Anyone who travels to Brazil can feel their love of music– it’s everywhere, and it’s infectious. Brazilian music is complex and diverse, varying from one part of the country to another and reflecting its many influences, most notably African drumming beats. Though it’s hard to do Brazilian music any justice in a blog post, I hope to introduce you to some of Brazil’s best music in a series of posts over the few months.
I’ll never forget the first few times I was introduced to Brazilian music. It was the summer of 1999, and I had just met my future husband. It started with impromptu drumming sessions among João and his friends, using for instruments empty soda cans and anything else that made a noise. Their rhythm was incredible. They drummed and sang with abandon, making real music out of nothing, and all the while I kept thinking, “Oh God, please don’t ask me to join in…I’ll just make a fool of myself.” Well, they didn’t ask me to join in; it was their thing, their Brazilian thing, a way of connecting with what is possibly the most important part of their culture while living in Iowa, so far away from the beats of their homeland.
It didn’t take me long to get hooked, and I’ve been surrounded by that music since then. Just yesterday I heard those rhythms coming from my living room, this time with my two little boys playing percussion while João sang and played guitar. However, putting my personal connection to Brazilian music aside, I can honestly say that it just might be the richest music in the world (and ignore any Brazilian “music” you might see on one of their unfortunate Sunday variety shows). My life would be a bit more empty without it– the voices, the poetry, the enormous variety of instruments, the swaying beats of Bossa Nova and the way everyone smiles during a samba.
This first post is about my two favorites: Marisa Monte and Tribalistas.
Tribalistas is the collaboration of 3 stars coming together, each bringing their unique talents. Marisa Monte is from Rio and is simply awesome (see more below). Arnaldo Antunes is a favorite of my husband’s– they’re from the same neighborhood in São Paulo, and we have several CDs and books autographed by him. He’s a poet and an unusual singer but well-known and respected for his quirky music and low voice. Carlinhos Brown is from Bahia and is one of the most famous percussionists in Brazil. Together they are brilliant. The DVD of them making the album is a joy; if you ever see it for sale for a decent price (it’s too expensive on Amazon), buy it! It’s worth it.
I love Marisa Monte. I love her voice, her style, and her confidence. I saw her live in San Francisco, and she was fantastic. Her two most recent albums (Infinito Particular and Universo ao Meu Redor, a samba album) are a good place to start if you’re new to her. Barulinho Bom, a CD and DVD of one of her concerts and a series of collaborations with well-known Brazilian musicians, is also great. She’s taken a few years off since having a child but will have a new album out soon.
Marisa loves to collaborate with other musicians. Here she is singing one of Carlinhos Brown’s songs with him drumming (from Barulinho Bom).
And here she is singing one of Arnaldo Antunes’s songs with him: