Jul 09 2010

Suely Mesquita: Sexo Puro – A Life In Brazilian Song

The Birth of a Song

 

Sexo Puro: A Life in Brazilian Song

Public School teacher Bob Gaulke is what one could easily call a world citizen. Now based in the Bronx, NY, Bob has travelled the world and spent time in Brazil and Japan. Outside his home base he was able to provide a living by teaching English. Meanwhile he absorbed local colours to enrich his world view. As a musician and music fan, Bob fell in love with Brazilian music. The music intrigued him so much that he went to Salvador da Bahia to learn all about it. There he read about a singer from Rio’s first solo album, Sexo Puro by Suely Mesquita in 2002. After finally hearing the music, he was knocked out by its purity. Thanks to the internet, he soon got in contact with Suely and thus discovered the interesting life of a passionate musician who seemed to be in the centre of a relatively unknown circle of talented composers and performers. The surprise was big enough for Bob to dedicate a book to it. Bob Gaulke spent time at the Porto-Mesquita household, armed with a pen, a laptop and a recorder, trying to discover secrets behind the extraordinary talent of Suely Mesquita (Rio de Janeiro; singer, lyricist, composer and vocal teacher).

As a performing artist, Suely has two albums under her own name, along with various participations on other albums. Both solo albums (the earlier mentioned Sexo Puro in 2002 and Microswing in 2008) were received unanimously with positive praises by every critic that could get her or his hands on it; in and (far) outside Brazil. The CDs stand out in the quality of the compositions, the well chosen (mainly acoustic) instrumentation and, of course, the impeccable warm voiced vocals. The lyrics are a special feature as well; often about the cynical realities in life or about common human issues. However, for non-Portuguese speaking listeners the music has the ability to speak for itself. The fresh and contemporary sounding compositions offer links with Brazil’s rich music culture, using traditional rhythms and music styles. And somehow that always mixes with the sentiment of the lyrics. Suely’s music dominates in a non-dominating way; she’s there in the centre without standing in the spotlights. It’s funny that wherever there’s a song of Suely Mesquita (whether or not written in partnership) on someone else’s album, you’ll discover that the track is always among the highlights of that CD.

Through the eager pen of Bob Gaulke, Suely Mesquita talks in an informative and always pleasant way about the inspiration for her artistic output. It’s a more than interesting journey to follow, resulting in a better understanding in the almost psychoanalytic process of song writing. The second half of the book is where it all comes down to: music. Nineteen songs are discussed in detail; the inspiration and the lyrics (nicely translated as well). As a wonderful bonus, all these songs can be found on an accompanying CD. There’s a track from each solo album, a few never before released tracks and renditions by other artists. The rich illustrated book shows it all and is therefore interesting reading material for budding musicians as well as for anyone interested in where an all-round musician gets her inspiration from. A great introduction to and a great confirmation of the talent of Suely Mesquita!

 

BOOK INFORMATION

Suely Mesquita 
Sexo Puro: A Life in Brazilian Song
(Suely Mesquita interviewed by Bob Gaulke)
Lesma e Lula Press (2010)
147 pages, illustrated, free CD with 19 tracks