Sol Negro

Less than five years ago Virginia Rodrigues was an impoverished
cook who occasionally sang for her family and friends in Salvador,
Brazil. But one day she was overheard singing the Latin song
Veronica in church by a local theater producer. Oh, all you who
pass along the road, she sang in her bone-dry mezzo-soprano voice,
Look, look, and then see if there is pain like my pain. Brazilian
star Caetano Veloso, who produced Sol Negro, claims to have shed
tears upon first hearing Rodrigues sing the song in a subsequent
play.

A thoughtfully curated album, Sol Negro features Veronica in
addition to a variety of sambas and material by such well-known
Brazilian songwriters as Veloso, Djavan and Dorival Caymmi. The
album paints a portrait of Rodrigues and her past, with music from
all stages of her 35-year life. She sings Adeus Batucada, a samba
made famous by Carmen Miranda that typifies nearly all the
happiness and sadness of the Brazilian people, as well as Ary
Barroso’s quaint yet powerful primitive samba, Terra Seca (Dry
Land). Modestly yet tastefully produced, Sol Negro bubbles with the
subtle rhythms of Bahian percussion and the talking berimbau.
Brazilian notables such as Gilberto Gil and Milton Nascimento
occasionally lend a hand, but it’s Virginia Rodrigues’ transcendent
voice that rightfully dominates.

FromEscape(Dec. 1999).
Subscriptions: $18/yr. (4 issues) from Box 462255, Escondido, CA
92046.

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