It was a magic night at Canecão in Rio. In the audience the likes
of Caetano Veloso and Sônia Braga. On stage: Daúde. She started out with a segment of
hard, driving rock, which set the audience on fire and soon she had the audience in the
palm of her hand, following her every move and sound. There was a contagious aura about
her, of mischief and playfulness as well as an obvious love for what she was doing.
By Kirsten Weinoldt
The day was September 22, 1998. The place: Teatro Canecão in Rio de Janeiro where
magical things happen, now as in days past when Tom Jobim and Noel Rosa contributed to
making Rio a Cidade Maravilhosa (Marvelous City is Rio’s nickname). I had received an
invitation from Natasha Records to attend this one-show engagement of Daúde. I must admit
that I knew little about her, except for the times I had heard someone rave about her.
Living in the U.S., one is handicapped by the lack of radio stations playing Brazilian
music. It is necessary to read reviews and then go in search of the CDs that sound
I arrived at Canecão in the Botafogo district of Rio, not far from the famous
Copacabana and introduced myself. I was given tickets on the first row of tables right in
front of the stage, which gave me ample opportunity to see and take pictures. Looking
around I saw screen star, Sônia Braga, arriving and being greeted by dignitaries,
friends, and fans. Canecão is by no means an elegant place, but it is laid out in such a
way that the audience can enjoy the show from anywhere in the multi-level room. I decided
to go in search of my contact from Natasha Records, Júlio, whom I hadn’t met yet, and
went toward the exit where I ran into Caetano Veloso, who told me he had just arrived from
the airport and was stopping by before going home. I began to feel the excitement and
anticipation. If Caetano chose to go to Canecão rather than home after a grueling tour
schedule, then I figured Daúde must be good.
I went back to my table without having found Júlio, just in time to see Caetano posing
for photographers with Sônia Braga. I even managed to get a shot in, myself. One of the
differences between an American and a Brazilian audience is that if a show here in the
U.S. is scheduled to start at a particular time, the booing starts if the show has not
begun five minutes after that designated time. In Brazil, people are much more relaxed
about something like that. A little more time gives people the chance to chat and have a
drink, look about, and anticipate a little longer—even if it is a Tuesday night, and
it’s already after 11.
Finally, the lights dimmed, and a voice introduced the evening’s attraction. The stage
became enveloped in smoke, which was given an eerie, dream-like quality by changing,
colored lighting. The group accompanying Daúde appeared. It consists of drums,
percussion, electric guitar, keyboard, and two female dancers. And then—there she
was—dressed in what appeared to be an ultra-short, silver hooded raincoat, which
glittered in the light. Black knee-high patent leather boots hugged her long, shapely legs
and made her entrance—strutting onto the stage—quite a sight.
The crowd roared. She started out with a segment of hard, driving rock, which set the
audience on fire from the first note. The two dancers were beautifully choreographed to
complement the singer. The first song brought back memories from my childhood in Europe.
It was Miriam Makeba’s “Pata Pata,” which created such a stir many years ago.
The energy with which she began her show set the tone for the rest of the evening. The
crowd was energized, and once, when I looked back, I saw that the fans on the upper levels
were on their feet dancing along with the intoxicating music.
Later, the raincoat came off, revealing a charcoal, metallic, strapless, short dress
which might have been painted on. Daúde can carry off that kind of dress, however, her
slim, feminine body being the perfect vehicle for that kind of outfit. It appeared that
with the change in dress came a change in the music she sang. The volume turned down a
notch or two, her songs became soft, more romantic ones. “Vamos Fugir” (Let us
Flee) by Gilberto Gil and “Objeto Não Identificado (Object Not Identified) by
Caetano Veloso, were just two of them. And Daúde had the audience in the palm of her
hand, following her every move and sound. There was a contagious aura about her, of
mischief and playfulness as well as an obvious love for what she was doing. And when her
musicians played solo, she respectfully stood aside to let them enjoy the spotlight. Her
voice is crisp and sexy, and her demeanor is mischievous and teasing at the same time that
it is romantic and vulnerable.
And then, suddenly, it was over in what seemed like an instant—an instant, which,
as it turned out, had lasted roughly an hour and a half. It was 1 o’clock when I checked.
It was a little like awakening from a fantasy-filled dream.
Paula Lavigne, wife of Caetano and partner in Natasha Records, invited us backstage to
meet Daúde. It was her birthday, now that it was the 23rd of September, and
she was greeted by well-wishers and friends, and “Happy Birthday” was sung
accompanied by many hugs and kisses. Now dressed in a simple, white shirt and pants, she
looked just as beautiful and a little bit to my surprise, sweet and warm. The playfulness
was now mixed with a shyness not present on stage. I was introduced, and we agreed that
backstage at Canecão was neither the time nor the place for an interview.
The time and place came a few days later at the office of Natasha Records where they
gave me copies of her CDs Daúde and Daúde #2. A word about Natasha’s
office is necessary. Located in the Santa Teresa neighborhood of Rio, one must have a
mountain-worthy car, climbing narrow, winding, cobble-stoned streets to the top of a steep
hill to get there. Then, upon being admitted by a buzzer, there is a dozen or so steep
steps down to the entrance with a breath-taking view of Rio’s Pão de Açúcar, Sugarloaf
Mountain, and much more.
Daúde was not able to meet us there, so the interview took place over the phone,
something that made me just the slightest bit nervous, my Portuguese being a lot less than
perfect. But my first instinct about the lady was correct. She was nice and warm and very
patient with me.
Daúde was born on September 23rd, 36 years ago in Salvador, but she could
tell you she was 26, and you would believe her.
Brazzil: Your father was a musician, wasn’t he? What did he play, and what
was his influence on your own music?
Daúde: He played clarinet and saxophone. And there was always music in my house,
classical, big band music, and MPB (Música Popular Brasileira—Brazilian Popular
Brazzil: For my readers, many of whom are Americans, how would you speak of
Daúde: It is music for everybody, for all races in all countries.
Brazzil: Speak of your tour to Europe.
Daúde: Yes, in October we are starting a tour that goes to Norway, France,
Germany, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, and Denmark. There will be Bossa Nova, folkloric
music and much more in the tour.
Brazzil: What do you find to be the difference between Brazilian and European
Daúde: They are actually more alike than different. I am touched by the warmth and
respect I feel coming from both.
Brazzil: You have just released your second CD. When will it be out in the
Daúde: I’m afraid that we haven’t found a distributor yet, so I can’t tell you
when it will be out.
Brazzil: But when it does come out, you will do a tour promoting it?
Daúde: Yes, I’m looking forward to that.
Brazzil: Tell me about the songs on the CD and in the show. Who chose them,
and are there songs with special significance for you?
Daúde: First, I choose my own material. It’s difficult to say if there are songs
with special significance, but I can say this, that all my material is chosen by the same
criterion. It must be emotional music.
Brazzil: The CD has special participation by Djavan, Carlinhos Brown, Herbert
Vianna, and Nelson Sargento. How do they contribute to the quality of the work?
Daúde: Each one of them contributes to making a better CD because of their own
love for singing as well as for emotional music. Each one puts his personality into the
Brazzil: What are your plans for the future?
Daúde: I want to work a lot. I love to sing, and I hope my career will grow.
Brazzil: Do you have a personal philosophy on the business of being a singer?
Daúde: I try not to be blinded or too impressed with being a performer. I learned
growing up that respect is the most important thing—the respect I give others as well
as the respect I receive in return.
Telephone interviews are always difficult in that they provide no visual impressions,
one of the other, and therefore end up being shorter. So I did a little research to get a
few more answers about Maria Waldelurdes Costa Santana, which is Daúde’s real name.
She was born in the Candeal neighborhood of Salvador, Bahia, the neighborhood Carlinhos
Brown calls his own, and where the musical tradition is strong. (Carlinhos Brown runs a
school for music in Candeal).
Her father, who was in the military, was transferred to Rio when she was 10. Her little
brother could not pronounce Waldelurdes, and Daúde was born. In addition to the music she
heard at home, she studied lyrical song with Paulo Fortes and did musical theater with the
directors Luiz Mendonça and Luiz Antônio Martinez Corrêa (Mahogany), and MPB shows with
Will Mowatt, the English producer, known for his work with the group Soul II Soul, says
of Daúde’s diverse taste in music,” The key word to understanding Daúde’s music is
fusion.” Together with Celso Fonseca he produced Daúde’s second CD, Daúde #2.
He wanted to explore the singer’s many facets. “Daúde herself selected all the
songs. Celso and I merely sought to give it a contemporaneous package. The result is pop
and very Brazilian. It mixes MPB with techno, Carlinhos Brown with South Africa. Miriam
Makeba’s “Pata Pata” has participation by Carlinhos Brown and the baianargentino,
Argentine from Bahia, percussionist, Ramiro Mussotto.
Other recreations on the CD are “Vamos Fugir” by Gilberto Gil and Liminha
with participation by Djavan as well as the samba by Nelson Sargento “Idioma
Esquisito,” (Strange Language). The other cuts on the CD are new. These are
“Chanson Triste” (Sad Song) by Herbert Vianna; “Quase” (Almost) by
Caetano Veloso and Antônio Cícero; “Romena” by Luís Capucho and Suely
Mesquita, and “Boca” (Mouth) by Paulinho Moska and George Israel.
After recording in Rio, Daúde and Will went to London to put the finishing touches on
the CD. “I think,” says Will, “that this is a CD well suited for playing on
the radio as well as for dancing, with songs that people can sing and whistle. And
Daúde’s personality comes shining through on all the cuts.”
The first CD is still selling around the world, and some of the cuts have been included
in collections—one in Israel and one on David Byrne’s “Beleza Tropical 2,”
and by Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Records. It seems as if the world of popular
music is opening its doors to the Bahian singer.
“Daúde expresses a new reality for Brazil, one of youth that is proud of the
country’s culture but not afraid of mixing it with the rhythm and technology from the
outside,” says Will Mowatt. “It’s something I perceived in the work people like
Carlinhos Brown, Chico Science, Fernanda Abreu, and Herbert Vianna. Herbert, by the way,
is like David Bowie and Peter Gabriel in that he is apt to reinvent himself. He heard the
CD and was impressed with what we had done.
Sitting at Canecão, I tried for a moment to separate myself from the invitation and
front row table and the job ahead of writing about this singer. I pictured her on a North
American stage and asked myself, “Would an American audience get as excited as this
audience was?” And the only answer that came to me was “Yes, yes!”
Gilberto Gil and Liminha
Pois diga que irá
Pois diga que irá
Todo dia de manhã
So tell me that you are going
So tell me that you will go
Every day in the morning
Kirsten Weinoldt was born in Denmark and came to the U.S. in 1969. She
fell in love with Brazil after seeing Black Orpheus many years ago and has lived
immersed in Brazilian culture ever since. E-mail: email@example.com