Album: Connie Francis Sings Italian Favorites (1959)
Charted: 2 8

Songfacts®:

  • While Connie Francis had already become a sensation in the teen market with hits like "Who's Sorry Now," the 22 year old wasn't taken seriously as an adult singer until her father convinced her to record the Italian-language "Mama," written in 1941 by Cesare Andrea Bixio and Bixio Cherubini as "Mama son tanto felice" (Mum, I am so happy). Her performance of the tune on the Perry Como Show proved to be a turning point in her career.

    Francis explained in an interview with DISCoveries Magazine: "Before I did 'Mama' on the Perry Como Show, everyone considered me a rock and roller, even though 'Who's Sorry Now' wasn't a rock and roll song. Still they pegged me a rock and roller because of 'Stupid Cupid' and 'Lipstick On Your Collar,' etc. and the adults didn't pay me any mind. Not true in foreign countries. Overseas, especially in England, I was an adult star before I was an adult star in America. But here, they didn't take me serious until that night on the Perry Como Show. I remember it was a Wednesday night, and I had a concert at Carnegie Hall the following Sunday and only two hundred seats had been sold. Within 24 hours after doing the Perry Como Show they were scalping tickets to get into my show at Carnegie Hall."
  • Francis sang the Italian songs phonetically. She didn't learn how to speak the language until she visited Italy for the third time. "I had a teacher with me 24 hours a day to teach me Italian," she said.
  • The album was recorded in August 1959 at Abbey Road Studios in London. Peaking at #4 and staying on the charts for 81 weeks, it would be remain the most successful album of Francis's career.
  • British singer David Whitfield recorded a hit version in 1955 and landed at #12 on the UK charts.
  • This was used in the 2003 comedy-drama Mambo Italiano, starring Paul Sorvino and Luke Kirby.
  • Francis recorded seven more "Favorites" albums over the next four years, including Jewish, German, and Irish Favorites.
  • This was a difficult song for Elvis Presley, whose mother died in 1958. Francis explained: "The first time I saw Elvis in person was shortly after his mother died. He was in the audience front row center at the Sahara in Las Vegas. Knowing that, I was just dying to meet him after the show. I sang 'Mama' and he started to cry and left the showroom. That was it that night. The next day he sent me two dozen yellow roses with a note apologizing for leaving the show, but his mother had just died and that was the reason. He could not listen to 'Mama.'"

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