Why I’m Listening To Seu Jorge Right Now
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Someone recently left a comment on my YouTube Argentina video asking me why I would play Seu Jorge, one of Brazil’s megastars, in the background of a video about Argentina. My answer? It’s Seu Jorge. You don’t question these things.
One thing I feel like I don’t do enough of on the site is to write about artists from around the world. (As a side note, I promise to never use the pejorative label: “World Music.” As if any music that’s not in English or from the United States should simply be clumped together in some sort of amorphous group and not given the respect to at least distinguish its origin. Sorry, it’s kind of a pet peeve of mine. Kind of like watching the Olympics in America where you’d be hard-pressed to realize that any countries outside of the U.S. actually compete.)
Today’s March 2nd, and every year around this time, as the winter drags on but spring feels just around the corner, I find myself gravitating towards music found south of the Equator. Today I was streaming a steady supply of Seu Jorge, the favela-raised musician, actor (ever heard of a little movie called “City of God” or “The Life Aquatic”?), and former beach performer.
Brazilian by birth, Jorge’s music, like the country itself, is a hodgepodge of styles ranging from the drum-heavy beats of the North, to an updated take on tropicalia, or as some have dubbed, neo-tropicalia. Either way, Jorge’s infectious rhythms and transcendent melodies will stay in your head long after you pushed stop.
In a 2006 CNN interview, Jorge recounts his incredible life story and how he became a musician. (Beware, this is one of those stories that makes you realize that you should quit whining about your own life and realize how easy you’ve had it.)
Ever since I was 10 years old my dream was to be a musician. My father was a musician, a rhythmist playing tambourines, drums… he worked in one park, playing the stage for maybe three or four years and I used to go and see him play. After my brother was murdered I ended up living on the street because my mother needed to sell my home. While I was on the street I met my musical partner, Gabriel Moura, who was playing guitar and singing in bars and I learnt to play from him. Two years later I joined a theatre company because Gabriel Moura invited me for a singing audition. I never thought about making money. I started playing music as a passion. After my brother died I was very, very hungry, very, very sad and I wanted revenge. My friend put hope in my heart. I changed my mind and I found a friend with the music and I played guitar for the people. My first band, Farofa Carioca, played on the beach for free.