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Georgia on My Mind

 Georgia 
        on My Mind

Georgia’s
voice combines the softness and vulnerability of
Astrud Gilberto, the passion of Elis Regina, and the power of
Marisa Monte. If you think you’re tough, listen to her
CD first, and then try to tell me it’s not a tearjerker.
Make sure you have a box of tissues on hand.
by:
Melinda Wong

 

It’s
one of those Fridays. I, a sleep-deprived allergy suffering wreck—your
typical American—stagger into the house, and after stubbing my
toe, dump the mail on floor. I look down to find that Georgia Barretto
has sent me her CD, Sensibilidade.

After
putting the CD in the player, I drop to the floor like a buffalo that’s
just been shot.

Then
HARK, it’s Georgia’s passionate voice, riding on a sultry bossa
beat. It’s depressing. It’s uplifting. All together beautiful; it’s
the type of poetry that can make you drunk with melancholy.

The
remarkable quality about her music is the balance of pain and strength.
There’s her voice—delicate, almost crying, and so light it’s almost
shaky, and then balancing it is the strength in her guitar.

"You
sing with so much pain," I tell her.

"[Music
was] the only way I could free myself from that abuse because when you
finally realize you can build something, then you can recreate your
life and you can recreate yourself,"

Two
of the songs on her CD, "Sensibilidade" and "Vegas"
were written just after the Northridge earthquakes, in the Los Angeles
area, in January 1994, shook her life apart. She had just had two miscarriages,
her best friend committed suicide, and the shaking brought back memories
of childhood abuse. Finally she just drove off with her guitar and a
few blankets. Just like that; to Las Vegas.

"I
always felt like I was a very sensible person," she says, starting
to get maudlin. "What’s more important? What do people worry most
in life? Are they going to be safe? Are they going to be alive? For
me, that was a daily worry. Growing up in Brazil, it was are you going
to be able to buy things? Because the next day prices had tripled. Are
you going to be able to speak out?"

"In
Brazil the only way to be able to express yourself is through art,"
which is how she coped with a "country that plays games with us
daily. Lies, lies, lies, daily lies."

As
we both start to get a little misty, she explains that even life in
the U.S. was hard. After moving from Los Angeles to Utah, she describes
life as a foreign, single-mother of three as "ten times harder"
in regards to racial and gender discrimination. That’s what Sensibilidade
is about: survival.

Though
many critics have labeled her as a bossa nova singer or another
Sade, there’s an audible distinction. Her unique guitar sounds combine
subtle bossa nova rhythms with strong influences from classical
Spanish guitar. It pulls influences from jazz, pop, classical, bossa
nova, and Carnaval music.

Her
voice combines the best of some of the famous Brazilian female singers:
the softness and vulnerability of Astrud Gilberto, the passion of Elis
Regina, and the power of Marisa Monte.

Her
saudade is the inverse of bossa nova saudade. Bossa
nova creates the wistful feelings of saudade by first creating
joy and beauty, and then the sadness knowing that it will pass. Georgia
first creates the pain and sadness and then comes the beauty
and awe.

When
I listen to Georgia I picture a little girl strumming her guitar and
feeling homesick, but not quite sure where home really is. It makes
me feel like it’s Sunday. And if you think you’re tough, listen to her
CD first, and then try to tell me it’s not a tearjerker. Make sure you
have a box of tissues on hand.

Georgia’s
music is like a glass of cool lemonade on a hot summer’s day: sour when
you sip it, but sweet at the bottom.

 

Georgia
Barretto’s CD Sensibilidade is available at her website,
www.georgiabarretto.com


Melinda Wong is a jazz junky and college bum. Email her at pumpkin362@yahoo.com
 


Georgia Barretto can be reached by visiting her website, www.georgiabarretto.com

 

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