Category Archives: Culture

Luar do Sertão marathon

luar do sertao
The moon seen at the National Park of Caraça, Minas Gerais. Photo by Glauco Umbelino/ Flickr

Luar do Sertão, one of the anthems of the Northeast of the country, was written by Catulo da Paixão Cearense and João Pernambuco  – whose origins are evident in their names. One of the most recorded songs in the country’s history, it was previously seen on Deep Brazil in the voice of Marlene Dietriech.

Check these other versions and decide who delivers the best interpretation:

Caipira duo Tonico e Tinoco

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Coffin Joe on The New York Times

Photo by Rafael Hernandez/ Flickr

Campy horror film master José Mojica Marins, aka Zé do Caixão or Coffin Joe, is the star of a story just published on the New York Times website by former Brazil correspondent Larry Rohter:

SEATED on a sofa in the living room of his modest apartment here, dressed in shorts and flip-flops, José Mojica Marins seems inoffensive. He is mild mannered and soft-spoken, and nothing suggests he has made a career of writing, acting in and directing provocative horror movies with titles like “Hallucinations of a Deranged Mind.”

But Mr. Mojica’s cinema alter ego, Coffin Joe, a crazed and sadistic undertaker who always appears in a uniform of black, complete with top hat, cape and gruesome fingernails, is a different story altogether.


You will be able to read the full version on the next Sunday paper edition. Or, check this little video summary prepared by Rohter.


The best Brazilian book covers

The winners of the main Brazilian literary award, Prêmio Jabuti, were announced yesterday. Among them, “Ribamar”, by José Castello, considered last year’s best novel; “1822”, by Laurentino Gomes, the best journalistic book, and “Em alguma parte alguma”, by Ferreira Gullar, that got the poetry award.

The Best Cover Award went to João Baptista da Costa Aguiar, that created a sober cover for “Invisível”, the Brazilian version for Paul Auster’s “Invisible”, edited by Companhia das Letras.

You will find here the list of book covers that got the award in past years. (Tip: 2007 was a particularly inspired year)


  • 1º – O resto é ruído – Escutando o século XX – cover by Retina 78, published by Companhia das Letras.




  • 2º – Salas e Abismos – cover by Zot Design, Rara Dias, Ana Carolina Carneiro and Paula Delecave, published by Cosac Naify.


  • 3º – Os Espiões – cover by Rodrigo Rodrigues, published by Ed Objetiva.

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Children’s songs from Bahia

Girl from Chapada dos Guimarães, Bahia. Photo by Otávio Nogueira/Flickr
Girl from Chapada dos Guimarães, Bahia. Photo by Otávio Nogueira/Flickr

Listen to these wonderful children songs from the countryside of the Southwest region of Bahia state, collected by Project Cantigas de Infância. It was conceived by Christiana Fausto, that spent her childhood in that region, and wanted to keep the memory of those songs alive. She collected their lyrics and partitions and also 18 downloadable songs. They speak of love, family, complex relationships – or challenge you with tongue twisters.

Con cuis cuis

Moda do viuvo


O Ze

Read also: Scary Brazilian Lullabies


Brazilian ingenues

Lelita Rosa and Carlos Modesto in “Barro Humano”/Human Mud (1927/29)

Brazil had its own ingenues – national versions of the naïf but sexy leading ladies that Hollywood made famous in the first decades of film making. If the US had Claudette Colbert and Clara Bow, Brazil had Lelita Rosa, Didi Vianna and Tamar Moema, who starred Humberto Mauro’s movies in the twenties and thirties. Considered the greatest Brazilian early film maker, Mauro directed “Ganga Bruta”, “Brasa Dormida” and 12 other movies.

Check here his muses’ performances:

Lelita Rosa

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10 (acoustic) guitar heroes from Brazil

Yamandu Costa in photo by André Zsep/ Wikipedia

It is very difficult to list the best acoustic guitar player in a country of major guitar players. But, if you browse the guitar fora that discuss this topic on the web, you will find a few recurrent names:

1 – Raphael Rabello – this guitar demi-god died young, at 33, in 1985, but it is impossible not to include him in this list. Here he plays “Luiza”, by Tom Jobim, the song that inspired my daughter’s name.

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Gorgeous Maracatu

Maracatu Baquenambuco. Photos by Passarinho/the local Government of the city of Olinda/Flickr
Maracatu Baquenambuco. Photos by Passarinho/the local Government of the city of Olinda/Flickr

Maracatu is one of the best examples of fusion of Portuguese, African and Native Brazilian traditions. It is, basically, a street procession of a king, his queen and the court, followed by a percussion band. It evolved from the crowning of the Congo king, a popular festival apparently originated in Olinda, Pernambuco state. The music evolved from the chants played during Congadas, folk cerimonies that culminate with the election of the king and the queen of the Black Nation.

The details may vary and may include a multitude of princesses, fake Natives covered in feathers and baianas (women dressed in huge baloon skirts, white turbans and golden necklaces). They may pass around the calunga, a rag doll attached to a baton. The group is followed by the percussion orchestra that plays drums of different sizes, shakers, snares and agogô.

There are three main styles – Maracatu Nação, Maracatu Rural and Maracatu Cearense, this one practiced in the state of Ceará. Maracatu Nação or de Baque Virado originated in the early 18th century in Olinda, while Maracatu Rural, initiated in the 19th century in the countryside of Pernambuco. It includes a pilgrimage and a big reunion in Recife, the state capital.

Same source. Photo by Evane Manco
Same source. Photo by Evane Manco


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Caipira music, the real roots folk from Brazil

cacique e pageMúsica caipira, the music style that has its origins in the Brazilian countryside, somewhere around 1920, has a vague resemblance with Mexican ranchera music and Paraguayan guaranias – it is also sung by a performer with a guitar (although in Brazil they normally come in pairs) and deals with love drama, nostalgia, and rural life.

In the last twenty years, it got increasingly influenced by American country music and was re-baptized as música sertaneja, which is hugely popular in the states of São Paulo, Minas Gerais, Goiás, Paraná and Mato Grosso do Sul. Electric guitars were introduced and cowboy uniform was adopted by groomed, rich looking lead singers. Sertanejos Zezé di Camargo and Luciano even got a Latin Grammy Award last year, for their Double Face CD.

But before the boom of sertanejos, there was the real deal – roots caipira music. Here are some wonderful classics:

Chitãozinho and Xororó – Saudades da minha terra

Almir Sater – Tocando em Frente

Sérgio Reis – Menino da Porteira

Cacique and Pagé – Pescador e Catireiro

Liu and Léu – Boiadeiro Errante

Alvarenga and Ranchinho singing the love story of a skeleton couple in a cemetery.

Raul Torres and Florêncio – Mourão da Porteira

Tibagi and Miltinho – Orgulhosa e Bonita

7 memorable TV historic series

A Muralha/The Big Wall
A Muralha/The Big Wall

Brazilian TV, namely Rede Globo network, produced some high-quality historic series. These ones definitely deserve a visit:

1 – Casa das Sete Mulheres – Probably the best historic series ever produced in the country. Its about the Revolução Farroupilha, also known as Guerra dos Farrapos, a 10-year revolution that opposed the landowners of the Southern state of Rio Grande do Sul and the federal government. It also depicts the Brazilian phase of Giuseppe Garibaldi, the Italian revolutionary that sided with the gaúchos and then went back to Europe, where he fought to unify his country.

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