Note from BW of Brazil: Maybe you’ve never heard of singer Elza Soares. If you live outside of Brazil and never listened to the music of other countries, it is very possible that you’ve ever heard of one of Brazil’s national treasures. The BBC surely knows who she is as the British media conglomerate who also dubbed her the “Brazilian Tina Turner” named Soares the “Singer of the Millenium” in the year 2000. But still today, at the age of 80, Soares, now performing in a wheelchair, still has something to say, especially on the topic of race. Her song, “A Carne”, which means “meat” or “flesh” became an oft-repeated phrase by Afro-Brazilians speaking on the way Brazilian society devalues black life. “The cheapest meat/flesh on the market is the black/dark meat” goes the main lyric.
Very fitting, considering the genocidal numbers of black youth that are killed every day, both by every daily violence as well as by the brutal actions taken by Brazil’s Military Police. The Soares song defines the experience of being black in Brazil in numerous ways. We can consider it in the context of black workers, as a whole, earn less money per month than those who consider themselves white. This is even the case among the poorest people living in the country’s favela slums.
We can apply it to the characters black actors and actresses are generally relegated to characters that are from the slums, maids, cleaning women, security guards, in television novelas (soap operas). Our we can apply it to the disregard with which black lives are treated. Consider, for just a few examples, the massacre of 12 black youth in Salvador, Bahia, the 100 plus shots taken at five black youth in a car in Rio, or the way Cláudia Silva Ferreira was shot, thrown in the back of a police van and then her lifeless body dragged on the cement street for several meters.
Elza’s “A Carne”, as well as her life struggle simply to survive as a poor, black woman, and a career that has taken her to heights rare for a black woman in Brazil, has become sort of a symbolic godmother for the black women’s movement in Brazil. And for good reason.
Check out the fresh interpretation of her song and video that features a cast of representatives of a new generation of black Brazil that is demanding more from a country that has belittled them for so long.
On Black Consciousness Day Elza Soares releases new video for the song “A Carne”
By Tânia Seles
On the Day of Black Consciousness, Elza Soares presents us with a new version of the video of her song “A Carne”. She praises the beauty and qualities of black people, while sitting on her throne dressed in all white. The video also features judo fighter and Olympic Champion Rafaela Silva.
The song speaks of racism while Elza says in her husky voice that “the cheapest meat on the market is the dark/black meat.
“A Carne” is from the album Do Cóccix Até o Pescoço, originally released in 2002.
Elza Soares: “The racism nowadays still shocks me”
Courtesy of Diário Online
Elza Soares is a woman of fiber. With a history of fighting against prejudice, she has established herself as one of the greatest performers of world music. Just over a month after her 80th birthday, the singer is still thrilled to witness every minority achievement. On the Dia Nacional da Mulher Negra (National Black Women’s Day), celebrated on Tuesday (25), the artist, who does a show in the city on August 26, recognizes that there is still much to do for the dreamed equal opportunities.
“I faced a lot of prejudice. I was the first black woman to sing in clubs where blacks did not have access, my singing helped me position myself and put me in a place where I could fight for equality,” she recalls.
The persistence of the singer, who was once a cleaning lady and maid, was the solution that led her to reaching the top of her career. “I can’t do anything but sing … I know how to cook, but I can’t take over the kitchen because of my spine problem … It’s on the stage that I’m happy,” she says.
Willingness to face challenges? “I have so much faith. When things are not the way I want them, I stop and I breathe and I think that everything passes. Good things happen, bad things, too,” she opines.
Elza recalls the various prejudices she has endured on her path, but she’s not bitter about her memories. “I am still shocked by the many cases of racism practiced today. This only reinforces that we still have a lot to fight for,” she emphasizes.