It was a gloomy, cool afternoon last June
22nd when Bahia pop diva Daniela Mercury took the stage at
Central Park's Summerstage as her North American tour reached New York City. Brazilian Daniela, 38, is immensely
popular in her native land, and has been touring regularly in the U.S. and other countries every summer since 1999. The
only exception was 2001 when her dates were canceled here due to the events of 9/11.
The opener was DJ Marlboro, but he was not very well received by the audience, who booed him as he used
the mixing table. He ignored them and went on unfazed. Marlboro, who is big on the Rio funk scene, ignored the
boos and went on with his work. The
Cariocas (Rio natives) present, however, felt less than thrilled.
"Most of the people here are from the northeast of Brazil, and they do not appreciate him," said Murilo, a
native of Rio de Janeiro. "I do think though, that the crowd has been disrespectful to the artist."
Vitor, also from Rio, felt the same. "We would never boo anyone from another state, but this northeastern
crowd has been very disrespectful."
When Daniela finally hit the stage at around 4:30 PM, she opened with
Appliance), a track from her live album of the same name, which has been available in the U.S. since last spring. The
crowd cheered with appreciation, and she then tore into
"Mutante" (Mutant), which was the opener for last year's tour,
when she appeared at The Brazilian day Festival in Manhattan last September.
"Mutante", originally recorded in the
eighties by its composer, Rita Lee, was also considered Song of the Year in a Brazilian critics' poll last year.
Daniela kept the energy level high at all times, not letting the rain-soaked audience take a single breath.
Everyone danced non-stop, and the only interruption came when the emotional-sounding singer (prompted by the huge
number of Brazilian flags in revelers' hands) said "Brazil loves you, and we want you all back."
The response was a long, heartfelt ovation.
"There are so many people who don't feel at home abroad but that, for a reason or another, have felt
compelled to leave", she told me during a backstage interview after the show. "So I feel somewhat representing home
by bringing a message to those true survivors."
The 90-minute set went on without a hitch. Upon the highlights was a tropicalized cover of "It Ain't Over Till
It's Over," the Lenny Kravitz tune that was a hit a few years back (the only English-language song in the whole
show). Another great moment that connected well with the crowd was when she sang Caetano Veloso's "Você Não
Entende Nada" (You Understand Nothing), one of the biggest hits from her earlier records.
Although the crowd was numerous, they seemed to be partying in the best of their behavior. "It was a good
show, with a good audience," said Stu White, Summerstage's security coordinator. "There were a couple of
accidentsone fainting and one woman who tripped over, but nothing serious."
Ms. Mercury was also happy about it. "The San Francisco and New York gigs have been the best in the
tour so far," she said. "The atmosphere in outdoor concerts is more compatible with the feel of the show."
The sun finally came out on Monday morning. Was it nature or a parting gift from a warm creature?
Daniela's Internet address:
Ernest Barteldes is an ESL and Portuguese teacher. In addition to that, he is a freelance writer
who has regularly been contributing The Greenwich Village
Gazette since September 1999. His work has
also been published by Brazzil, The Staten Island
Advance, The Staten Island Register,
The SI Muse, The Villager, GLSSite
and other publications. He lives in Staten Island, NY. He can be reached