Helena Meirelles

Helena Meirelles

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This first release from Helena Meirelles is the album that earned her an award from Guitar Player magazine in 1993. This release brings sounds that are unknown by a broader American audience. Meirelles is an old illiterate woman who has been living an adventurous life. Of upcountry origin, she always lived in small villages in the heart of Brazil, most of the time near the frontiers of the Spanish-speaking countries of Paraguay and Bolivia. The Paraguayan influences are obvious (the chamamé style and the guarani language in "Cerro Corá," a song about the Paraguayan War), as this country's culture is formative of the identity of the Brazilian state where Meirelles was born, Mato Grosso do Sul. She accounts for her life in five recorded testimonies in this album, in her broken Pantaneiro Portuguese, which is almost a dialect. It is a completely different Brazil than that of the bossa nova, and through Meirelles' rustic, unsophisticated, direct playing and singing (impaired by a pulmonary crisis during the recording sessions), one can imagine that country's diversity and Meirelles' life as a brothel musician, an independent woman who gave birth to her 11 children alone in the open, and as a humble woman of the distant wilderness of Brazil.

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