Brazil’s infectious anthem: When millions sing the alarm, Enough!

CHEGA   —   Enough!

(Não é pelos vinte centavos)   —   (We will arrive, but Not by twenty cents)

Cada um fazendo a sua parte, vamos construir um país melhor. Uma homenagem de Seu Jorge, Gabriel Moura e Pretinho da Serrinha a todos os Brasileiros……(Each one doing its part, we are going to build a better country.)

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Published On: July 22, 2013

Brazilian Music in New York

Brazil Summerfest opened in New York City this past weekend. This is the third summer that lovers of Brazilian music have organized the festival to celebrate it in New York. The annual festival is a treat for the tens of thousands of Brazilians who live in and near New York City, not to mention the millions of international tourists who come to New York every summer.

This year’s festival includes performances by Gaby Amarantos, Marcelo D2, Toninho Horta, Tulipa Ruiz, and others. They will perform at outdoor locations like Central Park’s SummerStage and the South Street Seaport, as well as clubs like Joe’s Pub.

Certainly the biggest name on the list of performers is Jorge Mário da Silva, the 43-year-old singer and songwriter known as Seu Jorge. When asked about this year’s festival and what makes it special, Seu Jorge was quick to point out that all the musicians and artists from Brazil have been affected by the mass demonstrations that have erupted recently in Brazil. The street protests have inspired him to write a song.

“If this thing had happened in Jamaica, certainly Bob Marley would do something, wouldn’t he? And if something like this were happening in Nigeria, wouldn’t Fela Kuti have written some song?” Seu Jorge remarked.  “The idea was to write a song that would lead people to sing for their rights,” continued Seu Jorge, who is known in the US not only as an international ambassador of Brazilian music, but also as an actor in the Wes Anderson film, Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.

Seu Jorge has written a song called Chega (“Enough”). He was in Brazil last week to record the song with his co-writers Gabriel Moura and Pretinho da Serrinha. A few days later, the song had been mixed in the studio and posted online on YouTube and as a free download.

Seu Jorge’s protest song includes the lyrics, “No more impunity, no more inequality, enough!” It features both an electric piano and a soaring flute for emphasis. The song goes on to proclaim: “Enough of not having a house to live in, enough of not having money to pay the bills.” The chorus sings, “Brazil, your time has come, Brazil, it has to be now,” and “Brazil, this is a rare chance!”

In an interview about his new song, Seu Jorge said: “The idea was to share this with people, for the public good and with no money involved, so that they would have something to sing out on the streets as they marched. Look, the demonstrations don’t have a leader, a party or some guiding figure, so we wanted to do this in the most natural way possible.”

Seu Jorge is not the only musician performing at Summerfest who has been inspired by the protests. The rapper Marcelo D2, who will perform Wednesday at the club Nublu in the East Village, also has found himself excited by the protests. His Nublu show is a release party for a new CD, Nothing Can Stop Me. It contains songs with titles like “I’ve Got the Power” and “The Time Is Coming.”

“In a certain sense, I never thought I’d live to see this happen,” Marcelo said. “For 20 years, I’ve been making music urging people to take to the streets, so there was no way I could not participate. I went with my wife and son, we had rubber bullets fired at us, we carried placards, the whole thing. Even if nothing changes, we’ve still opened up new possibilities, and people are going to think of politics in a different way.”

Marcelo D2, 45, whose birth name is Marcelo Maldonado Peixoto, said that while he has been “tweeting and Facebooking like crazy” since the protests began, he hasn’t yet written any new songs directly referring to recent events. “I need time to absorb what’s been going on, besides which I also don’t want it to seem like I’m using this big moment of change to market myself. I don’t want to look like an opportunist. Brazil is more important than my own success.”

Instead, he said, he is restructuring his live show so that it includes more songs, both old and from his new CD, which can be seen as predicting or making observations about the mass mobilizations. “This is a moment to reaffirm everything I’ve been saying,” he said.

Seu Jorge is also looking for existing songs he can incorporate into his set to comment on the current situation. He’s had hits with songs like “Social Problem,” sung from the point of view of the street kid he once was himself.

For Seu Jorge, one of the highlight of his shows at the Blue Note is an a cappella rendition of João Nogueira’s “Minha Missão” (“My Mission”). Seu Jorge said he regards the song as a timeless statement of an artist’s obligation to his society and public, not just in Brazil but anywhere. The lyrics of the song state: “When I sing, it’s to relieve my tears, and the weeping of those who have already suffered so much. I sing to denounce the lash of the whip, and I sing against tyranny. I sing because in a melody I can ignite in the heart of the people the hope for a new world and the struggle to live in peace.”…………………………….

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