Sounds of Brazilian Afro-pop at J’s Bar
6 days ago, 16:07
One of the finest contemporary Brazilian singers will be in Nairobi next week for a performance that will highlight the strong bonds that her country’s music shares with African rhythms.
Luedji Luna a sultry singer and composer from the city of Salvador, Bahia State, will be performing at a single concert in Nairobi on December 16. The performance will be a showcase of African influence on Brazilian culture with a style that is a fusion of Brazilian popular music, jazz and Afro rhythms. The links to Africa are very deliberate; close to 90 per cent of the population in Salvador identifies itself as Afro-Brazilian (black and mixed race).
Almost 500 years ago, Salvador was the first slave port in the Americas, the destination for most Africans taken from what is now Ghana, Benin and Nigeria. That African imprint is till stamped on the music of Salvador particularly Axé the popular music genre that is rooted in West African percussions and influenced by the rhythms of Caribbean, like calypso and reggae.
Brazilian musicians draw inspiration and utilise themes from African culture, religion and symbols.
The music of Bahia received international attention in 1996 when Michael Jackson filmed the video for the song “They Don’t Really Care About Us” in a historic neighbourhood of Salvador in collaboration with the Afro-Brazilian percussion group, Olodum.
Luedji was born in 1987, in a quilombo (a community founded by people of African origin, mostly runaway slaves). She started her career as a member of the Bando Cumate, a collective that promotes the traditional manifestations of Brazilian culture.
Luedji is the co-founder of Palavra Preta, a musical and art show that gathers black female composers from all over Brazil. The event started in her home region before she took the successful show to the capital, Brasilia.
One of the shows in the Brazilian capital was held during the Latinidades festival, the biggest black woman festival in Latin America.
Since 2015, Luedji has been performing in Sao Paulo and her work has won a host of awards in Brazil, including Most Promising Artist at the Bravo Awards, WME Award in the Best Album and Best Singer categories this year.
She won the fourth edition of the Premio Afro Award (National Afro-Brazilian Expression Awards) for her album “Um corpo no mundo” and was nominated for three awards at the Cayami Music Awards.
Luedji will be playing in Nairobi alongside Kenyan guitarist Kato Change who was among the musicians who played on her album “Um Corpo no Mundo” (A Body in the Word) released in October 2017. The two musicians met during an Artist residency in Sacatar, Brazil in 2017 and she has invited Kato back to Brazil twice, for the recording of her album and the promotional tour across several states in Brazil two months ago.
“My collaboration with Luedji has introduced me to Brazilian rhythms and helped me gain an understanding of how they relate to African music,” says Kato.
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