there is a problem, there also lies a solution, he always tells us, and I firmly believe it".

After graduating at the University of Malta and obtaining her Masters and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology in Italy - which makes her Dr. Claudette Portelli now - Claudette specialized in Brief strategic Therapy. This gave her the opportunity to travel around the world to train other psychologists. "My dream was to bring my knowledge and practice to our precious island". Just like her father, she is proud to be Maltese, and though she still travels to spread "the good virus", she remains based in Malta. Here, together with her Italian and Irish colleagues, she opened a research, consultancy and training Institute, InSRT, which aims to study and improve evidence-based protocols in the treatment of anxieties, obsessive compulsion disorders, eating disorders and addictions. Claudette has written numerous scientific articles and psychological texts that have been internationally acclaimed and rewarded.

Even though his daughter did not take up the musical career he had in mind for her, it is clear from the way he talks of her accomplishments that Freddie is a very proud father. He loves it when persons stop him and say "Freddie your daughter helped us - just like your music, she brings light to people's lives", clearly referencing his own efforts to help charitable causes. Freddie Portelli has released several albums whose entire proceeds were donated to philanthropic organizations, among them Inspire, Hospice Malta, Malta Community Chest Fund and Id-Dar tal-Providenza. Part of the proceeds from his published biography also went to Id-Dar tal-Providenza and he often performs at fundraising events for charitable organizations. In recognition of his musical and charitable contributions, Freddie was awarded our nation's highest honour, Gieh ir-Repubblika, by the then-President of Malta Dr Marie Louis Coleiro Preca. Earlier this year, he received an award for National Cultural Activities by the current President of Malta, Dr George Vella. Freddie was also presented with Life Achievement awards by Malta Music Awards and the LovinMalta Awards.

Earlier this year, the musical Il-Kbir ghadu gej, based on a number of Freddie's songs, was a total smash hit. Not that it should come as a surprise really, Freddie Portelli is after all, one of, if not THE most loved and best-selling Maltese artists of all time, and a national institution on top of it.


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