Ju Cassou, an artist whose career transcends music, embracing theater, musical direction and even dubbing. His musical trajectory, rooted since childhood, is intertwined with a passion for performing on stage. Music is the essence, from musical literacy to classical studies and training in jazz. The diversity of her artistic experiences is the common thread that led her to explore new horizons, including the Brazilian dubbing of the iconic character Belle in Disney’s classic “Beauty and the Beast” (1991). After all, who could love a beast?
This journey, which included collaborations with big names in Brazilian music, led her to form and direct innovative vocal groups and explore her passion for music education. For Ju Cassou, sharing knowledge is a way of mutual learning, a way to make musical dreams come true for his students. Her recent projects, intertwined with the appreciation of indigenous culture and her role as a woman and artist, promise to continue to enrich the Brazilian cultural scene.
You had a musical career and worked as a theater actress and voice actress. How have these different artistic facets influenced your creative journey over the years?
Yes, music is like the air I breathe, the piano is my arm and my safe haven. I was musicalized at the age of 5 before I was literate, I learned to read/write music before going to school. Learning the Musical Language in this way made a big difference in my relationship with Music in general, it generated a much deeper intimacy with sound. Without considering that the formation of musical perception and memory was huge!
Studying classical piano, theory and harmony, then university of music, playing popular music and jazz, working with vocal groups in Rio de Janeiro, all of this led me to other arts, theater, dance, dubbing. I often say that I entered through the “Music window”! Performing on stage in shows being directed by great actors like Pedro Paulo Rangel, doing vocal preparation for theater casts, naturally inserted me into this professional artistic diversity.
You were part of the vocal group Garganta Profunda in Rio de Janeiro. How did this happen and how did it influence you artistically?
The “Orquestra de Vozes Garganta Profunda” was a completely innovative group at the time that brought a theatrical approach to choral/vocal singing. A completely performing group, it took advantage of all the skills of each member (in my case I was an instrumentalist and played the clarinet, wrote some arrangements, helped rehearse the sections, in addition to singing), explored humorous resources, and above all it was totally democratic. Zero prejudice. So I created myself “Artist” with a capital letter with total freedom. The conductor Marcos Leite met me at a festival in Londrina and later invited me to the group. I finished music university and moved to Rio. It was the best decision in my life.
In addition to your career as an artist, you have also been involved in teaching music. What are the most rewarding aspects of sharing your musical knowledge with others?
When I was still studying technical piano training, at the age of 14, I started teaching the instrument to a 5-year-old child, exactly as it happened to me! I never missed a day of teaching music again! I work with all ages, from beginners to professionals who want to improve their skills on piano/keyboard and singing. Teaching is learning, sharing, looking and listening to others, constantly observing yourself. There is no greater joy than making someone else’s dream come true. Being a facilitator, shortening paths with solid and fun tools is my greatest pleasure!
His first solo album, “Muito Prazer”, featured a special appearance by Jorge Benjor. Can you share with us how this collaboration came about and what was the highlight of this project for you?
When I was producing “Muito Prazer” I was invited to participate in the Projeto Novo Canto, where the new artist did his show and his “godfather” opened the show. I had to look for a godfather. The 1st song I learned to sing as a child was Chove Chuva! Because I loved Topo Gigio! So I sought contact with Benjor, sent my material and he agreed to be my sponsor on the project. We put on a beautiful show (it’s on my YouTube channel)! So I invited him to sing with me his song Paz e Arroz, which opened the album. Everything flowed naturally! Being on stage and in the studio with your idol is a privilege for few, they are eternal moments in the memory and in the heart. I wrote the arrangements for Muito Prazer, produced it and had incredible musicians both on the recording and at the shows. Delight!
You voiced the character Belle in the Brazilian version of the film “Beauty and the Beast”. What was the experience like voicing such an iconic Disney character?
I had never done voice acting work and being chosen by Disney USA through my audition was another great gift in my musical career. When the director arrived in Rio, he offered me the opportunity to take the in-person test to dub as an actress. And so everything worked out! I confess that at that time I didn’t realize the scale of this work, the repercussions that would lie ahead. Belle and I have infinite affinities, so it wasn’t at all difficult for me to delve into the interpretation: French culture, loving books, having a strong bond with my father, not being too “in line with standards and opinions”… it was a delight to live this story of courage, respect and true love without being fooled by appearances.
How many albums do you have in your musical career? Can you tell us a little about your latest projects?
I have four albums under my belt and many collaborations with artists singing, playing or arranging. My albums are Muito Prazer, Live in Germany, Koratã and Mborai, all independent and produced/arranged by me. I collaborated with artists such as Fabiano Medeiros, João Pinheiro, Bete Caligaris, Sérgio Natureza, Bernard Fines, Daniela Spielmann, Guego Favetti. I also recorded albums with several groups I participated in, such as “Garganta Profunda” and the German electronic Brazilian music band “Riovolt”. The vast majority of this material is available on YouTube and streaming (Spotify, Deezer, Apple…). During the pandemic I launched “Koratã”, a work that had been in the works for about ten years. With a cover by the great artist Elifas Andreato, I present my own compositions, partnerships, new songs and some songs in Guarani (recovering my paternal grandmother’s ancestry). In 2021 I did a beautiful project “Mborai”! I transcribed ten Guarani sacred chants into a trilingual sheet music book with explanatory texts (Guarani, Portuguese, English) which is available for free download on my website www.jucassou.com.br a heritage record for education, research and those interested in the subject. From this repertoire I selected six songs and released an EP singing in Guarani, but with Pop arrangements!
Their album “Live in Germany” was recorded in an intimate setting with a small group of musicians. What was the experience like performing this way and how did the audience react to this more intimate approach?
“Live in Germany” was recorded at the Pasinger Fabrik theater in Munich, a small and cozy theater. I met these two Brazilian musicians based there, Gilson de Assis (percussionist from Rio) and Márcio Tubino (sax/flutes from Rio Grande do Sul) and our musical harmony was incredible. In this trio there was a musical and energetic balance! Everything flowed very well between ideas, execution, professionalism and high spirits. We came from a series of shows and closed in this theater to record the album. We also recorded it on video, but I haven’t made that material available yet. With our individual experience of also playing in jazz clubs, being close to the public is just a pleasure! The audience vibrates with each improvisation, diving into my interpretations, creating a very special connection.
You also had a career directing music for plays and films. Can you share some of the challenges and rewards of this aspect of your career?
After the experience of recording many films, I was invited to provide musical direction for cartoons from companies such as Warner and Universal. It’s a huge responsibility that was only possible because I have a very solid and diverse basic musical background. Among the challenges are finding singers with suitable timbres, having a wide network of knowledge of people, being very agile in production and studio, having in-depth knowledge of choral practice and having the tact/sensitivity to direct the singers in the studio, managing to extract what they have. better. It’s not just about beautiful, in-tune voices, but about interpretation following an existing reference.
As a singer, instrumentalist and educator, doing this work is a complete achievement because I guide people, I am working with my “number one language” – reading and expressing Music!
Throughout your multifaceted career, what have been the most memorable or rewarding moments for you?
Without a doubt the show and recording with Benjor, the festivals I played in Germany, theater seasons such as the play “Nos temps de Martins Pena” with Sérgio Britto, my season of solo piano/voice shows in Sardinia, the shows with Garganta where I met great beloved artists like Braguinha and the pianist Luiz Eça from Tamba Trio, with whom I came to study and became very friends, and, watching Beauty and the Beast – Disney on Ice“at Maracanazinho listening to my voice in the packed stadium moving so many people! Unforgettable
Are you currently involved in any new or exciting projects that you would like to share with us?
During the pandemic I met many artists, musicians, writers and indigenous people from all over our Pindorama called Brazil. I was invited to participate in Mulherio das Letras and then we formed “Mulherio das Letras Indígenas”. We launched our Biographical Album Guerreiras da Ancestralidade and we have held soirees, conversation circles, activities at literary fairs, universities, schools, theaters… We are now more than one hundred indigenous women writers from numerous ethnicities and regions in our territory. We seek our space as doctors, pedagogues, artists, scientists, telling our realities and cultures through our writings.
I’ve been writing a lot and I hope to release new things soon. I also have new musical projects, both recording and books. Supporters, companies, interested in original content, call! We need to join hands and produce culture, leaving our creative and experienced legacy for the next generations!
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