This Sunday, a special Summerstage show kicked off the first annual Brazil Summerfest, a celebration of Brazilian music in New York. Marcelo D2, Pitty, and DJ Nuts started off a week of performances by Brazilian artists, including Forró in the Dark, Brothers of Brazil, Davi Vieira, and Percussivo Mundo Novo, amongst others. The festival also happened to come right after Tom Zé's first New York performance in 12 years. The Central Park show had a huge turnout on one of the hottest weekends of the year.
Despite the scorching temperatures and a brief rainstorm, there was an impressive turnout on Sunday. Though the crowd appeared to be largely Brazilian, there were plenty of gringos there interested in Brazil. Quite appropriately, Marcelo D2 sang "A Maldição do Samba," or the Samba Curse, which includes the refrain:
A maldição do samba
O gringo subiu no morro e bebeu cachaça, fumou maconha e obteve
a graça. Depois do samba sua vida nunca mais foi a mesma
The samba curse
The gringo went up to the favela and drank cachaça, smoked weed and had a good time
After the samba, his life was never the same.
It was a great way to start a new summer tradition in New York, showing off the fusion of different Brazilian styles. Pitty, an acclaimed rock star, could have easily been confused for a tourist going to brunch; she was dressed in a cute pink dress with a pink headband and ballet flats, a very different look from her usual black and denim rocker style.
Marcelo D2, who was profiled in The New York Times on Thursday, showed off his fusion of musical styles: hip hop, rap, samba, reggae, and African-influenced percussion, and as he sang in "Gueto," "um pouco de europeu, um pouco de africano" (a little European, a little African). He even had the security guards dancing.
Later in the afternoon, he surprised the crowd by singing with Bebel Gilberto, a sneak peak for their show on August 3rd at City Winery. At the end, despite confessing he was about to faint from the heat, he invited around 20 women on stage to samba with him in his closing song.
There's a tremendous opportunity for Brazilian cultural events in the US, with an increased interest in everything Brazil. Plus, there's also plenty of opportunity to attract and engage the Brazilian community in major metropolitan areas for events other than Brazil Day. Though Summerfest only features music events, it has already been able to accomplish both by appealing to Brazilian and American audiences. Aside from film festivals, there's a lot of focus on Brazil Day in New York, but there's obviously room for more comprehensive events with a focus on Brazil. Clearly, the Brazil Summerfest organizers are on to something, and there's even more room to grow.
Photos by Eliseu