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Enzo Gusman: A Lifetime of Maltese Music and Broadcasting Excellence

Enzo Gusman, also known as Laurence Gusman, was a celebrated Maltese singer-songwriter and broadcaster, born on 9 August 1947 in Sliema, Malta. His career, spanning several decades, saw him achieve both national and international acclaim, particularly during the 1970s when he represented Malta in various song contests and festivals around the world. He passed away on 18 December 2021 at the age of 74.

photo: Facebook

Gusman's talent was first discovered by the late comic actor Johnnie Navarro, who invited him to perform as a resident singer on the programme "TIC TAC" transmitted on the now-defunct Malta's Cable Radio system run by Rediffusion. He started his career at the young age of 13, singing as the lead vocalist with the all-Maltese band "The Boys" in the early 1960s. By 1968, he represented Malta in the Olympiade De La Chanson in Athens, Greece, where his romantic ballad performance was met with immediate success.

Throughout his career, Gusman participated in numerous prestigious international song festivals, including the World Popular Song Festival in Tokyo, Japan; Festival Internacional De la Canción in Viña del Mar, Chile; Olympiad De La Chanson in Athens, Greece; Alexandria International Song Festival in Alexandria, Egypt; Castlebar International Song Festival in Castlebar, Ireland; Cavan International Song Festival in Cavan, Ireland; Istanbul International Song Festival in Istanbul, Turkey; Festival Menschen und Meer in Rostock, East Germany; and Festival Golden Orpheus in Slantchev Bryag, Bulgaria. His major achievement was winning the coveted ‘First Prize’ at the Golden Orpheus Festival in Bulgaria. He was also voted Best Foreign Artist at the Cavan International Song Festival in Ireland and declared Best Interpreter at the Istanbul International Song Festival in Turkey.

photo: Facebook

Gusman wrote and composed many of his own songs, which remain popular in Malta and among the Maltese diaspora. He won the Malta Song Festival multiple times, with notable victories in 1974 with "Paċi fid-Dinja" (Peace on Earth) and in 1976 with "Sing Your Song Country Boy." Despite these successes, Malta withdrew from the Eurovision Song Contest on both occasions before he could perform internationally. He competed unsuccessfully in the Malta Song for Europe a further seven times but found success in over 20 international song festivals.

In addition to his singing career, Gusman was a well-known radio and television personality. He began broadcasting with Rediffusion in 1969, presenting The Italian Hit Parade weekly, and later hosted the popular radio show "Bejn il-Ħbieb" (Between Friends). He emigrated to Canada in December 1979, continuing his banking career while also being a regular broadcaster on CHIN Radio Toronto. Returning to Malta in 1991, he resumed his work as a singer and broadcaster, performing in various entertainment venues and continuing his beloved radio show on different stations, including Xandir Malta, Bay Radio, PBS, Radio 101, Calypso Radio, and Radju Malta.

photo: Facebook

Enzo Gusman was also an avid campaigner for blood donation, writing the song "Agħtini Pinta Oħra" (Give Another Pint) to promote the cause. He was passionate about the Maltese language and heritage, urging fellow broadcasters to uphold high standards of spoken Maltese on air. Additionally, he performed in local dramas and musicals, further cementing his status as a versatile entertainer.

Enzo Gusman was awarded the Midalja Għall-Qadi tar-Repubblika in 2008 for his contributions to entertainment and broadcasting. In September 2021, he was honored with Gieħ l-Għanja during the year's edition of L-Għanja tal-Poplu.

photo: Facebook

Gusman was married to another popular Maltese singer, Carmen Schembri, and they had two daughters, Johanna and Greta. He was a grandfather of four and managed to spend time with his family in Canada every January and during the summer months. Many tributes poured in after his passing, with friends and colleagues remembering him as a great artist and a person who truly loved his motherland. His legacy lives on through his music and the indelible mark he left on the Maltese cultural landscape.

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