Singer-songwriter Sarah Alencar reveals her first album, titled ‘Nuestro Encontro’, in a live performance. This inaugural album by the artist features new compositions, combining traditional dance rhythms with powerful arrangements strongly influenced by the sounds of the 70s.
The show features special appearances by Ana Flor de Carvalho and Alice Oliveira, promising an immersive musical experience. The performance is not restricted to music alone, incorporating scenic elements and projections, in an artistic expression that seeks to evoke roots and ancestry. With musical production by Sarah Alencar and Carlos Eduardo Samuel, the show is a journey to bring history to life, celebrating the richness of Brazilian and Latin culture.
The release of ‘Nuestro Encontro’ marks an important stage in the career of Sarah Alencar, who seeks to express her roots and ancestry through music. How does the artist describe this journey of creating and releasing her first album?
It all started with the need to continue working during social isolation. Until that moment I was part of music and theater collectives, but I hardly thought about a solo career. Without being able to carry out collective projects, I ended up selling some shows online with my songs in voice and guitar format and that started to come to life. I was also pregnant and the contrasting feelings of the joy of having a child and the loneliness and concern for the health and political moment in which we were living resulted in a lot of musical subject matter.
Becoming a mother also gave me a lot of strength to carry on, caring less about other people’s opinions, which I believe is a huge deterrent to artistic work out there. Nothing can be more difficult and important than creating a human being, so why not an album?
In addition to the influences of traditional Brazilian-Latin rhythms, what other musical inspirations did Sarah Alencar incorporate into the album ‘Nuestro Encontro’?
I come from rock. I started my career on the underground stages of my hometown, Goiânia, in central Brazil. Additionally, I studied a lot of concert music in the formal teaching environments I attended. I can say that the word “multiplicity” is the word that best defines my work. From this point of view, I find a lot of resonance in the work of Milton Nascimento and the Clube da Esquina movement, in the 70s. At that time they were already mixing traditional Brazilian rhythms, with other Latin and rock rhythms. I’m still at this school.
The presence of special guests, such as Ana Flor de Carvalho and Alice Oliveira, enriches the presentation. How did these collaborations happen and how important are they to the show?
Ana Flor de Carvalho is a jewel in Brazilian music. He is in the process of releasing his first album, but has already released some singles. The Carvalho family greatly enriches São Paulo culture by bringing Festo do Boi from Maranhão and surrounding areas. The artist sings with me on the album and in the show one of the most striking songs, Loba, which is half reggae, half xote, and we mention a list of warriors who fought for their people, her voice and intense presence are essential for the song to be interpreted with the strength you ask for.
Alice Oliveira is my long-time partner. She has an incredible ability to create beautiful melodic lines. She sings with me the song Acalanto, in which the arrangement begins as an intimate lament, a lullaby and is revealed until it becomes a sweet and strong cry, of pain and beauty, like motherhood. In this final part, Alice’s sweet voice joins mine in an intense vocal improvisation.
The show promises a multi-language experience, with stage direction and projections. How do these elements add layers to the performance and narrative of the songs?
Nuestro Encontro is an immersion proposal. It talks about looking at things that co-inhabit and make us who we are. We want to create a space where people feel immersed, walking with us from start to finish along a path of emotions, which find in the maternal figure an archetype of humanity itself. To this end, we created an environment of sensorial experience on stage, in which projections and the entire visual identity add to the sounds of the songs, inviting the audience to enter this universe of affections. The connection between the artists on stage was also worked on in the stage direction, always focusing on the relationships, the encounters, that make us subjects.
Within the context of the show, how does the artist seek to connect with the audience and convey the message behind her songs?
The show is permeated with poetry. In addition to the song lyrics, there are 2 moments of spoken poetry. These are key moments, of bringing into very direct communication what sounds and visuals have been bringing in a more abstract scope. Furthermore, we seek to be very dedicated and at ease in the present moment of exchange with the public. In the conversations, stories about meetings are told and I also talk a little about why the album title: Nuestro Encontro is after all about meetings. It happens as a result of my experience of motherhood. In Portuguese, he talks about the encounter between languages, in a movement to understand Brazil as part of Latin America; it also talks about the encounter between people, that it is in the encounter that we are people; in a more intimate and also super political context, it talks about my encounter with myself that happened in my encounter with my daughter and everything that involves. As poet Carina Castro said, the album is about giving birth to one’s own story.
The album ‘Nuestro Encontro’ was produced during the pandemic. How did this context influence the creative process and the content of the songs?
That’s how I responded at the beginning: the album comes at this moment out of a need to reinvent ways of working during social isolation. Furthermore, there are songs on the album that describe the feeling of raising a child in this context of fear and loneliness. In Brazil, we had the misfortune of going through this global crisis alongside an unprecedented political crisis, of which we are still living the consequences. Social isolation is over, but we still live in a time of great economic instability. The pandemic and Bolsonaro profoundly affected the field of arts, which was already difficult. We are trying to get back on our feet.
Can we expect any surprises or special moments during the live performance at Casa de Cultura do Butantã?
Yes! I recommend taking a tissue, because these are strong emotions!
Sarah Alencar mentions the importance of expressing her roots and ancestry in the show. How is this reflected in the song selection and performance on stage?
There is a piece of poetry in the show that says “you have to know how to be a flower and soil” (Carina Castro). This relationship with ancestry is there: it takes a deep, rooted and related connection to everything that came before, so that it can flourish and bear fruit. In this place, we work with traditional rhythms, which have roots in traditional cultures and for this we have two percussionists on stage and with very pulsating and danceable music. The show ends with the song Nazaré, a baião about my grandmother and we leave the stage with a recording of another poem by Carina Castro, closing the cycle, in which she says “I see my grandmother in my daughter’s smile”, in a movement of close this cycle.
The ‘Nuestro Encontro’ project explores multiple vocalities and includes improvisations and choral arrangements. How does the artist approach creative freedom and spontaneity on stage?
Everything in the show is about the present moment. It could only be performed very spontaneously, with the joy and emotion of offering a moment of exchange between the people on stage and the audience. Regarding spontaneity, I can also say that I directed the artistic process of the album, always prioritizing listening. As I have formal training and am a music researcher, I try to let the technique come almost naturally and not let the music be hostage to the technique.
More specifically on the vocal issue, we were concerned with giving a very human face to the vocals, playing a lot with timbre variations and resources such as grunts and screams. The voice appears a lot together with the corporality of the people singing on stage.
In addition to the album release, what are Sarah Alencar’s next steps and future projects in music?
Now we are in the phase of offering the show and we want to run it a lot. Between us, in addition to being an artist, I am also a researcher and I am starting doctoral research in which I intend to develop a new album based on studies of the production practice of Nuestro Encontro.
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