Though this may come as a surprise to those unfamiliar with Brazil's music scene, DAÚDE is a rare find: a black woman in Brazil's eclectic pop-roots music, known as Música Popular Brasileira (MPB), and the first to fuse MPB with African roots and modern production values, setting the whole thing alight with sensual, driving dance beats.
While many of her peers have been abandoning Brazilian music to undertake rock, hip-hop, techno, and dance, Daúde takes the opposite tack. She looks to see how these forms can be brought back to enhance Brazilian music, not to replace it. The mix is all her own and the style she has created is unique.
After a four-year break between albums of new material, she is back with her first album on Real World Records. "Neguinha Te Amo is really an homage to the Brazilian woman and her strength," says Daúde, "and to the legacy of mixed races, the happiness, humor, and knowing tolerance of the Brazilian people, and, finally, to Africa, expressed naturally and in a modern style. Throughout, my challenge was to show another side of Brazilian music."
The word 'Neguinha' is a term of endearment in Portuguese and means little black girl, the album title being therefore 'Little Black Girl, I Love You.'
The stories she tells on Neguinha Te Amo are richly varied, and they're told in the language of the music as well as in the lyrics. Through the percolation of loops and beats, Daúde is seeking to re-emphasize the African soul of the music while she bolsters the innately Brazilian.
Daúde has collected songs that treat romantic topics, but also social and political ones. She explains, ""Muito Quente", for example, describes how black brothers and sisters can feel about themselves, with positive imagery that's also full of humor. "Crioula", a duet with the great Jorge Benjor, is a celebration of black Brazilian womanhood. And "Uma Neguinha" describes a personal experience that all women of color will recognize."
None of this is to say that Neguinha Te Amo is some intellectual exercise. Daúde's voice and attitude sail over music that's very earthy, rhythmic, danceable, and sexy.
Daúde was born Maria Waldelurdes Costa de Santana Dutilleux, hence the opportune switch to three syllables (it's pronounced Dah-oo-jee). She was born in Salvador, Bahia, the pulsing heart of African Brazil, and spent her first eleven years there. "I was born in a blessed place," she says. "I grew up in a favela where the song of the crickets and the noise of the swamp were pure symphonies." Her father introduced her to the great Brazilian interpreters and popular traditions, her mother and aunts to the romantic singers and those of the great generation of Brazilian popular music stars like Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Maria Bethânia, Chico Buarque, and a host of others.
When Daúde was eleven, the family moved to Rio de Janeiro. It was there, on radio, that she heard American soul artists and British blues rockers for the first time, mixed in with her beloved Brazilians. When the family moved away again, years later, she stayed, studying singing professionally. Then she took a university degree in Portuguese and Literature.
Her career began in theatrical musicals and in nightclubs throughout Rio de Janeiro, leading to record her first disc in 1995, the eponymous Daúde. It was already forging the link between the traditional and modern that Daúde continues to this day. Even on this first release she met with critical raves. She won a Brazilian Grammy, the Premio Sharp, in the new artist category. Her second disc appeared in 1997, DAÚDE #2, this one co-produced by Will Mowat (Soul II Soul, Angélique Kidjo, Chico César) and Celso Fonseca. "She was the first of the younger generation to get into fusing MPB with beats and loops," Will explains. On that album, their first collaboration, the roster of songs helped add an international audience to Daúde's already impassioned Brazilian one.
"Her musical vision is her own," Will says of Daúde. "She is urban, sophisticated, feminine and romantic, and loves techno and dance and clubbing. Not for her the Brazilian clichés of sand and sun. She always felt her destiny was outside of Brazil, but with her feet planted in the Brazilian soil."