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Juçara Marçal

Juçara Marçal is a Brazilian singer, songwriter, and educator whose music bridges traditional Afro-Brazilian folk sounds, electronic music, rock, and hip-hop. Though a solo artist, she is equally well known for her work in vocal groups such as Grupo Vésper during the 1990s and A Barca in the early 2000s where her bold, reedy contralto was easily arranged as a dominant voice. She also co-leads vanguard rock outfit Metá Metá with guitarist Kiko Dinucci and saxophonist/flutist Thiago França. Their iconoclastic sound weds punk, jazz, samba, Afrobeat, and candomblé. Marçal made her solo debut with the guitarist on 2008's Padê before forming the band. She was 35 years old. She released the self-produced Encarnado in 2014 with assistance from her bandmates as well as guitarist Rodrigo Campos and fiddler Thomas Rohrer. In 2015, she issued Anganga in collaboration with Brazilian experimental electronicist Cadu Tenório. Two years later, after three more recordings and tours with Metá Metá, Marçal re-teamed with Campos and producer/vocalist Gui Amabis for the mini-album Sambas Do Absurdo. She also performed with her MM bandmates in the show Brigitte Fontaine, in which she sang the artist's repertoire in French. In 2021 she released Delta Estácio Blues. Marçal was born in the Duque de Caxias district of Rio de Janeiro. At ten her family moved to São Paulo. She studied journalism, literature, and education at the University of São Paulo. After singing in several amateur choirs such as Coralusp Meio Dia, Coral da Faap, and Som a Pino, she joined Companhia Coral, directed by Samuel Kerr and Willian Pereira. In 1991, she joined the female vocal quintet Grupo Vésper, who were dedicated to the interpretation of classic Brazilian music performed a cappella. She toured and recorded with them through 2004's Ser Tão Paulista. Throughout her tenure, she taught Portuguese language and grammar, as well as choir and voice studies, to students from elementary school to university levels; she retired from teaching in 2015. In 1998, she also joined the experimental, research-oriented vocal group A Barca producing the albums Turista Aprendiz in 2000 and Baião de Princesas in 2002. Between 2004 and 2005, the group performed across Brazil. They issued Trilha, Toada and Trupe (2006), and Collection Turista Aprendiz (2007), when Marçal left the group. Given her travels in Sao Paulo's experimental and rock music communities, she met composer and guitarist Kiko Dinucci and recorded the 2008 duo album Padê when she was 35. The pair enlisted saxophonist/flutist/composer Thiago França and formed Metá Metá in 2010 for the purpose of touring Europe. Upon return, they cut their 2011 self-titled debut album, and enlisted bassist Marcelo Cabral before following it with the globally acclaimed MetaL MetaL in 2012. In 2014, Marçal stepped out on her own and released Encarnado. Self-produced, she recruited her bandmates, guitarist Rodrigo Campos and fiddler Thomas Rohrer to assist in the 12-track program of covers and originals including a spirited read of Tom Zé's "Não Tenha Ódio No Verão." She released it as a free download. It was selected as one of the year's ten best albums by national newspaper O Globo and won the Brazilian music industry's Multishow Award in the Shared Music category. She followed it a year later with the conceptual Anganga in collaboration with guitarist/electronicist Cadu Tenório. Its songs were based on vissungos (songs) collected in the 1920s by philologist and researcher Aires da Mata Machado Filho in São João da Chapada from the Afro-diasporic mining community located in Minas Gerais. The album title refers to the supreme entity of the Bantu people ("Anganga Nzambi"). In 2016, Metá Metá issued MM3 for Jazz Village with fourth member, drummer Sérgio Machado. They explored trance music from Morocco, Ethiopia, Niger, and Mali, wedding folk traditions to improvisation. They followed in 2017 with Gira, an original score and soundtrack to accompany globally renowned Brazilian dance company Grupo Corpo. Metá Metá's music on the set was deeply influenced by Umbanda. One of the most widely practiced Afro-Brazilian religions, it combines various aspects of Catholicism, spiritualism, and African religious traditions. The album featured a guest duet between Marçal and Elza Soares on "Pé." Two years later, after long tours with Metá Metá, she released the mini album Sambas Do Absurdo in collaboration with Campos and vocalist producer Gui Amabis. Sambas Do Absurdo's songs were based on works by French writer and philosopher, Albert Camus. Marçal spent the next several years touring on her own and with Metá Metá. She performed in the show Brigitte Fontaine with her bandmates and sang the artist's repertoire in French. She also guested on a number of high-profile recordings including Jards Macalé's Besta Fera, Moor Mother's Analog Fluids of Sonic Black Hole, Dinucci's Rastilho, and Rodrigo Brandão's Sun Ra tribute outing Outros Espaço. In November of 2021, Marçal released Delta Estácio Blues on Mais Um Discos. Four years in the making, it was inspired by Detroit rapper Danny Brown's left-field hip-hop classic The Atrocity Exhibition. Brown wrote different beats and specifically grafted his lyrics onto them to match their percussive power. Marçal, Dinucci, and their musical collaborators would develop a variety of rhythms by juxtaposing percussion instruments with guitars, keyboards, and basses, and then sampling and layering melodies on top. They developed some 30 original beats and sent several off to favorite songwriters. Lyrics and/or concepts would be returned and melodies reshaped or re-formed via conventional instrumentation as well as abstracted electronic and industrial rhythms while still incorporating elements of samba, maracatu, and even bossa nova. They drafted and re-drafted until Marçal was happy with the final result. Only then would she record her vocals. In some cases this meant completely discarding an original beat to create something fresh on the spot. Featured lyricists and composers included Tulipa, Maria Beraldo, Siba, Negro Leo, Rodrigo Ogi, and Campos.
© Thom Jurek /TiVo


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