Con­quers land of samba

Kuwait Times - - LIFESTYLE -

Brazil may be the land of samba and bossa nova, but lately its hips are sway­ing to a dif­fer­ent rhythm. In cow­boy hats and plaid shirts, with touches of bling, newwave coun­try singers are con­quer­ing the air­waves and the dance floors. A world away from the soft jazz and Latin rhythms that Brazil crafted from the 1960s, this is “ser­tanejo” the catchy sound of the deep coun­try.

Cou­ples dance cheek to cheek as “Jorge and Ma­teus” croon their songs of love and loss. “Chi­taoz­inho and Xororo” set toes tap­ping with a banjo and vi­olin. The mu­sic pulls at the heart­strings, say fans - such as Cristina de Souza, 38. In pink lip­stick and a heart-shaped neck­lace, she waits in line for a Jorge and Ma­teus con­cert in the ser­tanejo cap­i­tal Goia­nia - Brazil’s an­swer to Nashville. “Ser­tanejo mu­sic is about the heart,” she tells AFP. “It is about ro­mance and suf­fer­ing, so peo­ple iden­tify with it. It is a rhythm that cap­ti­vates ev­ery­one.”

Love Songs

Of the 100 most-played songs on the ra­dio in Brazil last year, 75 were ser­tanejo, ac­cord­ing to a rank­ing by mu­sic in­dus­try group Crow­ley. “Nowa­days it has a very strong in­flu­ence on Brazil­ians’ ev­ery­day lives, on how they entertain them­selves and build their iden­ti­ties,” said Ed­son Farias, a so­ci­ol­o­gist at Brasilia Univer­sity. “It has a de­ci­sive in­flu­ence on how they re­late to each other emo­tion­ally. Peo­ple cry about their love lives, or cel­e­brate them, lis­ten­ing to ser­tanejo.”

Town and Coun­try

The style has ex­isted for at least a cen­tury in this vast, farm­ing na­tion. But it turned into a pop­u­lar phe­nom­e­non from the 1980s, mi­grat­ing to the cities. It adopted elec­tric gui­tars, key­boards and full rock ‘n’ roll-style drum kits. Chi­taoz­inho and Xororo’s best­selling 1990 al­bum “As­phalt Cow­boy” cap­tured the essence of this ser­tanejo fu­sion. “We felt that the mu­sic couldn’t just stay re­stricted to an acous­tic coun­try style,” says Jose de Lima So­brinho, one half of the duo.

Au­di­ences are still flock­ing to see them. “It’s about what peo­ple like to hear. It is about the lives of all Brazil­ians,” So­brinho tells AFP, at a con­cert in Goia­nia. “Peo­ple from the in­te­rior, who know the coun­try­side, farm­ing, fish­ing - those peo­ple have the great­est love for this mu­sic be­cause it is part of their back­ground,” he says. Now younger acts such as Jorge and Ma­teus are rein­vent­ing the style. “Ser­tanejo is mod­ern mu­sic,” says one half of the duo, Jorge Alves Barce­los. “You can use a wide range of mu­si­cal in­stru­ments. You can in­cor­po­rate Latin in­flu­ences or more tra­di­tional in­flu­ences, or some­thing more elec­tronic. Nowa­days, ser­tanejo has it all.”

Some mod­ern coun­try stars like Jorge have also de­parted from the coun­try dress code of plaid shirt and cow­boy hat. He per­forms with gelled hair, a neatly trimmed beard and black t-shirt. “Their dress is no longer strictly hill­billy style,” says Farias, who is study­ing the coun­try mu­sic craze. “They wear jeans like North Amer­i­can cow­boys, along with var­i­ous sym­bols that show they have money.”

But even in its mod­ern cos­mopoli­tan form, ser­tanejo ex­alts ba­si­cally con­ser­va­tive val­ues, Farias says. It is per­haps more rem­i­nis­cent of Tammy Wynette’s “Stand By Your Man” than life in the flesh­pots of Brazil’s big cities. Its songs talk of “viril­ity and fidelity,” Farias says, “and how het­ero­sex­ual fam­i­lies are the nor­mal thing.” — AFP

‘Ser­tanejo’ mu­sic style duo ‘Chi­taoz­inho e Xororo’ per­forms. — AFP pho­tos

Brazil­ian “Ser­tanejo” mu­sic style duo “Jorge & Matheus” per­forms in Goia­nia, Goias State, Brazil on Oct 27, 2016.

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