Singer Gaby Amarantos on Salvador, Bahia, Brazil’s “Black Rome”: “It’s the place where I saw the most black people with pride of being black”

Singer Gaby Amarantos recently visited the city of Salvador, Bahia
Singer Gaby Amarantos recently visited the city of Salvador, Bahia

Note from BW of Brazil: Popular singer Gaby Amarantos from the northern state of  Pará blew up a few years ago with a musical style that has been dubbed tecno brega. Since her meteoric rise to fame, Amarantos has been featured on a number of TV shows, appeared in a movie, won MTV music awards, shrugged off Beyonce comparisons and toured all over the country. In a visit to the city nicknamed “Roma Negra (Black Rome)”, Salvador, Bahia, Gaby spoke a little about Gaby the person and her love for the “cidade mais negra do Brasil (the blackest city of Brazil).” Although in reality, another city, Antônio Cardoso, also in Bahia, is the blackest city percentage wise, Salvador’s reputation as the “black mecca”, Brazil’s center of African culture is well-known outside of Brazilian borders.

With its vibrant music and dance, tasty culinary dishes, terreiros (temples) of Afro-Brazilian religion and its people, Salvador, Bahia, is a destination that African descendants around world owe themselves to visit at least once. For those from the US, Salvador, and indeed Bahia in general, is sure to conjure up memories of “down south” with down home flavor, kin folk and family roots. Black Brazilians and many black Americans often speak of the nostalgic, mystical sentiment one feels upon visiting the city, which is why the new tourist website was an excellent idea. I once read that if one is never able to visit the African continent in their lifetime, Salvador, Bahia is the next best thing. Indeed! Axé!

Gaby Amarantos was impressed with Salvador, Bahia and says it’s, “where I saw the most black people who were proud to be black”

Courtesy of Correio 24 Horas

Gaby Amarantos will do a free show in Salvador, next Sunday on the Armação beach. The 35-year old singer from the northern state of Pará was invited to the latest edition of this year’s Verão Coca-Cola (Coca-Cola Summer). Now slimmer, after her participation in the Medida Certa (The Right Measurement) reality show of the Globo TV program Fantástico (along with singer Preta Gil, comedian Fábio Porchat and musician César Menotti), the singer was an assistant to musician/judge Lulu Santos on The Voice Brazil (music reality show), also on  Globo, and carries a full agenda.

Preta Gil, Fábio Porchat, César Menotti and Gaby Amarantos, contestants on "Medida Certa"
Preta Gil, Fábio Porchat, César Menotti and Gaby Amarantos, contestants on “Medida Certa”

But she found time to talk to Correio. During this chat, she says she will always remember the moment she saw the face of her son, 4-year old David, for the first time. Gaby also speaks passionately about the city of Salvador. She says he has been a fan of the city since she was a little girl. She speaks emotionally about how she felt when she first set foot in the Senzala do Barro Preto Barro, the headquarters of the historic bloco afro Ilê Aiyê in the neighborhood of Curuzu: “I cried a lot.”

AN UNFORGETTABLE MOMENT

When I saw the face of my son, David, for the first time after he was born

A MOMENT THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO FORGET

I always want to remember everything in my life. Even the bad times because of they provide good lessons.

WHAT MORE DO YOU TAKE THE MOST SERIOUS?

Prejudice

Gaby Amarantos
Gaby Amarantos

WHAT MOST MAKES YOU RELAX?

Music

A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN…

Dira Paes

A HANDSOME MAN…

Rodrigo Lombardi

WHAT’S THE WORST THAT CRITICISM YOU EVER RECEIVED?

I don’t deal with bad reviews. I ignore them.

WHAT IS THE HIGHEST PRAISE THAT YOU EVER RECEIVED?

The compliments by Nelson Motta and Hermano Vianna (columnists of newspapers O Estado de S. Paulo and O Globo, respectively) were, are and will always be very important for my career. They are two great critics, the greatest connoisseurs of Brazilian music and I am lucky to have the love and approval of the two.

WHAT’S PLAYING ON YOUR IPOD?

My iPod is the most eclectic thing I know. I like (everything) from thrash metal to gospel, from classical to cheesy music. All styles from all countries. I am passionate about music.

WHAT’S WON’T GOING INTO YOUR IPOD?

There is no style I don’t play on my iPod. I listen to the national anthem of the country. I love to search. For me, there is no good or bad. Music is what touches the heart.

IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT IS THE WORST OF THE SEVEN CAPITAL SINS?

Surely envy because all the others don’t make a person so bad.  Envy makes anyone the worst of all.

An Ilê Aiyê event in Salvador, Bahia
An Ilê Aiyê event in Salvador, Bahia

THE WORST THING ABOUT OF SALVADOR

I hope I never see a bad Salvador side because I am very passionate about the city, the food, the culture, everything! I have always been a fan since I was a little girl. I love it!

THE BEST THING ABOUT SALVADOR

It’s the people and this pride of baianidade nagô (1), this thing of negritude (blackness). It’s the place where I saw the most black people with pride of being black (2). This is the best: that pride of being from Salvador, its culture, its negritude.

A KEY OF THE CITY

The headquarters of Ilê Aiyê is one of my favorite places. It is one of the best places to know, to go dancing…When I was there the first time, I remember got emotional and I cried a lot.

Source: Correio 24 Horas

Notes

1. Baianidade can be translated as something like “Bahian-ness”, a quality of people or things from Bahia. Nagô is the name owing itself to the Yoruba or every negro from the slave coast that spoke or understood Yoruba. Salvador, Bahia, is known for having kept alive various facets of Yoruba culture such as food, religion and language.

2. Gaby’s comments on identity and pride speak volumes about the growing consciousness in Salvador, Bahia, as black consciousness and pride are still a complex issue in a country like Brazil where many persons of visible African ancestry still struggle with the acceptance of a black identity. See here, here and here for only a few examples.

About Marques Travae 3222 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

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