Selling Passion Oprah Winfrey helps Yanni -- The musician's appearance of the talk show spurred new album sales

”I’d be lying if I said that Yanni’s new market was dominated by the male consumer,” laughs Karen Johnson, publicity director for Yanni’s suddenly much richer record label, Private Music. ”Indeed, it’s females, 18 to 40.”

Three months ago, Reflections of Passion had sold a modest 150,000 units after half a year in the New Age bin, about the same as Yanni’s previous albums. But in late November, handsome Yanni made a guest appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show (and in the pages of People) as the real-life dream lover of Linda Evans. On Oprah he and Linda held hands and explained how it was with them. Linda loves Yanni. Yanni loves Linda. Linda loves Yanni’s music. Yanni loves Linda’s wisdom. Then Yanni began to play the piano, with a spotlit Linda beaming across from him. Gentle studio breezes attempted to ruffle romantically her pretty Clairessed hair, but it was petrified with hair spray. No matter. Her eyes glistened with tears. Millions of viewers sighed.

Result? Sales of Yanni’s album tripled, and the record went gold by the end of the week. If he’d done on Oprah what he does in his ”Reflections of Passion” video — sat at the piano dripping wet in an itty-bitty swimsuit, with a ballerina draped around his neck — the album might have gone platinum.

But that would’ve been tacky. After all, Yanni is a serious artist who has played with the Dallas Symphony and the Minnesota Orchestra. There’s even a classy promotional video describing the Yanni orchestral pops experience. It not only features an aesthetically deep testimonial by the conductor who led Yanni’s Dallas debut (”Yanni’s music has more notes than Tchaikovsky!”), but also the expertise of Linda Evans herself, who asserts that Yanni’s work can serve ”as a bridge for young people to get into classical music.” Or at least for females 18 to 40.

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