Thalma and Laércio de Freitas: The Brazilian Way of Life

(AJ Peterson / The Triton)

The duo from Brazil did it again; the sold-out house was packed and those who came in late unfortunately had to resort to watching the show from the sidelines.

I found my seat near the front of the stage, where I could see everything laid out for the performance. Laércio and Thalma took the stage after proper introductions from the Art Power staff and then the night really began.

Thalma de Freitas is a well-known singer from Brazil who sings mostly Brazilian R&B and classic ballads. Most of her music is done in collaboration with other musicians, almost all of them Brazilian. Artists Money Mark and Joao Parahyba are featured on the album, “Red Hot & Rio 2”, which shows her great variety in musical stylings and performance because it contrasts her usual, laid-back jazz singing with rhythmic pulsating beats.

According to ArtPower Executive Director Jordan Peimer, Laércio de Freitas is a “living legend.” Laércio is well-known in the Brazilian music industry due to his influence on the Brazilian jazz scene and musical creativity.

Often locking eyes and expressing a unique father-daughter love through subtle facial expressions, their special relationship was quite evident. The father and daughter duo often argue about what tempo or what key a song should be in, almost as if they were the only two in the room.

I was immediately enchanted with the beauty of one of the opening songs, a collaborative piece entitled “Condeiro de Nana”, a song that she often sang for her mother when she was 16 years old. Thalma sang softly while her father Laércio graced the keys of the piano with his fingers, as though he was lovingly caressing each individual key. Though not heavy in lyrics, the emotion “Condeiro de Nana” conveys was crystal clear: the song was a gift to Thalma’s mother.

After the first two songs, Thalma introduced two guest musicians whom she and her father had met during their time in the U.S. The musicians had moved from Brazil to the United States, one only six months ago and the other almost 18 years ago. These guest musicians played the mandolin, guitar, and viola, adding a more upbeat vibe to the following songs. Thalma soon left the stage and Laércio and the two guest musicians played selections composed by Laércio.

Having never been exposed to his work before, this performance allowed me to see the genius of Laércio de Freitas’s music. Each player had their own distinct sound; the mandolin and violin marked the melody while the guitar provided the backing bass track. Though the mandolin player and the guitar player were center stage, Laércio’s piano playing stood out because it overpowered the sound of the two string players, breathing life into the pieces they played.. Laércio’s hands meandered through the keys, providing the essential rhythm of his jazz pieces.

The tempo picked up with “Beija Me,” which translates to kiss me in English. Thalma returned to the stage and played with Laércio and the two guest musicians. The song’s playful tone and Thalma’s impromptu dancing added to the lighthearted atmosphere. During the song, a young member of the de Freitas family, probably around 3 years old, came on stage, and danced alongside Thalma. The entire scene was expressive of the joy and carefree attitude their music brings to the world.

Amongst the music, dancing, and cheering, Thalma somehow found time for a monologue about the “Brazilian Way of Life,” the ideology behind her dance.

“The way of Brazil is to live and let live; we take things as they come and sometimes we make mistakes. But there is always one thing to remember,” she said. “The rest of the universe doesn’t make mistakes. Just us.”

Thalma’s testimony to the human condition was paired with the carefree sounds of the mandolin, guitar, and piano; truly a testament to la vida tranquila.

Saunil Dobariya is a staff writer for The Triton.