Saturday, November 5, 2016

MARIA LUIZA, samba & torch-song singer


In the so-called 'old centre' in Sao Paulo, Brazil there is a musical-instrument shop called Contemporânea that used to have a fairly large room in its back where they assembled musicians who played 'choro' every Saturday morning. Choro is what could be called the 'Brazilian jazz'. Musicians of all ages played acoustic guitars, 7-string acoustic-guitars, cavaquinhos - a sort of Brazilian ukelele with 4 strings - and mandolins that usually carry the choro melody.

Those sessions were senhor Miguel's pride and joy. He was Contemporânea's owner and since his death they're not the same anymore. Sr. Miguel used to 'protect' the singers from the wrath of most musicians who used to feel belittled by having to accompany so many singers in succession. After sr. Miguel died the singers were relegated to second-citizenry and gradually abandoned the place due to restrictions coming from the instrumentalists. 

Well, when those sessions were really hot - circa 2010-1012 - there were a few singers who transcended all others. Among them there was Maria Luiza who sang with heart and soul. Listening to Luiza's singing was like reviewing Brazilian popular music's history: 'Aperto de mão', 'O sorriso do Paulinho', 'De conversa em conversa' from Isaura Garcia's repertoire and 'Devolvi' a samba-cancao written by Adelino Moreira for Nubia Lafayette were Luiza's strong points. 


Luiza doing what she did best: to sing her soul. She was respected by the musicians and always carried her little note-book where she kept the titles of her favourite songs alongside with the chords. She used to tell the musicians what chord she would sing this or that. The lady in pink is Silvili, another good singer. 

Maria Luiza was interviewed by journalist Thais Matarazzo once and here are some insights about her life.

Maria Luiza was born and raised on Rua Santo Antonio, in the inner suburb of Bela Vista, Sao Paulo when it was a mostly Italian section of town. She told Thais her Italian father was very strict and she had a few brothers and sisters. Some time later, when Luiza was 10 or 11 years old the family moved to Vila Prudente in the east section of the city. There Luiza started singing at birthday parties or amusement parks. She and her sister used to organize impromptu dances in houses that were still under constructions where Luiza would play the part of the crooner while friends danced. Her father wouldn't dream of what was happening. 

Luiza loved such popular radio singers as Linda Baptista, Ademilde Fonseca and Isaura Garcia and consequently sang their repertoire. Before too long Luiza fell in love with the 'handsomest fellow in the neighbourhood' (o morenão mais bonito do pedaço), they got married and had a boy and a girl. 

Even after married Luiza never stopped singing in public in 'serestas' (Brazilian equivalent to serenades). Luiza and her beau visited Europe once and grew older happily ever having had a  few grandchildren. 

Maria Luiza at 16 years of age; then at 22.
Luiza when she was 60 years old; Luiza on 22 September 2007 at Contemporanea.
Maria Luiza's home-made CD.

Maria Luiza & Thais Matarazzo on 31st March 2012. Luiza would get at Contemporânea every Saturday morning... sat herself down in one of those benches propped up against the wall and waited until such time as she would be called by one of the musicians to sing a couple of songs. 
Maria Luiza singing with her ever present little note-book on 19 July 2014; this was probably the last time I saw Luiza. Not long after that she said she would be submitted to an operation because of her diabetes. She had the operation but didn't come alive from it. 
Luiza would sing Adelino Moreira's 'Devolvi' recorded originally by Nubia Lafayette. It used to be one of her favourites even though Arnaldinho and other musicians turned their nose when they accompanied her on 'Devolvi' which is considered 'square'. 

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