The group Pé de Manacá presents in its inaugural album, “Pra Raiar”, a fascinating immersion into the universe of fiddle forró. This musical project, composed exclusively of women, delves deeply into the cultural riches of Brazil, showcasing a journey of exploration and celebration of the potential of this musical genre. This work, the result of research and in-depth study, is now available on the main streaming platforms.
Inspired by the traditional roots of forró, exploring a context in which the fiddle played a prominent role even before the accordion, the album reveals the dedication to a tradition carried on by many women. Some of these pioneers are honored and participate in the album, strengthening a connection between generations and styles. In six of the album’s ten tracks, voices and instruments from masters and renowned musicians such as Anastácia, Ana Maria Carvalho, Neide Nazaré, Ana Flor de Carvalho, Thais Ribeiro and Wanessa Dourado join Pé de Manacá, creating an authentic Brazilian symphony.
Each song on the album “Pra Raiar” is a unique narrative, from the evocation of memories and songs in the title track to the festive and traditional celebration in the last song, “Pra Ver o Folguedo Passar”. The quartet and their special guests create a rich sound panorama that highlights diverse cultural aspects, from the influences of cocos de roda and Afro-Brazilian traditions in “Cor do Mar” to the magic of games and lively traditions in the vibrant “Pé de Pulo”.
The album title itself reflects the essence of the work, inspired by the homonymous track that tells the story of a seed that sprouts, grows and spreads. “Pra Raiar” is a tribute to the older women who paved the way for the following generations, allowing young artists from Pé de Manacá to cultivate their own artistic expressions.
Furthermore, the group received support from the São Paulo state government’s Cultural Action Program (ProAc), a valuable incentive for arts and culture in the state. The release of “Pra Raiar” is a tribute to tradition and an emotional tribute to the women who paved the way for the next generation of artists.
Explain more about choosing the title “Pra Raiar” for the album. How does this choice reflect the content and message the group wants to convey?
The album “Pra Raiar” is an inaugural album, a arrival… in this sense, the title, in a simple way, expresses our discoveries as musicians, artists, composers and researchers and also reflects the desire to build partnerships, the basis for our existence as a group and for the way we see Brazilian music! It is, above all, a request for permission and a celebration. That’s where the title “Pra Raiar” comes from. Being the name of the composition made during the pandemic by Sofia and Alice, the song brings with it the story of the seed that germinates, grows, takes root and branches. The conversation between the seed and the sunrise then emerges when the old woman is sung in her rocking chair, following the dawn of the day packed with memories and emotions. In a poetic and simple way, the title of the album pays tribute to our elders, ladies who came before and followed different paths so that we can now germinate our seeds in the world too, continuing with, for and for them.
It’s fascinating to see the collaboration with masters and other respected musicians on the album. How have these partnerships contributed to the richness and diversity of the work?
When we were sure that our compositions would become an original album and we were awarded ProAc, a SP state government program of extreme importance for promoting arts and cultures in our state, we decided to invite six women, artists, to record with us. who we consider our partners and some of our greatest references and masters of forró and other traditional Brazilian cultures. We also invited Aline Falcão, a musician and arranger, who we had already admired and followed her work for some time, to take over as director and music producer. Alongside Aline, we created a daily routine of exchanges and collective constructions in rehearsals that led to the rearrangements of some songs, complete rearrangements of others, and the creation of new introductions and musical interludes. Thus, the compositions that previously roamed freely in our repertoire created a more consolidated body, a firmer interpretation and a meaning as a unique album.
The invitation to the six guests promotes exchange between different generations of women composers who maintain their artistic work today, in addition to valuing the artistic and cultural expressiveness of forró, and promoting and strengthening the historical and contemporary performance of women in this scene. In the experience of coexistence in rehearsals and in the studio during recordings, each of the invited musicians teaches us and leaves their mark on the process of creating and performing their musicality, which reflects the richness of the results of the songs they participated in on the album.
What was the research process like to rescue and honor the traditions of rabeca forró? What were the challenges and discoveries along the way?
Research on forró performed with the fiddle has accompanied the group since its foundation and, in this sense, throughout our trajectory we have sought to learn and delve deeper into the traditions and other artistic works that carry forward the most diverse sounds created by this instrument. We can consider that one of the challenges encountered in this search is coexistence with masters of these traditions, an approach that often becomes difficult due to the distance we are in relation to their territories of origin – since, for the most part, our references in the fiddle live in northeastern states. To deal with these challenges, much of our effort is focused on researching phonographic and audiovisual references. However, whenever possible, we get in touch with our references during their visits to São Paulo, moments in which we deepen our exchanges of experiences with masters.
In many tracks, there is a mix of voices and styles. Can you share a little about the process of creating these collaborations and how it enriched the songs?
It was a great honor and privilege to be able to count on the musicality and knowledge of so many special guests, each with their own rich and unique trajectory in the world of arts and music. In ‘Pra Raiar’, a composition by Alice Vaz and Sofia Baroukh, for example, Master Ana Maria Carvalho, teacher and inspiration for the group, opens the wings of the album with her songs of ‘aboio’, which reveals to those who listen both the richness of his voice and his trajectory. Ana Maria expands the meaning of this song, which becomes a tribute to her career as a master. In the process, we felt the honor of being able to produce with her, as well as linking our creations to hers, in this union between times and generations.
In “Amor das Águas Doces”, the first composition made together and in the group’s former formation, the bashful xotezinho expands his enchantment with Thais Ribeiro, who brings in the voice and timbre of the accordion an old lament, felt and at the same time light and delicious, about the paths of life, departures and rebirths.
“Velho Caçuá”, is the first composition made in the new formation, when Beatriz Da Matta joins the group, which has the swing of a forró that catches fire in the hall and a characteristic introduction of the forró pé-de-serra. Neide Nazaré brought the strength of her voice to music, reminding us and teaching us how to bring intentionality to the choruses and words we sing.
“Pé de Pulo”, a composition by Alice Vaz and Marcos Lou, the revolutionary interpretation of friend and musical partner Ana Flor de Carvalho and her close relationship with the group’s trajectory makes the music more beautiful, and elevates the choir to a total of five voices, which impacts the listener even more. The arrangement composed with musical direction by Aline Falcão takes us to a solemn ciranda, and also includes a foot-dragging that ends the track in an atmosphere of fair, party and party, paying homage to all the guests on the album and other inspirations from the group’s trajectory. .
“Flor de Maio” is a new composition made in partnership with Anastácia, the Queen of Forró, who, based on a motto, very kindly welcomed and encouraged us in this process of joint creation between us and Aline Falcão. Bringing in a poetic, ambiguous and even ironic way the vision of old loves and the sorrows that pass, flow and are thrown into the water to run downstream, the song reminds us very beautifully of the beauty of letting go and respecting the time of life, opening up to new things and venturing into the unknown that takes us on different paths. For the group, above all, it is a joy and an immense honor to receive such a gift from the Queen of Forró, who accepted the invitation and embraced us in the process of composing the song. The name of the song and the last verse come, then, as a tribute to this partnership and inspiration. Seeing this master enter the studio and the way in which, with mastery and mastery, she interprets the lyrics was an immense learning and pleasure for the group and everyone present at the moment.
“Pra Ver o Folguedo Passar” ends the album in an atmosphere of merrymaking, street parties and fun. The composition is the result of a beautiful meeting between Alice Vaz and Wanessa Dourado, violinist, fiddle player and partner of the group. In times of pandemic, the two musicians connected through Wanessa’s musicality and Alice’s poetics, and in one fell swoop this fiddle forró was born, with playful verses and an instrumental chorus-introduction. With the musical direction of Aline Falcão, the track also received an elaborate arrangement of conversations between the two fiddle players and the percussions of a procession that passes on the street and enchants everyone who sees it. Making reference to different rhythms such as samba and ijexá, the album ends with all this energy of sound encounters and calling everyone: “Come and see the fun light up!”
The album covers several narratives, from evocations of memories to celebrations of festivals and traditions. Can you tell us more about the meaning behind a specific track that is particularly special to the group?
“Canto de Rabeca” is the fifth track on the album and found its place exactly like that, halfway through. Composed by Maria Carolina and Alice Vaz, the song posed challenges from the beginning: doubts regarding the possibilities of arrangements, instrumentation, tempos and tonalities… so much so that, when we entered the studio to record the tracks, this was the the only song that did not yet have a closed, defined arrangement. Today, with the album finally released, we realize with relief: these uncertainties and doubts, previously a reason for some anguish, were characteristics that the song needed to adopt and were already intuited by its own narrative, a lyric that brings with it the feeling of the impossible. Through its fluid sound, the song walks through the unlikely paths of life when, when attempting the impossible, we are presented with the simple, natural and even obvious. Like a painful conformity, but also realistic, firm and solid, the composition has an arrangement inspired by different Brazilian rhythms such as baião, xaxado and bumba meu boi, and gains a new interpretation in the voice of Beatriz Da Matta.
How does the exclusively female presence in the group influence the musical dynamics and the message transmitted through the music?
Being a band composed only of women directly influences our work, as we can quickly recognize gender issues that permeate our work as artists, and little by little work on them, take care of them, avoid possible external crossings that could be exhausting, strengthen us, as well as other artists and groups in similar contexts. We know, for example, that the universe of Brazilian popular music, in our focus, forró, still gives more space, value, work and visibility to groups that are mostly male (cis). In our context (as four cis and mostly/socially white women), we identify this issue, which crosses us. In our work, we try to bring people to the center who do not have this space, covering other minority issues (race, class, others). The preparation of choices for hiring professionals in the ProAc project, which allowed the release of our first original album, had this focus, for example.
As a group composed only of cis women, we discuss and think about these issues, which are reflected in our musical compositions, partnerships, arrangements, lyrics. This appears in our posture on stage at shows and that is why we believe it appears as a message for those who listen to us.
Tell us about the decision to invite Aline Falcão as director and music producer. How did this collaboration impact the outcome of the album?
We already admired Aline Falcão’s work and had the desire for this partnership even before we started the album process as a result of our approval at ProAc. Aline had been musical director of the debut album by Flor de Imbuia, a forró-de-rabeca group from Salvador-BA, also composed exclusively of women. In a first attempt at writing a project for recording our album, we had already spoken with Aline, who shared with us the collective creation process she had conducted with Flor de Imbuia’s partners, something we wanted for our own work. In addition to this proposal for immersion in our compositions, within a perspective of collective contribution that Aline brought, we also trusted in her brilliance as a musician and arranger.
When we finally moved on to the album’s completion phase, we called Aline Falcão to take over as director and music producer. Alongside it, we created an intense daily routine of exchanges and collective constructions in rehearsals that led to the reharmonization of some songs, complete rearrangements of others, and the creation of new introductions and musical interludes. Thus, the compositions that previously roamed freely in our repertoire created a more consolidated body, a firmer interpretation and a meaning as a unique album.
In addition to the musicality, the album seems to be a celebration of Brazilian culture. How does Pé de Manacá see the role of music in preserving and promoting culture?
Music passes from generation to generation, carries tradition and marks the specificities of each community context. It deepens the technology of human and community relations, serves as a vehicle for poetry, when transformed into a song, it is a toy, I pray, it produces hope, a means of resistance, it reveals and assists working processes and conditions. Music is culture itself, which when perpetuated continues to be promoted.
Our work celebrates Brazilian culture by referencing forró, created in northeastern regions, which sings the context of work, prayer, which reveals at the same time the scarcity of basic resources and good survival in country communities and wealth, creation and cultural detail without equal nor precedents. Forró is Brazil’s cultural heritage, now widespread throughout the country and not only, but in many corners of the world! The idea for the album, for example, arises from the purpose of spreading and valuing forró pé-de-serra and other rhythms of popular northeastern cultures in São Paulo – a state whose northeastern culture is present in the face of countless migrations to the southern state – through the eyes of women composers, musicians and researchers from the capital of São Paulo.
In particular, we can talk about the rabeca forró, an instrument that precedes the accordion in the history of forró, and that brings the group’s identity closer to the work of northeastern masters who are its main references today and over whom the group maintains a continuous research. This dialogue is important especially in a scenario in which fiddle and other traditional rhythms continue to be little known in the Southeast, even among the forró-consuming public.
Another element that we bring as an important sound feature of the group are the female choirs: with all four members being instrumentalists and singers, the vocal arrangements occupy a special place in the authorial compositions. It is no coincidence that female choirs have always been present in traditional forró pé-de-serra recordings, although the hired singers rarely have their identities properly disclosed. Against this often supporting role of singers in forró, we maintain permanent research into female references, still little known by the general public and, therefore, often undervalued by the music industry. We seek, through music, to promote the visibility of these forró pé-de-serra composers, considering that the recognition of masters and artists as supporters of this segment of popular culture is still necessary.
In terms of style and influences, how did you balance older forró traditions with a contemporary approach?
It is interesting to say that we do not see our work as a synthesis between traditional and contemporary influences, and that we also do not consider there to be a dichotomy between these two concepts. We have built an authorial work and, for this reason, much of what we bring to our compositions reflects on who we are, where we come from and in what time we live. However, we are aware that our artistic work only exists due to the existence of traditions – and, more than that, of people who maintain them – which continue to be alive and thriving. For us, traditions manifest themselves in a contemporary way, because they are maintained and reinvented over time, despite countless historical attempts at erasure. Perhaps it is not a question of balance, but of our own path that we try to trace by coming into contact with different influences of forró and popular cultures, influences that – it is important to highlight – still walk outside the mass market circuit of the music market.
How did the support from the Cultural Action Program (ProAc) contribute to the development of the album, and how important is this support for artists in the current music scene?
We can consider that approval in the Popular Music Album Recording category at ProAc was a watershed in our trajectory. With this approval, we received financial support and had access to a circuit of public cultural equipment, conditions that seriously guaranteed an entire chain of actions and needs that involve the production of an album. We see the support of public funds, aimed at promoting the arts and cultures of our state, not only as a way of valuing our work, to which we are entitled, but precisely as a way of sharing our achievements with society , which we understand to be fundamentally collective.
In this way, we can say that ProAc’s support allowed us to realize a dream for which we were already working independently and without any public or private funding, but it also created conditions for us to understand all the complexity that this work involves. From this perspective, we were able to see in more detail how crucial it is for the trajectory of independent artists to receive support from a public notice like the one we had access to. For this reason, we defend the continuity, improvement and expansion of public notices aimed at promoting arts and cultures in our country, taking into account the disparity between the demands of this sector and the real work prospects to which artists are subjected. .
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