Saturday, January 28, 2012

My Music Babes

As salaam alaikum,

There are a few artists, some singers/songwriters, some vocalists, whose songs or renditions of standards have functioned like the soundtrack for my life at certain times. These are my Music Babes. The lyrical loves of my life, my vocal aspirations. These artists are (or were) prolific, soulful, genius, amazing. A unique, full, gorgeous expression of the human experience. I love them!

This is minha homenagem to them.

(1) Stevland Hardaway Morris - Mr. Stevie Wonder! He is my favorite artist of all time, and always will be. Where do I begin? Probably the first song I remember of his was my mother's favorite when I was about three years old, "Part Time Lover." Did not understand a word of it, but I can still see my mother dancing around the family room of my childhood house...especially since that moment was captured on VHS, now transferred to DVD. The next song that stands out in my memory was, "Another Star," which began with a cadence that reminded me of my brother's head. For my mother, my brother's song was "All I Do." I remember her saying how beautiful "As" was when I was in high school, but I wouldn't fully appreciate Stevie until college, when I fell in love for the first time. The theme song for that love will always and forever be "Overjoyed," a song that I faintly remembered from an 80s or R&B CD collection commercial from the 90s, such that when I hear one part of the song, I think of that blue screen that they would show at the end of the commercials. Where else do I go with Stevie Wonder? "I Believe When I Fall In Love It Will Be Forever?" "Pastime Paradise?" "For Once in My Life," to go a little older? "Moon Blue," to go a little bit more contemporary? The timeless "Isn't She Lovely?" Masha'Allah! What a beautiful man!

Favorite lyrics: "We all know sometimes life's hates and troubles/ can make you wish you were born in another time and space./ But you can bet your life times that and twice its double/ that God knew exactly where He wanted you to be placed./ So next time when you say you're in it but not of it/ you're not helping to make this a place sometimes called Hell./ Change your words into Truth and then change that Truth into Love/ and maybe our children's grandchildren and their great-grandchildren will tell." - "As" (see above)

(2) Djavan Caetano Viana - Djavan! When did I first discover this musical genius, my Brazilian, seeing Stevie Wonder? I think I met him while touring Pandora sometime after I took my Brazilian history course in college. In that course, I was exposed to the song, "Haiti" by Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil from Tropicália 2. I made a station out of that, and I think songs by Djavan came up from that. The first song I really remember from him has to be "Doidice" (my upload onto youtube, gente! It wasn't there before...). I just listened to it quietly while studying during my first year of medical school, until the last verses of the song, which I recognized were in Spanish. From then commenced my absolute obsession with this song. I looked up the lyrics, translated them the best I could with my Portuguese for Spanish Speakers knowledge, ordered Bird of Paradise on CD Universe so I could own the song (since it was not available for download), opened the cover, and found the lyrics that floored me: "After I discovered that there is you, I never existed again." Damn. That was me and MTQ! I thereafter discovered that I loved Djavan as an artist in general. My favorite songs of his to sing include "Meu Bem Querer," and "Pétala." My favorite song to samba and sing to will always be "Flor de Lis," as I did many a time in my samba course. And while "Doidice" will always be my favorite, "Oceano" is I think one of his most beautiful. I'm not done learning his standards, as there are others, but this man is brilliant...Stevie Wonder agrees. They did "Samurai" together! Beautiful man in his 60s with his beautiful son, Max Viana, by his side at both concerts I went to.

Favorite lyrics: "Me apaixonei?/ Talvez, pode ser./ Enloqueci?/ Não sei, nunca vi./ Preciso sair/ depois que eu descobri que há você,/ nunca mais existi." - "Doidice" (see above)
Translated: I fell in love? Maybe, it could be. I went crazy? Don't know, I've never seen it. I need to get out. After I discovered that there is you, I never existed again.)


"Assim que o dia amanheceu lá no mar alto da paixão/ dava pra ver o tempo ruir." - "Oceano" (see above)
Translated: Now that the day has dawned there in the high tides of passion, one is able to see time ruin. (So poetic!)

(3) Elis Regina Carvalho Costa - Elis Regina. Before I heard this woman's voice and knew who she was, all of my music babes had been mainly men. For this reason, my alto is the most developed, although I think I touch the range of a mezzo-soprano. Then, I hear the Portuguese version of "Corcovado" by my one of my standards, my original babes, Tom Jobim (to the point I'd consider naming one of my kids Antônio Carlos). I didn't know at the time who the female vocalist was of this song I'd heard the smokey voice of Astrud Gilberto sing in English, but I liked learning to sing along with it. She enunciated so clearly, so was gorgeous. I discovered later it was Elis. I wouldn't know about her until I traveled to Brazil, coming back from the public health center in São Paulo, turning on the small television in the pousada to the novela, "Ciranda da Pedra," and hearing Elis belt out "Redescobrir," which was the theme of the novela. I still get saudades when I see that opening...that was my first taste of Brazil, as I barely ate in those first few days, nervous as I was that I was in a country where I didn't really speak the language. And in a way, my finding Elis was really a rediscovery, because she died in 1982, before I was born and 26 years before I would know any of her music. But her vocal interpretations of Brazilian standards, which got her credited as creating Música Popular Brasileira, inspired me in ways that a female singer never had. I found myself aspiring to her range, her passion, her soul. I laughed with her in "Vou Deitar e Rolar," and "Canto de Ossanha." I danced gently over her enunciation in "Só Tinha de Ser Com Você," which I have vowed will be a lullaby for my children. I fell in love forever after uniquely with her interpretation of "Aguas de Março," my favorite song of all time, as well as Brazil's. And I will always be blown away and forever grateful for her rendition of a song I had known for years from Pandora, but never like this: "O Trem Azul." There are so much more of Elis I've yet to learn and hear, but with "O Trem Azul," I get a little taste of what it means for there to be life after death.

Favorite Vocals: "O Trem Azul," when she sings along with the electric guitar. Or, just listen to the song A Capella.

These are three artists whose music I have a lot of and never tire of, the songwriters and singers of the soundtracks of my life. I fell in love with MTQ over "Overjoyed," and it faded away with "Doidice." And B went away with "O Trem Azul." Just a few examples. Beautiful people with a most beautiful gift from God! Masha'Allah!

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