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Brazilian Colors
Brazil has a multiracial society, but we still have to fight prejudice for social equality, justice
Antonio Carlos Rix (carlosrix)     Print Article 
  Published 2008-02-08 17:34 (KST)   
Carmen Queiroz and her multiracial Samba group
©2008 Antonio Carlos Rix
Three or four blocks from where I live downtown in Campinas (*), there is a bar called Tonico's. Tonico is a nickname for Antonio, like Tonny for Antony. The name of the bar is a tribute to Campinas famous maestro Antonio Carlos Gomes (Campinas, 11 de julho de 1836 - Belem do Para, 16 de setembro de 1896).

It is a regular bar decorated with motives that recall the memory of that great man, but instead of opera it boasts, with good reason, to be a Samba temple.

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Every night of the week a different artist presents his work there. From the well-known to new comers, samba players have a stand to perform at Tonico's. Last Saturday night I went there to see the Samba singer Carmen Queiroz.

Carmen has been on the road for some 20 years now, and besides interpreting great names of Brazilian Samba, she has three CDs of her: Flor da Paz, Leite Preto, and the last one, Do Meu Jeito. She told me her music is greatly influenced by Carmen Miranda, Clara Nunes, Elizete Cardoso and other great women's names of traditional Samaba.

Like Tonico's does, she also sings songs of well-known composers and young ones as well, so they can show throw her their potential. "Musicians have to help each other, for the mainstream media is not very likely to do so," she told me.

From the early morning that day I was already worried about the colors of my country and what all the mix of people have got us to. I am the grandson of Italian, Spanish, German and Portuguese people. They all met here got married and started the family. This kind of mix is very common in Brazil.

Inside Tonico's
©2008 Antonio Carlos Rix
The atmosphere inside Tonico's Bar, Carmen is performing on stage.
©2008 Antonio Carlos Rix
We took it a step further and now the family meetings are as colorful as a Monet painting.

I asked Carmen how hard it was to be a black woman in Brazil. "It used to be more difficult in the past, we are still a long way from the ideal" she said. "Today we talk about the problem of discrimination and more people are worried about it, this is making things better" she added.

The fact is that even with all the mixing, so easy to witness in Brazil, there is still prejudice to be fought. In the past, most people denied the situation -- and made matters even worse -- now more and more people recognize the problem and so we can treat it. Carmen herself was married to a white man who passed away two or three months ago.

"The stage and my albums are stand points from where I can do my part in the fight for equality," she said. "There is still a lot to be conquered in social terms."

As always music is a great instrument to change society and influence people, the group accompanying her is in itself a trade mark of new and better times, just check the picture and you will understand what I mean.

It's interesting that being at Tonico's is being near the maestro. He himself was a son of a black and white couple. Although today he is much admired and has many squares, streets and public places named after him in Campinas and other cities in Brazil, he did suffer a lot of discrimination from his contemporaries.

You can see his picture here.

I was glad to be there and see many blacks and whites singing together, not because this is unusual, but because there in front of me was all the colors of the spectrum. They sang and were fans of the sound of samba produced by this multiracial band and a great singer. (Check their musicality bellow **)

So from the time of maestro Gomes up to now it is good to know things have improved so much. Like in many other countries through the work of artists like Carmen Queiroz, sports men and women and education society is changing and improving.

There is still much to be done but we will get there if we want to. Yes, we will have equality and justice. Praise God for all the colors!


- Leite Preto - from Carmen's latest CD "Carmen Queiroz - Do Meu Jeito" 
- Canto de Tres Racas is the interpretation of a classic of Brazilian music 
- Canto de Tres Racas is the interpretation of a classic of Brazilian music 
- Brazilian Colors, written by Carlos Rix and read by Jennifer Lebedev 
- Carmen Queiroz 

(*) Campinas is in the country side of the state of Sao Paulo.

(**) Here you will find two MP3s posted with Carmen's permission Leite Preto from her newest CD and Canto the Tres Racas, the same music that is in the video. Also for download the lyrics for "Canto de Tres Racas" Futhermore, you may also want to visit Carmen's Web site.
©2008 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Antonio Carlos Rix

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