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SEU JORGE comes from the outskirts and hits us directly in the soul. While many got a taste of his powerful presence and rough-but-sweet voice from his David Bowie renditions in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, his solo album Cru (Wrasse Records, 2005) will satiate new fans yearning for his pared down, soulful approach.
Jorge was once a homeless kid in a favela (Brazilian slum) outside of Rio de Janeiro. By age ten, he was repairing tires to help support his family.
“Getting out of a favela is a big deal. Gangsters are so powerful. Drug trafficking is rife, and no one has jobs,” he recently told The Independent (UK). Having spent years turning his energies to music and theater, Jorge landed the part of Knockout Ned in City of God, the film that put an international spotlight on favela life, poverty, and violence. This untainted, street credibility shows through, whether Jorge is on screen or on stage.
The music on Cru (which translates as “Raw”) is driven by Jorge’s voice, and while the most obvious accompaniment is acoustic guitar and percussion, there is a subtle electronic presence at times as eerie as a musical saw. Other times the acoustic percussion hints at a hip-hop beat. But the mostly-bare production allows the voice and soul of Jorge to shine through, not too different from a kind of Nick Drake universe.
Seu Jorge is touring North America this summer, giving audiences a chance to see why his presence has led to his unexpected, substantial following.