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Badi Assad

Idioma disponível: inglês
Badi Assad (pronounced Bah-Jee Ah-Sahj) is a Brazilian fingerstyle guitarist, vocalist, composer, and percussionist. Her music effortlessly crosses genres from Brazilian folk and pop styles to classical, jazz, adult contemporary, and various world music traditions. The nylon-string guitarist is known for musical adventurousness; she often juxtaposed various classical and jazz guitar vocabularies with prepared guitar techniques to create unusual timbres. With a big, resonant alto, she sings and improvises vocally in English and Portuguese. Though she made her recorded debut in Brazil in 1989, she gained global notoriety for her 1994 Chesky debut, Solo. In 1995, after releasing the innovative Rhythms, Assad was voted Best Acoustic Fingerstyle Guitarist by the editors of Guitar Player. After 1997's Echoes of Brazil, she signed to Universal Music for the globally acclaimed Chameleon in mid-1998. Owing to a motor disability diagnosed as focal dystonia, she was left unable to play between late 1998 and 2001. In 2003, she released Three Guitars, in collaboration with Larry Coryell and John Abercrombie, followed by a sold-out world tour. After signing with Deutsche Grammophon, Assad issued 2004's charting Verde and 2006's Wonderland, after which she went on a recording hiatus of six years. Her 2012 comeback Amor e Outras Manias Crônicas (Love and Other Manias), and its follow-up, the charting Between Love and Luck, were issued on her own Quatro Ventos label. After 2015's English-language album Hatched, she toured the globe, wrote a book, and returned in 2020 with Around the World on Ropeadope. Assad was born Mariângela Assad Simão in the state of São Paulo but spent her childhood in Rio de Janeiro. Her family is quite musical. Her father, Jorge Assad, was a watchmaker and master bandolim player; her mother sang; her older brothers, twins Sergio and Odair Assad, make up the world-renowned guitar duo the Assad Brothers; and her nieces are pianist composer and arranger Clarice Assad and singer Carolina Assad. Badi began studying piano at age eight, but at 14, she followed her older brothers and switched to the guitar. Her brothers spent years accompanying their father; as they went on to play professionally, that duty fell to Badi, which she heartily embraced. Sharpening her skills at the University Conservatory in Rio de Janeiro, Assad placed first in a Young Instrumentalist Contest in 1984. Assad's professional debut came as a member of the Guitar Orchestra of Rio de Janeiro, conducted by Turbio Santos, in 1986. The same year, she sang and acted in a musical, Mulheres de Hollanda, written by Tatiana Cobbett and based on works by Chico Buarque. In 1987, Assad toured in Duo Romantique alongside guitarist Françoise-Emmanuelle Denis, performing across Israel, Europe, and Brazil. In 1988, she wrote and starred in a solo performance piece, "Antagonism," in which she played guitar, sang, acted, and danced. Dança dos Tons, Assad's debut album, was released in Brazil in 1989 with a limited run of 2,000 copies (it was re-released with bonus tracks as Dança das Ondas in 2003). In addition to her already accomplished guitar playing, it featured her first vocal experiments producing percussion sounds with her mouth, a characteristic that would become standard practice on later releases. She moved to New York and signed a deal with the U.S.-based audiophile label Chesky Records and cut her first international release, 1994's Solo, produced by her brother Sergio. Though it won approving critical notice, it was actually her second album for the label -- 1995's Rhythms featuring percussionist Cyro Baptista -- that established her international reputation. The editorial staff of Guitar Player voted Assad Best Acoustic Fingerstyle Guitarist, and its readers picked the album as one of the year's best. She followed with the instrumental Echoes of Brazil in 1997, which garnered favorable critical notice across the globe. 1998's Chameleon was co-written and produced by her musical and life partner, former Megadeth guitarist Jeff Young, for the Polygram-distributed I.E. Music label. The album won critical notice and topped the world music charts in Germany and Holland, as well as JAZZIZ magazine's readers poll, where it was selected as "Best Brazilian Album of the Year." That victory was short-lived, however. Assad experienced an increased difficulty playing and was later diagnosed as focal dystonia; her recovery period left her unable to play for nearly two years. It was also during this time that she separated from her husband. Assad decided she needed to be with her family and moved back to Brazil. Ultimately, Assad made a full recovery from her disability and returned to work. Focusing on collaborations with other guitarists, she appeared on two albums including Nowhere with Young in 2002 and the re-release of Dança das Ondas with four bonus tracks. She issued the collaborative Three Guitars with jazz artists Larry Coryell and John Abercrombie for Chesky that same year, and the trio undertook a completely sold-out world tour. By virtue of her polyrhythmic approach to the nylon string guitar, Assad stole the show each night. Upon her return, she signed to Deutsche Grammophon's Edge Music imprint and released the acclaimed Verde in 2005, on which she was backed by a septet that included percussionist Naná Vasconcelos and niece Carolina Assad on vocals. She followed it in 2007 with the ambitious Wonderland, inspired by Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. The set was composed of reinterpretations of progressive pop hits by Eurythmics, Vangelis, and Tori Amos, among others; her niece Carolina was one of the set's arrangers. Wonderland made the BBC's year-end best-of list and became her first international best-seller. After touring in support of the album, Assad gave birth to a child, returned to Brazil, and took a six-year hiatus to devote herself to motherhood. She returned to recording, but on her own terms. She created the Quatro Ventos label and released her comeback, Amor e Outras Manias Crônicas, in 2012. That July, accompanied only by her voice, guitar, and a kalimba, Assad performed the entire repertoire from 2004's Verde for the 23 dancers from the Bahian Dance Company from the Municipal Theater (BTCA) at the Venice Biennale in Italy. In 2013, she issued the internationally charting Between Love and Luck, on which she wrote or co-wrote all but one of its 13 selections. In January 2014, she was commissioned by the Guitar Festival Marathon in New York to compose the soundtrack for the screening of the silent 1934 Chinese film The Goddess and was invited to also serve in the role of festival curator, where she only performed the composition live at New York's Merkin Hall. That year, Assad was selected by Rolling Stone as one of the Top 100 Guitarists in the world and also won the U.S. Songwriting Competition in the World Music category. In 2015, she privately released the children's music album Cantos de Casa, and saw the German issue of Amor e Outras Manias Crônicas on the O-Tone Music label under the translated title Love and Other Manias. Further, Assad was invited to work with the Chicago-based global peace-building organization Genesis at the Crossroads as the guitarist and vocalist in their Saffron Caravan, a multicultural musical ensemble alongside Moroccan vocalist Aaron Bensoussan, Arab-Israeli oud master Haytham Safia, and Venezuelan percussionist Javier Saume Mazzei. Additionally, she served as a panelist on Genesis' signature round tables on the arts and conflict transformation and taught the music and peace-building program for the Genesis Academy Summer Institute, a leadership training and education in nonviolent conflict resolution for youth from international areas of conflict. In 2016, Assad issued Hatched, comprised of radically rearranged covers of hit pop songs such as Lorde's "Royals," "The Hanging Tree" (the Hunger Games theme co-written by author Suzanne Collins with composer James Newton Howard and the Lumineers' Jeremiah Fraites and Wesley Schultz), "Little Lion Man" by Mumford and Sons, and Skrillex's "Stranger," as well as a trio of originals. Despite a dearth of guitar playing on the album, the set drew rave reviews across the globe for her sensitive and innovative covers. After a long period of touring the globe, Assad authored the book Volta ao mundo em 80 artistas ("Around the World with 80 Artists"), an autobiographical inventory of musicians artists from all continents -- ranging from Chico Buarque to Björk and beyond -- compiled from a series of guest columns she wrote for Top Magazine during the early 2000s, supplemented by current essays written specifically for the book. In December 2020, Assad issued Around the World on Ropeadope. Recorded at Historic Studio in Berkeley, California, by Ricky Fataar, the ten-song set provided an aural accompaniment to her book. Performing completely solo, she offered unique arrangements -- in several languages -- of songs by Lenine and Braulio Tavares, Björk, Alt-J, and several originals.
© Thom Jurek & Craig Harris /TiVo
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