After a decade without releasing any new music or performing secular music, Baby do Brasil is deservedly ready for the big time again – with a show in New York.
Baby Consuelo do Brasil needs absolutely no introduction. As one of the Novos Baianos group in the late sixties and seventies along with then-husband Pepeu Gomes, Paulinho Boca, Moraes Moreira and Dadi, she helped break new ground in Brazilian popular music by incorporating sounds old and new under the tutelage of João Gilberto, Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil until they found their own voice and went on to make legendary albums like Acabou Chorare, which was named by Brazil’s Rolling Stone magazine as one of the ten most influential albums in the country’s history.
When that phase ended, Baby went on to become one of the top-selling solo artists in the country, scoring multiple hits like “Menino do Rio,” “Sem Pecado e Sem Juízo” and “Cósmica”- to name a few. Following her conversion to Evangelical Christianity in 1990, she took a 10-year hiatus from recording new music and became a minister herself (though she did appear with the reformed Novos Baianos through the 1990s).
Back in 2012, I had a chance meeting with her at the lobby of the New Yorker hotel during that year’s edition of the Latin Alternative Music Conference, and a long casual chat on various topics, when she told me about her new disc Geração Guerreiros do Apocalipse (S/R), which I reviewed for All About Jazz. She was pleased with that article, and a year later she agreed to grant me an interview, which took place during a recent stay in New York City.
So you spent a decade without recording – why did this happen?
I have always had a way of thinking in which I was more concerned with creativity and my quality time than feeding a market that I had conquered during my career. Within an idea of artistic integrity, I always search for a certain quality that pleases me in the way of being honest with the people that follow my career.
I converted to Christianity in a very organic manner – it was not in a deeply religious manner, or a radical way. I was seeking answers on questions about life and the world we live in, and so I decided to go deeply within the Scriptures – what is Christ is about – finding the Revelation without the human requisites that get in the way of religion.
I took the time to do a lot of research and discovery that required me to take a break from recording because I was completely immersed into my new discovery in Jesus. I had many supernatural experiences and it was a period in which all the questions I had since I was very young were finally answered.
I have made an English-language record that is not yet released which is called “The Drive of the Holy Rock” – the title has a double meaning. The album features musicians such as Abe Laboriel, Nelson Faria and many others. In between those I did Geração Guerreiros do Apocalipse, which shares my personal vision of the search for peace and understanding in a world full of confusion.
You have built a career in Gospel music but you continue playing secular material – how does this parallel line work?
This is something that has never been done in Brazil. When I started making gospel music, it was something done with a lot of love without thinking in gaining a market or making money, since my Christian music CDs are generally sold inside churches. About two years ago, I heard God’s voice within me in which He told me to prepare myself for a new direction I would take.
I told this to the members of my church, that I would make this decision that I did not yet know what it would be. Shortly after that my son Pedro Baby (note: a prolific guitarist who has worked with Bebel Gilberto and Marisa Monte, among others) said he wanted to create a show with my hits, which he’d been hearing since he was a kid.
I told him I would pray for guidance, and God confirmed that I should do this show through two signs I received. So I returned to the secular market doing these shows but letting the audience know who I am today during a very difficult moment in which young people are facing new problems around the world – I was able to bring this new vision of being a ‘regular’ person but also someone who is committed with God. I feel that you can have purple hair and wear colorful clothing – you can be a bit eccentric while still walking with God.
How does it feel to work alongside your son?
This was a fantastic experience – the moment we started planning this, we went through a process of choosing songs , and he gave me his point of view on how to do it. This made me very surprised and happy, because I was able to see what his musical vision was – he picked the tunes and asked me what I thought of them – it would have been impossible to include every hit because there were so many.
As he went through the selection, I realized there were tunes I could not even remember, because I had been involved with the Gospel scene for so long. He made sure all the tunes that were arranged by his father (the guitarist Pepeu Gomes) were faithful to the original recordings but also adding his personal touch to them.
This was great because the songs did not lose their original beauty but gave it a young spice to them – so it was cool to share my songs with someone who has his own way of looking at this music. It was a really wonderful experience.
So what are your plans going forward?
We do have many plans. My son is currently on tour with Gal Costa, a great friend of ours, who is also a reference to our music. Following that, we have many live gigs following the release of a live disc, and we are going to write some new music as we go along, and of course there is focus on the international market. This is something I am thinking carefully because I want it to be something considerable here…
Baby do Brasil will be performing on Sunday, July 20 at The South Street Seaport as part of the lineup of Brasil Summerfest 2014. For more information visit http://www.brasilsummerfest.com/
Ernest Barteldes is a freelance writer based on Staten Island, New York. He can be reached at email@example.com. This article appeared in The Brasilians.