Who Needs a Camera?

Who Needs a Camera?

I’m originally from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and always loved poetry, singing, dancing, and the Arts.  My mom knew that very well and she gave me an acoustic guitar for Christmas in 1983 when she was very sick.  In February 1984 she passed away due to a neuropathy similar to Multiple Sclerosis that had also taken her mom and brothers’ life. I was devastated but relieved after eight years of suffering. 

Around that time I got a call inviting me to join a musical band. The person online had already called my house and my auntie had suggested to call me back in a month. She did the right thing. At that time I felt I had no reason to be alive. So, when the man called me again, I accepted the invitation. That week, my godfather’s wife had said something I never forgot: “Your life will blossom beautifully from now on. Believe me.” And I did. 

I joined a theatrical rock group called O Espírito da Coisa that literally means “The Spirit of the Thing.” My nickname was Katita, a term of endearment. 

Around 1986, the band flew to Manaus, the capital of the Amazon state. I was so excited I bought a camera to make sure I’d remember that trip! 

I recall getting off the plane and feeling the pores of my skin filling with water from the extreme humidity. I had never sweat so much in my life. At the entrance of the airport there was a man made lake with turtles and alligators.  Snap! Snap! Humidity was 86% plus. It’s like Florida if you’ve been there.  I was amazed that the air conditioner of the hotel was always on. 

Our show was part of a political party campaign and was scheduled to start in the afternoon at a place where the Solimões and Negro rivers meet, forming the Amazon river. Wow! Snap! Snap! Snap!

 I was surprised to see so many people and motorboats at that place. The day before the presentation we had the opportunity to tour the area and see the clear line dividing the pale-sandy color of the Solimões from the Rio Negro (Black river.) It was there that I saw a pink dolphin for the first time. Snap! They are called “Boto” and are the largest river dolphins in the world. What a magical site. From the black waters I saw that shining pink skin jump out of the river and play.  Snap! Snap! I also saw some piranha fish, and learned they are not as scary as we think they are, even though their teeth make you think they are. Snap!

When the show time arrived we went on in our bikinis and trunks.  Around 5pm the rain came down, strongly refreshing us all. “Show is over,” we said to ourselves when the sound engineer and assistants quickly covered the speakers and equipment with pieces of plastic. But the tropical rains during December and May come and go quickly and in less that ten minutes we were back playing and singing.  

 It was an incredible trip to me. Not only because the place was so amazingly lush and beautiful, but also because I was visiting part of my mom’s history. You see, she was born in Portugal and her father and brothers worked as fishermen. The fishing boats used to come close to the coast of Brazil, and when my grandma died, my granddad moved the family to Manaus to try a better life. Yes, the immigrant blood is in my veins. My mom went to a Catholic boarding school until she was 18 years old, and even thought to become a nun. But, eventually she moved to the South to live with one of her brothers in Rio de Janeiro.  It was there that she met my dad in the late 1950’s, married, and my sister and I were born. 

 But, going back to the Amazon, the next day of that show we went for a trip through the “igarapés.” “Igarapé” is a route navigable only by canoe.  If I remember well, we were using two canoes with guides.  The noise of the motor was an endless distraction while navigating through the wide portion of the river, but as soon as we entered the narrow passageways the guides turned off the engine, and that’s when the magic started. I heard the silence of the jungle and we stopped chatting. The canoe kept moving among the trees rooted in the river water and time stood still… birds singing, frogs croaking, the water moving, the call of animals here and there, the air touching my sweaty body… I couldn’t explain what I was experiencing. Had I been there before? Snap…

After awhile our guide brought us to a small tree house where a family lived in the middle of nowhere. We were introduced to a “preguiça,” a sloth that was hanging on a tree trunk. She was climbing the tree but her movements were sooo slow I couldn’t see it. Snap! Snap!

Then, a little girl showed me the pet of the house: a very small monkey that was chained to a wood pole. OMG, why was it chained in the middle of that vast jungle? He was a tinny creature that moved me very deeply. He looked into my eyes like a human being would, and suddenly I saw myself.  Snap! His piercing eyes stayed with me all these years. 

When I went back to Rio and opened my luggage I realized the camera was gone. But I found out later that my biggest camera was my mind and my heart. 

 

 

 

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Creating the 2019 Brazilian Heart Celebration!

This is one of the most exciting times of the year for me. In 2012 I’ve created a show to celebrate the lives of Brazilian singer/songwriters. In 2014, after Maria Bethânia’s celebration, I made the decision to transform it into a musical, and since then the magical show includes more than a dozen Brazilian artists celebrating International Women’s Day.

Researching to write the script of the Brazilian Heart Celebration is like a puzzle. This year’s theme kept changing in my mind until all seemed to focus and make complete sense. In the beginning I wanted to celebrate 50 years of 1969, so I found out about the Brazilian hit parade of that year. Then, the political vibe of the present moment pushed me towards songs of protest and change in Brasil and the US. I read many books. 33 Revolutions Per Minute, Marching for Freedom about MLKJr, Gilberto Bem Perto about Gilberto Gil, and many biographies. I watched DVDs about Woodstock, Harry Belafonte and the Civil Rights Movement, Caetano and Gil’s exile in London, interviews with Belchior, Geraldo Vandré, documentaries about Woody Guthrie’s life, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, and the music festivals in Brasil. After awhile, my brain usually mixes everything and I don’t know how to start. Then, I go through a restless period waking up in the middle of the night with vivid ideas of connections among composers, stories, and transition songs. Finally a light bulb comes on! Here we are: Songs of Protest and Change plus Honoring Gilberto Gil.

Since 2012 the show also celebrate the International Women’s Day. This year I invited singers Diana Purim and Emina Shimanuki, bassist Poliana Magalhães (just arrived from Portugal,) and drummer Ana Barreiro. I also invited Kanami (Kanushka, my Russian sister) to be our Vocal Director. I strongly believe in the power of group energy so artists stay on stage during the whole show. Nothing more intense than 12 women singing, playing, and acting with open hearts.

The moment is definitely asking for revisiting our acts of social and political change through music. Each singer will be singing two solo tunes, one in English and one in Portuguese. I suggested historical songs and after they were chosen, I worked on the stories and quotes around them, adding transition songs as well. My friend and actress Mariana Leite collaborated with me.

For many years I wanted to pay homage to singer/songwriter and Tropicália master Gilberto Gil. I admire him immensely and had the honor of opening his show at the House of Blues in Hollywood many years ago with my old band Sambaguru (thank you, Tita Lima.) When I went to see his duet with Caetano Veloso two years ago in downtown Los Angeles, I finally felt it was time to pay homage to him. Gil is a philosopher and a visionary. It was not hard to choose some of his songs, but I was left with the feeling that I would miss not playing many more.

I remember watching Gil at Canecão (show place now gone) in Rio about 30 years ago. The audience asked him to come back on stage three times. When he returned for the last time he said: “I’m getting old, guys,” and then laughed. What a charming and loving man. In his manners, words and actions.

Every year I invite new artists who besides being talented, are also kind and supportive. It’s fundamental that they enjoy sharing their craft and emotions with each other. I think this cast trust my ideas and opinions as well. The theme made us open up and face different political opinions, what I consider a great opportunity to practice compassion. The show requires one meeting to read the script and two musical rehearsals. I consider this experience a miracle!

Another miracle is to find sponsors who believe in your vision. I’m blessed for I’ve found some angels! The sponsors come in all shapes and forms. First, Marcia Argolo and Jorge Vismara who are with me since 2012. They open their home with smiles and excitement, take pictures, listen and also feed us! No words to thank them. Peter Lownds is always there when I need a translation or an English version, besides helping us with our pronunciation, and appearing on stage as well. Deborah Edler-Brown (who had been part of two celebrations with us) was so kind in correcting and suggesting changes to the press release.

Another couple of angels are Dolores and David Mead, who take care of the lease of the theater. This year Dolores invited two other couples to share the costs of it. Friends helping friends. :-)

And finally, thank you to Miriam Pellegrino of Ubatuba Açaí (present since 2017), Odete Pashaie of Brasilian Blow Dray Hair Salon (thank you, Sonia,) Judy Mitoma (who understands the importance of a helping hand after many years producing The World Sacred Music Festival,) John Crahan (who always shares links of Amy Goodman and Democracy Now with me,) Bengi and Peter (Turkey and Belgium represented), Mandy and John (East coast supporters,) Melinda Kelly (I call her Mel=honey), Paula and Phil Glosserman (Phil was part of the Brazilian Heart group I started in 1998), Cecilia Noel (my Peruvian sister who I had the honor of sharing the stage in my beginning years in Los Angeles), Suzanne Alpert (you never forget who visits you when you go to a hospital,) and Nicole Wesley, a lawyer who loves to support the Arts and showed up at the last minute by the hands of Sarah Pontes. And last but not least, my husband Neal Barbera with whom I learn every day.

A successful performance is a product of sweat, talent, luck plus joy and respect among all involved. I’ve been at fault thanking every supporter for my memory fails once in awhile with the responsibilities my dream entitles. So, let me take the opportunity to thank Brasil Brasil Cultural Center (Amen and Nayla Santo), Ana Laidley (the best samba teacher and therapist ever!), Soul Brasil (Lindbergh Junior and Magali), Ana from the Brazilian Consulate, Maggie Lalique, Sergio and Sasha (KPFK FM), Patricia and Tatiana, Thiago Barreiro, Maria Alice Jacob, Viver Brasil Dance Company (Linda Yudin and Badaró), Beto Gonzalez and Samba Society, Bob Easton, Thalma de Freitas, Fabiano do Nascimento, Simon, Fabio, Bill Brendle, Flavio Medeiros, Isaías Elpes, Clarice Cast, Felipe Fraga, Antonio de Sat’Anna, Leo Costa, Mitchell Long, Ted Falcon, Catina deLuna, Anna Beatriz, Mariana Goulart, JP Mourão, Carla Hassett, Mi Medrado, Maria Jacob, Caro Pierotto, and every artist who I collaborated with in the previous celebrations. I’m forever grateful.

If you still didn’t get your ticket, do it now. Witnessing magical moments do wonders to the soul. CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS

Thank you, for taking the time to read this story. Each one of us love what we do, and I’m sure you will feel it on Saturday, March 2nd.

Our first meeting to read the script of the show, take a picture together and set musical rehearsal times. From left to right: Diana Purim, Sonia Santos, Natalia Spadini, Kanami, Mariana Leite, Ana Gazzola, Katia Moraes, Emina Shimanuki, Poliana Magalhães, Liz Kinnon, Ana Barreiro, Nando Duarte and Marcele Berger.

Our first meeting to read the script of the show, take a picture together and set musical rehearsal times. From left to right: Diana Purim, Sonia Santos, Natalia Spadini, Kanami, Mariana Leite, Ana Gazzola, Katia Moraes, Emina Shimanuki, Poliana Magalhães, Liz Kinnon, Ana Barreiro, Nando Duarte and Marcele Berger.

Marcelo Berger, Poliana Magalhães (just arrived from Portugal,) Ana Barreiro (joining us again after appearing in 2016,) Peter Lownds, Diana Purim (first time with us,) and pianist Liz Kinnon (who always have a supporting word to offer.)

Marcelo Berger, Poliana Magalhães (just arrived from Portugal,) Ana Barreiro (joining us again after appearing in 2016,) Peter Lownds, Diana Purim (first time with us,) and pianist Liz Kinnon (who always have a supporting word to offer.)

Ana Gazzola and Sonia Santos. Supporters and part of the cast since 2016!

Ana Gazzola and Sonia Santos. Supporters and part of the cast since 2016!

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Photo of the flyer taken by my friend Cezar Santana many years ago at the Southernmost point of the USA. Key West is 90 miles from Cuba. I thought this image was perfect for “Songs of Protest and Change.”

Photo of the flyer taken by my friend Cezar Santana many years ago at the Southernmost point of the USA. Key West is 90 miles from Cuba. I thought this image was perfect for “Songs of Protest and Change.”

2017 Brazilian Heart Celebration honoring Tom Jobim and Ella Fitzgerald. With Catina DeLuna, Ana Gazzola, Anna Bea, Sonia Santos, Kanami, Mariana Leite, Natalia Spadini, Clarice Cast, and Liz Kinnon,

2017 Brazilian Heart Celebration honoring Tom Jobim and Ella Fitzgerald. With Catina DeLuna, Ana Gazzola, Anna Bea, Sonia Santos, Kanami, Mariana Leite, Natalia Spadini, Clarice Cast, and Liz Kinnon,

2018 Brazilian Heart Celebration honoring Immigrants and Jacob do Bandolim.

2018 Brazilian Heart Celebration honoring Immigrants and Jacob do Bandolim.

Ted Falcon bringing Jacob do Bandolim to life in 2018.

Ted Falcon bringing Jacob do Bandolim to life in 2018.

2016 Brazilian Heart Celebration honoring Rita Lee. From left: Kanami, Deborah Edler Brown, JP Mourão, Mariana Goulart, Ana Gazzola, Carla Hassett, Ana Laidley, Katia Moraes, Sonia Santos, Mariana Leite, Caro Pierotto and Ana Barreiro.

2016 Brazilian Heart Celebration honoring Rita Lee. From left: Kanami, Deborah Edler Brown, JP Mourão, Mariana Goulart, Ana Gazzola, Carla Hassett, Ana Laidley, Katia Moraes, Sonia Santos, Mariana Leite, Caro Pierotto and Ana Barreiro.

The t-shirt! It’s a tradition since 2016. The names of the cast on the back.

The t-shirt! It’s a tradition since 2016. The names of the cast on the back.

With Peter Lownds during 2015 Brazilian Heart Celebration honoring Noel Rosa.

With Peter Lownds during 2015 Brazilian Heart Celebration honoring Noel Rosa.

During 2014 Brazilian Heart Celebration honoring Maria Bethânia.

During 2014 Brazilian Heart Celebration honoring Maria Bethânia.

The beginning: 2012 Brazilian Heart Celebration honoring Elis Regina. From left: Marcia Argolo, Nayla and Amem with baby daughter, yours truly and Jorge Vismara @ Brasil Brasil Cultural Center.

The beginning: 2012 Brazilian Heart Celebration honoring Elis Regina. From left: Marcia Argolo, Nayla and Amem with baby daughter, yours truly and Jorge Vismara @ Brasil Brasil Cultural Center.

Part of the 2019 cast: Ana Gazzola, Katia Moraes, Kanami, Diana Purim, Marcele Berger, Emina Shimanuki, Natalia Spadini and Sonia Santos.

Part of the 2019 cast: Ana Gazzola, Katia Moraes, Kanami, Diana Purim, Marcele Berger, Emina Shimanuki, Natalia Spadini and Sonia Santos.

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My Musical and Poetic Way to Scream!

Today is Brasil's Independence Day, and a perfect day to release Motivo. The song came out of my frustration with the Brazilian politics, and was the first song I composed in my ukulele. I showed it to Nando Duarte who graciously played in it, arranged and produced it. Coincidentally, on the day of the recording, my friend and flutist Rebecca Kleinman from San Francisco was in Los Angeles.  Nando created weaving flute lines on the spot, added Clarice Cast on percussion, and I laid down the vocals. All came to life in an afternoon in Santa Monica. 

The photo is by Caesar Lima.

Listen here! 

Lyrics:

É, tenho motivos pra gritar

Sim, tenho motivos pra gritar

Mãe, tenho motivos pra gritar

 

Uma torrente enorme de tanta notícia

Mentiras abafadas, sobra covardia

Quem era tão Valente agora tem azia

Eu vejo o acanhamento dessa gente pia

Dando grana a Deus por uma ideologia

 

O Moro, a Dilma, o Temer e o Lula na cozinha

E o cozinheiro Cunha na patifaria

E o louco do twitter na selvageria

De primeiro mundo sem diplomacia

 

Tenho motivos...

Posso ficar aqui e reclamar da vida

Apavorar o povo e zombar da política

Agonizar na raiva e na antipatia

Mas não votei no homem e creio na alegria

De quem vê beleza nessa cantoria

 

Pre ser honesta sofro de um medo ancestral

Um mal que atinge a todo ser sentimental

Essa paúra aumenta quanto mais recuo

Eu sonho com penhasco enquanto encaro um muro

 

Se você não viu, nem aprendeu meu bem, então

Só vai repetir essa estrada cheia de ilusão

Que tal começar? Recriar a tal revolução? 

Na minha opinião, ela começa aqui no coração.

I updated the second verse towards the end of 2018:

Você e eu e todo mundo na cozinha

E na panela um monstro em banho-maria

Nós todos no debate da selvageria

Gentileza morta, vã diplomacia

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Musicale in the Making by Kátia Moraes

Musicale in the Making by Kátia Moraes

Scene from the 7th Brazilian Heart Celebration at Kelman Theatre in Venice, California. From left: Natalia Spadini, Thalma de Freitas, Mariana Leite, Marcele Berger, Ana Gazzola, Nana Nuki, and Sonia Santos. 

Mistureba (Hodgepodge)

Mistureba (Hodgepodge)

 

 It has been an incredible journey since I moved to Los Angeles from Rio de Janeiro. I'm grateful and honored to have composed, recorded, and performed with generous and talented people with whom I've learned so much.

 

In reality, though, musicians are not the only artists who have enriched my life.

 

At the end of 2012, I started a nightly practice of drawing. Those drawings brought me to meet a special woman named Nancy Young from a non-profit called Art Trek, Inc.  Nan became my mentor, and she introduced me to one of the most fun ways to draw: blind contour. Blind contour drawing is a drawing exercise where an artist draws the contour of a subject without looking at the paper. In May 2017, during a trip to southern Florida, and after I had recorded two new songs in LA, I colored and decorated 15 blind contour drawings of my musician friends and decided to make a collection. The emotional abstract drawings made me see myself in my peers. With that in mind, I decided to combine the release of the new songs: “Mistureba” and “Arranhado,” with a drawing exhibition called, “Portraits of Peers – Me in Them.”

 

 

Mistureba is Brazilian slang and means “hodgepodge.” In this song I say I'm a mix of all human beings who came before me and the people who crossed my life so far. They all speak inside of me, from ancestors to teachers, friends, and even not so friendly human beings. 

 

"Who told me to quiet down? To get married, to wash and iron?

Who told me money would only bring me loneliness? 

Who told me to fight? Who told me to pray?

Who told me to go out there and make this world a better place so it would reflect back into my life? They all speak inside of me.

Endlessly."

 

 I want to dedicate Mistureba to my family, friends, peers, and to whomever takes the time to be mindful and heartfelt – the basic steps to courageously change the inner world and, consequently, the outer world.

 

 I'd be very happy if you would join me on Sunday, September 24 at 8:30pm @ Blue Whale in downtown Los Angeles for a live show + drawing exhibition!

It'll feature João Pedro Mourão on guitar, Isaías Elpes on bass, Uziel Colón on keys, and Felipe Fraga on drums.

Special guests: Ted Falcon on mandolin, Nando Duarte on 7-string guitar, Clarice Cast on percussion, and actress Mariana Leite. 

Yes, I love surprises.

And I promise one for you.

Let's hug and kiss.  Live. ;-)

 

P.S.: The Mistureba video will be released on August 24. Stay tuned!

 

Blue Whale - Weller Court Plaza 3rd floor

123 Astronaut E S Onizuka St. Suite.301

Los Angeles, CA 90012  bluewhalemusic.com  

(213) 620-0908

 

Me in Me

Inspiration - Brazilian Heart 2017

Here I am, looking at some of the books above my desk while writing to you... I LOVE reading autobiographies. It's a great opportunity to learn about our human condition. The stories inside of the stories inspire me to create the annual shows for the Brazilian Heart series, and bring wisdom and compassion into my life. 

I feel blessed for reading in Portuguese and English, and wish I could read in other languages. It takes a long time to grasp the details of a culture; the desires and behavior of human beings born in a different country. Said that, it was very exciting to know a little bit about Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald this winter, in preparation for writing the script of Brazilian Heart, a Celebration in collaboration with Mariana Leite and Deborah Edler-Brown. I also reviewed fases of Tom Jobim's life (he would be 90 years old this year), and added moving stories and quotes of all these artists among songs written by Cole Porter, Ivan, Lins, George and Ira Gershwin, Chico Buarque, Duke Ellington and Bob Russell, Dori Caymmi, and many other composers. The artists' words enchanted not only non-English speaking people from the audience, but the original people of this land who had the opportunity to be reminded how powerful their culture is, and what an important role they (we all) play in each other's life. 

It's a miracle how we pull together these shows with just one general meeting and two musical rehearsals. What a blessing to make magic on stage! And speaking about magic and miracle, the biggest one this year, was the presence of soulful dancer Laila Abdullah substituting my friend Nagodê who got injured. Lailah brought the soul of 1930's dance to the stage and embodied Ella Fitzgerald's early desire to express herself.  Like I said on the scene created to pay homage to Ella's Centennial: 

"One day I woke up and everything made sense. Ella is "she" in Portuguese. She wanted to dance and ended singing. Lucky us." 

 

Just finished Rita Lee, uma autobiografia! 

Just finished Rita Lee, uma autobiografia! 

Thank you one more time to my talented friends Ana Gazzola, Anna Beatriz, Catina DeLuna, Clarice Cast, Deborah Edler-Brown, Nana Nuki, Mariana Leite, Liz Kinnon, Marcele Berger, Natalia Spadini, Sonia Santos, Lailah Abdullah, Jorge Vismara, and Marcia Argolo. 

Thank you one more time to my talented friends Ana Gazzola, Anna Beatriz, Catina DeLuna, Clarice Cast, Deborah Edler-Brown, Nana Nuki, Mariana Leite, Liz Kinnon, Marcele Berger, Natalia Spadini, Sonia Santos, Lailah Abdullah, Jorge Vismara, and Marcia Argolo. 

A Celebration of the Brazilian Heart

A Celebration of the Brazilian Heart

Kátia sits down with scholar-artist Anna B. Scott to talk about future and past of Brazilian Heart, A celebration, opening at the Electric Lodge on March 3, 2017.