It is December. In Brazil this is the time widely known as Christmas time or período natalino (politically correct or not!). However, contrary to the snow covered landscapes one tends to associate with Christmas, it is summer time in the southern hemisphere. Scorching temperatures go along with lively music — sambas — as in this incredible collection of Christmas songs, Um Natal de Samba. After all, Christmas is also the time before Carnaval.
When you join the traditional names of Dona Ivone Lara and João Nogueira with the power of more recent talents such as Zeca Pagodinho and Toque de Prima, the result is breathtaking. Um Natal de Samba is exactly that. Track after track your ears will marvel at the music you hear. If you are not familiar with Portuguese, this album might just sound like a samba album. However, the lyrics touch on the magic of Christmas as seen by these great sambistas.
Zeca Pagodinho opens this collection with a song of hope written by two samba greats, Wilson Moreira and Nei Lopes. Especially in the times we live in, the song’s message of peace for all echoes in the beat of this lovely samba. João Nogueira carries the torch of universal peace in the poetry of Paulo César Pinheiro highlighted by Sérgio Santos’ melody in “Sagrada Luz.” Slowing the beat just a little, the smooth voice of Emilio Santiago appears to soothe the pain of a broken love affair in “Sapato na Janela.” Facing that sad reality, Santa Claus reminds us of the gifts to give as Christmas draws near. Cláudio Jorge’s verses reach a climax with these words:
Cresce em mim igual a uma bola de neve
Um confuso sentimento
De esperança, covardia e prazer
It grows like a snowball inside of me
This confusing feeling
Of hope, cowardice and pleasure
In spite of it all, he wishes a world of love, friendships and happiness. A similar message of optimism is found in “Amor Divinal.” No matter how bad things might seem to be, that song asks you to smile, look up and feel the Christmas spirit in all of us. When Almir Guineto sings “Meu Natal,” the message of hope is once again stressed. Even if there is not much food at the table, who would dare to tell the children that there is no Santa Claus? Guineto is thankful that there is peace in his days. A more upbeat message is the focus of “Natal Imperiano.” In this song we celebrate Christmas Eve with a very Brazilian traditional supper. The dinner table is set up in the backyard, guests arrive and party all night long.
Even though there is a certain sadness in several of the lyrics, some songs are very upbeat. Roque Ferreira’s lively “Presente de Natal,” for example, tells the story of lovers sharing affection and kisses. When they kiss, their whole bodies shake, the song says. One lover says to the other “I’m your Christmas gift.” And when Dona Ivone Lara starts her own “É Natal,” there is no doubt of the peaceful message of love to children and all. The greatest gift of all, she sings, is to love and make people love one another.
Um Natal de Samba will move you with its music. It will also make you think of less fortunate people and the problems we all face in our daily lives. However, as Arlindo Cruz and Sombrinha sing in the closing track, even if there is no “Silent Night,” with friends and samba, you will have a night of light.
Um Natal de Samba
Velas 325911001232 (1999)
- Canção da Esperança (Wilson Moreira – Nei Lopes) – Zeca Pagodinho
- Sagrada Luz (Sérgio Santos – Paulo César Pinheiro) – João Nogueira
- Sapato na Janela (Cláudio Jorge) – Emilio Santiago
- Festa na Cidade (Luizinho SP) – Luizinho SP
- Amor Divinal (Mauro Diniz – Adilson Victor) – Mauro Diniz
- Meu Natal (Almir Guineto – Gilson de Sousa – Ali Barros) – Almir Guineto
- Natal Imperiano (Zé Luiz) – Toque de Prima
- Noel e Natalina (Nei Lopes) – Nei Lopes
- Festa de Luz (Dunga – Toninho Nascimento) – Dunga
- Presente de Natal (Roque Ferreira) – Fundo de Quintal
- Quando o Natal Caiu numa Sexta (Luiz Carlos da Vila) – Luiz Carlos da Vila
- Momentos de Paz (Barbeirinho – M. Diniz – Luiz Grande) – Luiz Grande
- É Natal (Dona Ivone Lara – Délcio Carvalho) – Dona Ivone Lara & Délcio Carvalho
- Natal Diferente (Arlindo Cruz – Sombrinha) – Arlindo Cruz & Sombrinha