Laura Pausini is an Italian singer-songwriter, record producer and television personality. As a child, she was encouraged by her father to join him during his performances in local piano bars. After competing in local singing contests, Pausini signed her first recording contract. She rose to fame in 1993, winning the newcomer artists' section of the 43rd Sanremo Music Festival with her debut single "La solitudine", which became an Italian standard and an international hit, topping the charts in Italy, the Netherlands, and Belgium. Her self titled debut album was released in Italy on 23 April 1993 and later became an international success, selling two million copies worldwide.