The Brazilian knack for making music
‘Olha que coisa mais linda, mais cheia de graça . ..´ When Tom Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes hummed this song to the beautiful Helô Pinheiro, they could never have imagined that it would travel around the world quite so spectacularly. That’s just how it is... Brazilians have a particular knack for singing verse and prose and declaring their undying love.
Brazilian music has been greatly influenced by Portugal and Africa and involved a cultural exchange with other countries over time, absorbing Italian and French operas, dances such as the waltz, the German polka, the zarzuela, bolero and habanera, and jazz from the USA.
But that ‘brave Brazilian people, good self-respecting people’ also have a very strong relationship with and a feeling for musical genres when they are produced by local artists.
Let us take you on a musical journey, by way of the musical genres, rhythms and big names of Bossa Nova, Chorinho, MPB, Samba, Forró, Axé, Rock, Sertanejo, Rap, Children’s songs and spirituals, from the great regions of the Southeast, South, Central-West, North and Northeast of Brazil.
Our journey sets out from Portugal with the ambassador for Portuguese culture Roberto Leal, and his hit ‘Tap your Foot’, which became a national craze; it showed the Portuguese could be fun, stylish and upbeat. We disembark at the Terra da Garoa theatre, and catch the ‘Trem das Onze’, with the Demônios da Garoa samba group; then we head for Marvellous City (Rio) to follow the steps of Martinho da Vila, with ‘Devagar, devagarinho’ accompanied by the best samba players of all time including: Cartola, Noel Rosa, Nelson Cavaquinho, Paulinho da Viola and Mario Lago who, with ‘much longing for Amália Rodrigues’ declare their eternal love, along with Pixinguinha who with his chorinho claimed to be very ‘Carinhoso’. We mustn’t forget the ‘young thinker’ – Gabriel - whose rap ‘Cachimbo da Paz’ (Peace Pipe) made Brazilian youth reflect on politics and society.
Up in Minas Gerais is Paula Fernandes ‘in the storehouse of art, the cradle of mining country’ and the wistful Clara Nunes, who sang and charmed with ‘the brunette of Angola with a bangle around her ankle’ or Alexandre Pires who sang that people from this region ‘have the taste of cheese and jam in their mouths, you’ll like it, honey’; and of course we mustn’t fail to mention one of the most amazing voices - Milton Nascimento - who has always said that ‘singing is finding the way into the sunlight’.Just as the sun rises for everyone, our next stop will be in Brasilia to hear Legião Urbana sing about the story of two young people ‘Eduardo and Mônica’ who fell in love despite the differences in their lifestyles.
Continuing south, we will never forget Elis Regina who taught us that ‘we are still the same and live like our parents’, and left us her legacy in the beautiful voice of her daughter Maria Rita, who followed in her mother's footsteps and sings ‘Meetings and Farewells’.
The train leaves for the North, straight for the cultural centre in
Parintins where we meet a red ox, the Boi Garantido and a blue ox, the Boi Caprichoso, whose festival involves the legends, indigenous rituals and customs of its Amazonian inhabitants. Fafá de Belém is present and sings ‘the colour of my drumming has the touch and the sound of my voice’ and what a beautiful voice! She sets the audience alight.
But for the ‘road to the big house, follow the lady!’, straight to the Northwest and a ‘people who have suffered but are happy’; Ivete Sangalo, Daniela Mercury, Maria Bethânia, Araketu, Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil get the party going. Even though we miss the late great Luiz Gonzaga and his son Gonzaguinha, hearing the beautiful song ‘My life is to walk through this country, to see if one day I will rest happy’ lifts the soul. Zé Ramalho, Alceu Valença, Geraldo Azevedo and Elba Ramalho, also made the ‘Great Encounter’ into an unforgettable moment. Next, a stop for a good ‘Barbecue and a good mate, fandango, drink and women. That’s what the old man likes and that’s what the old man wants’; dancing to a song from the backcountry to the sound of Chitãozinho e Xororó, or a Forró Pé de Serra style song with Fala Mansa and eating boiled maize, popcorn and mulled wine... Ah! Long live the festival of St John!
And for those who missed the train, the next one is Alegria. Take this opportunity, be a child again and sing ‘I want to have your company, Come and travel with me in the car.’ Vinicius and Toquinho will be sitting on the back seat, following ‘that drop of paint that drips onto the paper’, or visiting the very funny house and discovering why ‘it had no ceiling, nothing at all.’ See ‘What’s in baby’s soup’ with Palavra Cantada and the Grupo Arte Nascente ‘To seduce is to love. It’s also to carry. Part of the pain. That someone has to bear’ and to know that we are always responsible for what we seduce.After travelling this whole blessed land, we have to press on once more. There’s no better way to say farewell to this wonderful country than with Almir Sater, knowing that ‘Each of us makes their own story. And each human being holds the power to do so within them. And to be happy’.
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