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Beauty and the Beat

Beauty
    and the
    Beat

Bahia has a new muse. Banda Eva sells one million CDs and projects
Ivete Sangalo as the new rising star in axé music. Ivete pursues her destiny of
muse maintaining her form.
By Kirsten Weinoldt

When, at the end of the last decade, she opened for Geraldo Azevedo in Centro Cultural
João Gilberto, in Salvador, state of Bahia, it probably did not occur to the adolescent
Ivete that eight years later she would come to be considered the new star of axé..

Ivete Sangalo, whose full name is Ivete Maria Dias de Sangalo, started her career at 15
influenced by Elis Regina. It was only in ’93 that she got up on a trio elétrico to
sing professionally. During that period, with her influence by Elis, her total preference
was for MPB (Brazilian popular music), blues, and soul, she did not trade Gilberto Gil and
Cassiano for any other composer.

Music has always been part of Ivete’s life. At 15, ruffling feathers at Juvenile Court,
she already sang in bars and night clubs in Salvador where she arrived still in infancy
with her family. At a show in Bar Canoa at the Hotel Meridien, she met Jonga, director of
Bloco Eva and percussionist for Companhia Click, the group from which sprang Daniela
Mercury.

"He was forming Banda Eva and invited me to be the vocalist", she remembers.
"Even though I had already won the Troféu Caymmi (the principal prize of Bahian
music) as a promising newcomer, I was scared at the invitation because until then I was
just a reveler of Carnaval, having never been on a Trio Elétrico, not even as a
fan."

Fact is that in mid 1993 she started her career as vocalist of Banda Eva. After several
rehearsals, some shows—one of which in Brasília in the stadium of the Academia de
Tênis. Finally, the following year, she made her debut at Carnaval. Now she works side by
side with her husband, Alexandre Santos Lins, who is a member of the band.

"My first Carnaval was not in Salvador, but in Ilhéus." After this she began
participating in Micaretas in front of alternative groups, and little by little, she
became known. "We recorded our first CD for Sony, which was not released. But the
song "Adeus Bye Bye" was a success. Maria Bethânia sang it in a show."

Soon after, the band recorded an independent CD, which was distributed by PolyGram.
"With the explosion of songs like "Flores" (Flowers) and "Alô
Paixão", (Hello, Passion), we came to the end of our contract with the recording
company. From the third CD we began to show profit. That and the following sold more than
100,000 copies."

The same happened this year. The CD recorded right after Carnaval in the green area of
Othon Palace in Salvador with participation by an audience of 5,000 people, was
responsible for that, exposing yet again the band and its vocalist.

"This work was done with much care and professionalism. In two nights of total
communion with the audience, we were able to show with all our energy a mixture made of
pop and Bahian rhythms." The result of this alchemy is a million copies sold of Ao
Vivo, (Live) in six months.

"I’m sure that whoever goes into a store and buys the CD, takes home every
ingredient of the show from the atmosphere to the great repertoire," affirms the
singer, also acclaimed for her long-lined beauty. The album reunited Banda Eva’s major
successes. "Flores" and "Alô Paixão" as well as "Levada
Louca" (Crazy Mischief).

"There is also our version of "Quando Eu Te Vejo" (When I See You) by
Olodum and "Tão Seu," (So Much Yours) by Skank as well as "Eva," a
song launched by the band RádioTaxi, which was incorporated into the repertoire of Banda
Eva—and "Coleção" (Collection) by my idol, Cassiano," says Ivete.

The success of Banda Eva, which takes Ivete Sangalo to super exposure in the media,
will gradually change the rhythm of the singer’s life. "Clearly, it’s difficult to go
shopping, to movies and restaurants, but I continue to go the gym as much in Salvador as
in other cities where we perform. Maintaining a good shape is one of Ivete’s obsessions.
"I’m careful with my body. I work out quite a bit, I don’t smoke, drink, or use
drugs, and I eat a healthy diet. I need to be in shape. After all, I spend a lot of energy
when I’m on stage."

Banda Eva has been the most gratifying surprise of Bahian music in the past couple of
years. Named the best newcomer of Carnaval two years ago, the band subsequently exploded
onto the national scene and reached millions of people with their contagious music. Their
shows became the most attended, and Ivete Sangalo chosen as the muse of the new generation
of voices in Bahia. The band does not just return as sharp as in Hora H, (The Nick
of Time), the last CD, but with the repeat performance of producer Mazzola makes a
resounding earthquake with Beleza Rara, (Rare Beauty).

It is on the 12 tracks, as well as the bonus track in Spanish of the anticipated hit
"Química Perfeita," (Perfect Chemistry), that the self confidence and musical
talent of Banda Eva comes out on the CD, which fuses MPB, axé, merengue,
samba, reggae, and baião with a delicious "Latin-ness". The
all-embracing and beautiful voice of Ivete Sangalo punctuates the songs with an energy and
delicacy that can make one’s hair stand on end. It was not for nothing that Maria
Bethânia publicly demonstrated her satisfaction with the singer and the band.

Recorded in the studio of Impressão Digital, in Rio de Janeiro, Beleza Rara
wins over the listener at the first audition. The CD, which is already reaching the mass
audience in Bahia and other parts of Brazil, opens with a soft beat in the title song by
Ed Grandão and Nego John, and comes together with the vibrant tremble of "Levada
Louca" by Gílson Babilônia, Lula Carvalho, and Alain Tavares and mixes with the
happiness in "Onda de Desejo" (Wave of Desire) by Carlinhos Marques and Cabral.

The cry of war and pride of the incendiary "Eva, o Bloco" (Eva, the Group),
by Clori Roger, shows clearly what Eva is on the Bahian scene: One of the most credible
and explosive bands in the land of all the saints (Salvador is located in Baía de Todos
os Santos, Bay of All Saints). Saudade do Ilê (Longing for the African House of Cult) by
Clóvis Cruz and Gilberto Timbaleiro confirms that the group, according to the voice of
Ivete, seeks to stay away from clichés. Evidence of this is the most personal arrangement
of "Menino do Rio" (Boy from Rio), Caetano Veloso’s classic.

Singer Netinho makes a special guest appearance on the delightful fusion of Latin and
Bahian music in "Química Perfeita" (Perfect Chemistry) by the duo Peña and
Guadalupe with lyrics in Portuguese by Gê Alves Pinto. The title already says it all, the
meeting of the two voices and rhythm galore is about to burst upon the international
scene.

The beat of "É Agora"(It Is Now) carries the first contribution of composer
Ivete for the CD, next to saxophonist Paulinho Andrade. To prove that she is not just the
owner of a powerful and versatile voice, Ivete herself composed the beautiful
"Chorando Saudades" (Crying With Longing), a romantic song, which is one of the
best of the band. Banda Eva caps off the celebration with the electrifying and passionate
"Idioma da Paixão" (Language of Passion) by David Sales and "Amei
Demais," (I Loved Too Much) by Mônica Sangalo. Beleza Rara is a brilliant and
seductive collection of musicality by a group in time with the strong and well-trained
singer. It is a powerful concoction of pulsating bass, electric guitars, keyboards, and
saxophone. This lays the perfect base for Ivete Sangalo’s talent, and this is the rare
beauty of Banda Eva.

More certain than the attendance of crowds in the heart of Pelô (Pelourinho, the
historical district of Salvador, Bahia) at Carnaval is the presence of Ivete on top of a trio
elétrico. The singer of Banda Eva made the commitment to appear at a variety of
events and promised to give her all to places and people who would invite her. The energy
of the Baiana (woman from Bahia) who transformed the group—one among a
multitude of groups—into one of the most successful and lucrative in Brazil ( the
last CD already passed the 1.2 million mark of copies sold) seems limitless. This past
year alone saw about 350 shows with Metropolitan (in Rio) on the horizon. And Ivete has no
intention of stopping.

"When we issued our fist CD in ’92, we only sold 20,000 copies. From then on I did
everything I could to make our music accessible to people." The singer’s stubbornness
had immediate results. This year she unseated Daniela Mercury from the post of
best-selling female Brazilian singer ( Mercury’s CD Feijão com Arroz, (Beans With
Rice) sold 400,000 copies fewer than Banda Eva’s CD). Ivete tries to deal with the
constant comparison between the two. "I’m a fan of Daniela’s. It was she who gave us
a chance to show our work to a recording company."

From the bar circuit to the position in which she currently finds herself, the rapid
ascent blends with Ivete’s objectives. If she used to think of herself as a singer taking
the first big step, she now intends to firm up her image as a composer. "I don’t
dismiss the possibility of pursuing a solo career," she says, "but at the
moment, the association with the band is so marvelous that I can’t even think about
it."

It is not just the relationship with the band which is going well. The executives at
PolyGram, which records the band, all but rolled out the red carpet for Ivete. "They
recommended that I go to New York at Christmas to research fashion designers, but I think,
really, that they wanted me to take a rest."

Far from home, Ivete worries about the future of her family. Her producer, Caco de
Telha, looks after the other talents of the house. The group Fera Gorda (Fat Beast) led by
her brother Jesus Sangalo, is her best bet: "They’re all heavy, my brother being the
lightest at 140 kilos (308 lbs.). They play it all. I’m also administering the career of
my sister, Mônica, a romantic guitarist."

Ivete pursues her destiny of muse naturally. Maintaining her form with a personal
trainer, she does 300 abdominals per day and uses an ergometric bike with certain
frequency. She says she is not worried about her appearance. A makeup artist, hairdresser,
and a secretary/advisor contradict her statement. "They worry too much about
me," Ivete jokes.

In the past several months, Ivete has made contact with composers like Carlinhos Brown
and Celso Fonseca, thinking of the repertoire of the next CD by Banda Eva. "We met in
Gilberto Gil’s dressing room, and she came and asked me for a song," says Celso
Fonseca. "I have about four different songs to show her. I’d love to see one of my
songs sung by Ivete because I consider her one of the most charismatic singers in
Brazil."

A large part of this charisma has to do with her stage presence, which exudes a
contagious energy, which leaves the audience feeling exhausted. Having been elected the
muse for the campaign for the prevention of AIDS by the Ministry of Health, Ivete likes to
share her thoughts on good health and fitness. When she performs at Carnaval, she starts
at 1 in the afternoon and does not stop until well into the night—most of the time
under the scalding sun. Thus, she fully understands the importance of hydration of her
body as well as her skin, using a strong sunscreen.

For her nutrition, she has consulted Suely de Oliveira, coordinator of post graduation
studies at the Nutrition Clinic of the Institute of Nutrition in Santa Casa. It was
recommended her to diminish the intake of saturated fats, such as what is found in red
meat and increase the intake of carbohydrates like pasta, bread, and vegetables. Another
emphasis is on hydration. Suely de Oliveira tells her that if she comes to feel thirsty,
she has already waited too long for fluid intake. Alcohol, too, is a dehydrating factor
when working in the hot sun, and she advises to refrain from drinking.

She further tells Ivete to get enough rest. The body can stand living without rest for
several days, but one must "catch up" and get sufficient sleep for mental and
physical well being. Ivete has carefully researched the cosmetics products, which are
right for her type of skin and style of living. As well as using Spectra Ban to protect
against the sun, her makeup made by Mac, also contain a sun filter. She also emphasizes
the importance of keeping the skin clean with Clinique soap and clarifying tonic. Lancôme
products are also on her list of recommendations for beauty and health.

Her physical regimen is strict. Two hours of exercise per day consisting of 30-40
minutes on the exercise bike, 30 minutes with weights, and the rest with abdominal
exercises as well as a run at the end of the day, makes up her daily routine. Then, when
she steps onto the stage to start a performance, she is ready to dance and sing, thrilling
her growing, enthusiastic audiences.

Kirsten Weinoldt was born in Denmark and came to the U.S. in 1969. She fell
in love with Brazil after seeing Black Orpheus many years ago and has lived
immersed in Brazilian culture ever since. E-mail: kwracing@erols.com

 

You can
order Banda Eva’s CDs online at Music Boulevard. This link will take you
directly to the band discography.  And you will also be able to listen to samples of
Brazilian musicians.

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