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Adriana Calcanhotto

Adriana Calcanhotto is a Brazilian MPB singer, composer, and guitarist from Brazil. Her multi-octave vocal range and signature phrasing are articulated through complex, idiosyncratic, sophisticated compositions that cut across samba, bossa nova, rock, pop, and ballads at will. Enguiço, her 1990 debut album, offered canny covers of tunes by MPB and samba legends. By contrast, 1992's charting Senhas follow-up was completely self-written and produced. 1994's smash A Fábrica Do Poema balanced originals with carefully chosen covers. 1998's Maritimo kicked off an experimental pop trilogy about the sea composed of covers. 2008's Maré, the star-studded second volume, offered covers by a who's-who of Brazilian songwriters. 2011's O Micróbio Do Samba comprised 21st century sambas, while 2018's Margem concluded the final part of her MPB oceanic trilogy and was its most popular volume of all. Só appeared in August 2020 and Errante in 2023. Calcanhotto was born in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul. Her father, of Italian descent, was a jazz drummer who accompanied Elis Regina in her early career, while her mother was a dancer. Given her origins, it's understandable that Calcanhotto was obsessed with music from the time she was a toddler. Her grandmother gifted her a guitar when she was six, and the instrument and young woman became inseparable. For several years she spent hours practicing and learning to play the MPB hits of the day. In high school she discovered a passion for modernist and experimental literature. Combining it with her love of music, she began writing her first songs. Immediately after high school, Calcanhotto dedicated herself to the theater where she performed in some plays -- but they were always linked to music in some way. By playing with her “stool, voice, and guitar” style, she interpreted the best MPB songs and ended up convincing and impressing the public. Calcanhotto started out playing and singing at small bars in Porto Alegre, then moved to Rio, where she performed wherever she could. Her ten-song set wasn't enough to hold down a gig, but she played anyway, repeating the songs several times in an evening. The singer impressed clubgoers. Soon she was being invited to play music and street festivals in Rio. Almost at once, she drew the attention of Sony's A&R department and signed a record deal shortly thereafter. In 1990, she recorded and released Enguiço, which revealed a young singer with unusual taste for MPB, as the album offered covers of Lupicínio Rodrigues' "Nunca." Issued at the end of the Brazilian rock era, it was a commercial risk. Fortunately for Calcanhotto, other singers such as Marisa Monte were making the same choice, dislocating rock for a re-approximation of Brazilian music. The album also brought "Sonífera Ilha" -- a hit for Os Titãs -- and "Caminhoneiro" by Roberto Carlos, that reaffirmed her capacity for creating sensitive performances. The track list also included "Naquela Estação" co-written by Caetano Veloso, Ronald Bastos, and João Donato. It registered as a regional hit. National exposure came with her sophomore album, the self-composed Senhas. The title track was included on the soap opera soundtrack for Renascer and heard by millions in Brazil. A third album, A Fábrica do Poema, balanced her original compositions with covers by composers such as Chico Buarque. The interpretation of his "Morro Dois Irmãos" revealed a true MPB artist, not merely a performer wed to the pop idiom. The album also included the spoken concrete poetry of Augusto de Campos (who appeared on "O Verme E A Estrela"). 1996 marked the beginning of national tours and performances in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Calcanhotto recorded the song "Tema de Alice" (Péricles Cavalcânti), which was included on the soundtrack to the film Mil e Uma, and "Dona de Castelo," a nostalgic lullaby by Jards Macalé/Waly Salomão, and the theme song of the 1996 film Doces Poderes. 1998's Maritimo kicked off an experimental "maritime trilogy" about the sea and its interaction with all life on earth. It would take more than two decades to complete. Though composed primarily of covers, Calcanhotto radically rearranged and re-orchestrated her song choices, mixing drum machines, ska, funk, electronics, and noise, maracatu drum samples, and dance grooves in her MPB approach. The track list included Roberto Carlos' Jovem Garda hit "Porisso eu Corro Demais," Dorival Caymmi's "Quem vem pra Beira do Mar," and Bebel Gilberto's "Mais Feliz." Legendary composer/multi-instrumentalist Hermeto Pascoal played piano on "Canção Por Acaso." Recorded live, her fifth album, Público (2002), appeared in an audio/visual package that featured her playing solo. While her previous studio outings registered gold certifications from the industry, Público was certified double platinum. Following tours of Japan and Europe, Calcanhotto released the studio album Cantada in 2002. It too earned platinum certification for its use of a "cooler" laid-back approach to MPB performed with a studio band that included Moreno Veloso and Kassin. In 2004 she issued Adriana Partimpim. Titled for her childhood nickname, it was her first offering of songs for children and was awarded platinum status, as was its live follow-up, Partimpim: O Show, in 2005. Following two extensive tours of South America and Europe, Calcanhotto returned to the studio and in 2008 released the Arto Lindsay-produced Maré, the second volume in her sea trilogy. While it lyrically turned on similar themes as its predecessor, musically it more closely resembled Cantada. Composed entirely of covers, its title track was composed by Moreno Veloso, who also played guitar on the album. Other highlights included "Mulher Sem Razão" by Cazuza, Bebel Gilberto, and Dé Palmeira; Arnaldo Antunes' "Para Lá"; Dorival Caymmi's "Sargaço Mar," and Kassin's "Um Dia Desses." Following a long world tour, Calcanhotto returned with the provocatively titled, intimately recorded O Micróbio Do Samba. Playing guitar and piano, and fronting a rhythm section of bassist Alberto Continentino and Lancelotti on drums and percussion, the set included dark, minor-key, somewhat avant sambas with provocative, poetic lyrics. Its unusual presentation didn't register as well with consumers but did sell respectably and became something of a hit in Japan. Calcanhotto was undaunted and took the album on tour, issuing the live Multishow ao Vivo: Micróbio Vivo the following year. She issued Partimpim Tlês the same year; it was the second studio offering by her children's music alter ego. In 2014 she released the concert audio/video package Olhos de Onda, offering a collection of her career hits to date, employing the rootsier musical approach she began articulating on Cantada. The following year saw the arrival of a truly special project in her discography: Loucura: Adriana Calcanhotto Canta Lupicínio Rodrigues. The singer and composer, who'd passed in 1974, was from Calcanhotto's hometown and was an enormous influence on her due to his uncommonly intimate, poetic songs of heartbreak and longing. In 2018 Calcanhotto concluded her maritime trilogy with the release of Margem. Unlike its predecessors, all but two of its tracks were composed by Calcanhotto. Further, its production style focused on more populated mixes utilizing horns, electronics, and organic and synthetic percussion. Calcanhotto recorded and self-released Só as an "emergency" album. It was penned and recorded solo during quarantine. (DJ Dennis assisted via the internet on the funky "Bunda Le Le.) Released in August, it offered nine poignant songs of the artist's own experiences with isolation. Calcanhotto returned to the road in 2022, playing a slew of new songs along with her hits. She released Errante in March 2023. A truly contemporary record about her nomadic life -- she resides in Brazil and Portugal and tours the globe -- it was co-produced by the artist with Lancelotti, Continentino, and guitarist Davi Moraes from her studio band; the session also included a horn section featuring Diogo Gomes (trumpet), Jorge Continentino (saxophone), and Marlon Sette (trombone). Musically, despite the modern production and instrumentation, it offered a striking contrast of both historic and more contemporary Brazilian rhythms and styles, from the drum machine-saturated carioca funk in "Prova Dos Nove" to the reconciliation between Bahian samba de roda with the carioca swing of the 1920s, and the intimate samba-canção in "Quem te Disse?"
© Thom Jurek & Alvaro Neder /TiVo


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