A Minas Daughter Debut
By way of Philadelphia and now based in Austin, Texas, Anne Simoni hails from Minas Gerais in central Brazil. With admitted influences from Caetano Veloso, Milton Nascimento, Gilberto Gil and Maria Bethânia, Simoni’s debut album Minas Terra is as diverse musically as her influences. There is a little bit of samba, baião and bossa nova in the eleven original tracks she penned for the album. Her songs draw from everything Brazilian, be it the geography, the flora or the fauna.
Starting her musical education at eight years old, Anne took piano lessons before finally getting a classical guitar at age 15. Initially she self-taught the guitar, but later she moved to Belo Horizonte (the capital city of Minas Gerais), and took private guitar lessons. A law graduate, Anne moved to the U.S. in 1998 in order to study international law. It was inevitable, though, that music would speak louder and lead Anne to her musical passion.
Produced by Simoni herself, Minas Terra has a strong and varied band backing up Anne’s solid vocals. Sometimes also playing the guitar, Anne still finds room to showcase her talents as a percussionist with a surdo or triangle. Some of the musicians featured here include Edgar de Almeida (electric/bass guitar, cavaquinho, claves, synthesizer), Dickson Goulart (cuíca), Zé Bruno (percussion), Darnell Hillary (drums) and several others both from Brazil and the U.S. Anne’s voice at times will remind you of the strength you hear in Ana Carolina’s timbre, and just like Ana Carolina, Anne gives us pleasing vocals.
The opening track, “Águas de Cambuquira” introduces us to a beautiful area in Minas Gerais known as the water circuit. It just so happens that Cambuquira is Anne’s hometown. There are several waterfalls and parks in the area with different water types. The song lyrics are simple and tell the story of the region directly in a nice samba featuring Almeida on cavaquinho and Goulart on cuíca. Jumping quickly from central Brazil to the northeast, “Papagaio” is a vigorous baião covering the life of parrots that leave Brazil going abroad and “even having to learn English.” The lyrics innocence is very endearing and fit quite well the purity found in the simple life of northeast Brazil. Never forgetting her homeland of Minas Gerais, the title track, “Minas Terra,” longs for the home left behind and the dreams envisioned ahead. It is a beautiful modern toada, very typical to the Minas area. Keyboards and sampler programming were produced and performed here by Carlos Yutaka (from Sergio Mendes band).
All songs are performed in Portuguese with the exception of “Back to Brazil” and “Choose to Believe.” Of the two, the latter will probably feel more relaxed to the listener, but it is also the least Brazilian in the repertoire. Nevertheless, the strong lyrics make up for that distraction.
Though Anne’s vocals are strong, in some ballads, she shines smoothly with tenderness, as in “Espera” and “Longe de Mim.” Anne is comfortable doing rock ballads (“Retrato da Cidade”) as well as straight sambas. “Samba da Preguiça” is a cadenced samba again featuring Yutaka’s programming, whereas “Unidos da Lavra” could easily be used by any samba school in Rio de Janeiro.
You can learn more about the artist and her music by visiting her web site. Here she talks about the CD and performs a few sample songs:
Independent CP 0010 (2009)
All songs by Anne Simoni, except where noted.
- Águas de Cambuquira
- Minas Terra
- Back to Brazil
- Este Sentimento
- Unidos da Lavra
- Samba da Preguiça
- Longe de Mim (Anne Simoni – Roberta Imanishi)
- Retrato da Cidade
- Choose to Believe