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Batalá DC performs at the Library of Congress, July 2023. Photo credit: Claudia Morales

Brazil de Mis Amores

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If there is a country that many South Americans love, it is Brazil. Its popular music and culture extend across its borders, offering a universal and common language for festiveness, as well as closeness and inner feelings.  Brazilian music has also inspired and influenced American music and culture, which is evident in the National Recording Registry’s addition of two Brazilian songs in 2004 and 2008.

When thinking about 20th-century Brazilian music, two styles come to mind: Samba and Bossa Nova.  Samba, which originated in the Afro-Brazilian communities of the State of Bahia, has different styles, including Samba de Roda, recognized as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.  In 2008, the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress added “O Que e que a Bahiana tem”(1939), a song performed by Brazilian singer and actor Carmen Miranda (1909-1955) and composed by Brazilian singer and songwriter Dorival Caymmi (1914-2008).  Miranda is credited as the Brazilian artist who introduced Samba to American audiences through her music and acting career on Broadway. She made “O Que e que a Bahiana tem” a staple of Brazilian culture. You can listen to the song on your favorite streaming service.

In the 1990s, a different style of Samba, Samba Batucada took over South America.  Growing up in Lima, Peru, I remember jumping to the dance floor when I heard Batucada.  This Samba style is heavy on percussion, whistle, and repetition. It didn’t matter if you knew how to dance it; your feet would move fast, and the rest of your body would follow. Batucada was famous not only as a dance form in nightclubs, but also as troupes of musicians take the streets in different parts of Latin America (similar to the Second Line tradition in New Orleans).  And it didn’t stop there; currently, there are many Batucada troupes around the world, including one in Washington D.C., called Batalá DC. They performed as part of the Library of Congress Summer Concert Series in July of 2023 and in 2018. Their colorful outfits and the beating of the drumline are irresistible.

Who doesn’t know the song “Garota de Ipanema” (“The Girl from Ipanema”)? I wouldn’t say nobody, but it’s pretty close. As I recently heard songwriter Madison Love say, “Songs have many lives,” and oh boy, has this song had a long and fruitful life.  It was written in 1962 by the Brazilian composer Carlos Antônio Jobim (1927-1994), with Portuguese lyrics by Brazilian artist Vinícius de Moraes (1930-1980), and performed by Brazilian artist Astrud Gilberto (1940-2023). It became an immediate national and international hit.  American saxophonist Stan Getz (1927-1991) was impressed by their talent and invited Jobim and Brazilian musician João Gilberto (1931-2019) to record an album, “Getz/Gilberto,” which included “The Girl from Ipanema.”  João Gilberto’s strong English accent was noticed when recording the English version, and Astrud Gilberto, who was not a professional singer then, was chosen as the song’s vocalist since she was fluent in English. Astrud Gilberto became successful in her own right, recording and performing her own music.

In 1957, Jobim and de Morais wrote “Chega de Saudade” (“No More Blues”), which was the first Bossa Nova song they created. However, it was “Garota de Ipanema” (“The Girl from Ipanema”) that brought them international recognition and marked the beginning of what is now known as Brazilian Bossa Nova, meaning “New Wave.” In 2004, the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress inducted “Garota de Ipanema” (“The Girl from Ipanema”) to recognize its significance. You can listen to the song on your favorite streaming service.

Concerts from the Library of Congress is proud to continue celebrating excellence in Brazilian music by presenting multi-Grammy winning Brazilian pianist, composer, and vocalist, Eliane Elias as the opening performance of its 99th season.  Elias has collaborated with many jazz masters, including Chick Corea, Chucho Valdez, and, early in her career, Herbie Hancock, allowing her to explore double piano sets. She has released 33 albums and sold over 2.5 million. Elias has toured over 77 countries and won many awards, including two Grammys and two Latin Grammys. Elian Elias personifies a true artist’s talent, dedication, discipline, and perseverance. She comes to the Library with a special program that fuses jazz and Brazilian rhythms and sounds. For more information on Eliane Elias’s performance, visit our website at The Music Division is grateful to the Revada Foundation of the Logan Family for making Eliane Elias’ concert, and all the Library’s fall 2023 jazz concerts, possible.


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