TUCA – Xango
Philips 6136 001 Série Parade Couleurs France 1970
Track 1 – Xango
Track 2 – Umbanda
The life of the beautiful Tuca was sadly short lived, but she left behind for us some truly glorious musical gifts, including this outstanding 7″. She also played a very important part of a particular album from an artist I have loved my for a big part of my life, Francoise Hardy. So much to celebrate regarding Tuca, but with heart break, there should be so much more.
Brazilian singer, guitarist and songwriter Valeniza Zagni da Silva was born on 17 October 1944 in São Paulo, Brazil. In 1957, Valeniza began to compose while studying classical music at the Conservatory of São Paulo, and a little later during the mid-sixties, she participated in several TV talent-shows while being part of the Group of Popular Music at the University of Architecture and Urbanization of São Paulo. She made her first steps as a professional musician, writing the music for Homem de Verdade, penned by Consuelo de Castro and recorded by singer Ana Lúcia in 1962. Valeniza made her singing debut on the television show Primeira Audição, produced by João Leão and Horácio Berlinck, and would further participate in several very popular Brazilian TV singing contests.
In 1965, Valeniza came up with her new stage name Tuca, and the year saw the release of her first LP Meu Eu. She composed the music on twelve songs of the thirteen, and wrote the lyrics on three, while co writing all the others, including six tracks along side Mexican pop-folk-singer, songwriter, actress, politician and vedette, Irma Consuelo Cielo Serrano Castro, later known simply as “La Tigresa”. Not an easy album to find these days with no re-release. The following year in 1966, in the second Festival Nacional da Música Popular Brasileira, she performed with Airto Moreira a song called Porta Estandarte which was awarded first place, and won them the 1966 Berimbau Golden Award. She followed that prize with a second place position in the 2nd International Music Festival – National Sector, with her composition O Cavaleiro. These award winning songs would then of course also be released as a singles in 1966.
In 1968, she signed a contract with Philips Records who would release her next album, simply self titled Tuca. Similar to her previous album, this release also contains quite complex arrangements and dynamic rhythms and pacing, but also with some absolute soft tones as within Verde and O Cavaleiro E A Virgem. She would also compete in the Festival Nacional de Música Popular Brasileira, singing one of her composition Paixão segundo o amor (Passion according to love) with soprano Stella Maris, which won third place. You really start to comprehend the broad talent of Tuca, and what she was capable of, when you hear tracks like this. The songs from these performances and artists were released on the LP O Brasil Canta No Rio in 1968.
In 1969, due to political issues and rising tensions in Brazil, Tuca went to Europe and settled in Paris and would perform every night at a Brazilian restaurant called La Feijoada. It is here it is believed, in 1971, where she was noticed and befriended by French singer and songwriter (and Goddess) Francoise Hardy. Tuca and Hardy connected very well; the singer later described their meeting as “love at first sight”, personally and artistically speaking. With Tuca’s expressive mind and her Brazilian influence, Hardy was confident she could escape her marketed pop look and sound, and could now really explore new boundaries. Hardy was particularly infatuated with Même sous la pluie, a song Tuca had written for another artist but eventually gave to Hardy. Together they began working on her eleventh album, Hardy’s magnum opus “Françoise Hardy” (also known as La Question, and Un Recueil De Mes Poésies – A Collection Of My Poems in Japan). Lyrically, the album encompasses themes of love, anxiety, eroticism and fear, attributed to instabilities in Hardy’s relationship with Jacques Dutronc at that time. Tuca was also suffering from an unrequited love at the time of the recording. She desired and wanted to be with the Italian actress Lea Massari, who in contrast, had no romantic connection nor was that way inclined. It is believed that this would also shape the album’s content.
The album was not well received by French audiences and radio stations upon release, but today it is celebrated as one of the most important works in Hardy’s discography, now viewed as a turning point in her career, in which she moved toward a less commercial and more sophisticated style. Tuca composed the music for all but one song on the album (Doigts), and rehearsed them with Hardy every day for a month before recording the album (with Guy Pedersen on bass) finishing each track after three takes. After the recording sessions, the duo took a break in Corsica, returning later to compose the string arrangements. For this, Tuca played different themes on a piano for Hardy; once they were chosen, Raymond Donnez was asked to write them. Thus, the making of La Question also marked the first time Hardy “participated in such a crucial choice”. With Tuca’s musical direction and guitar playing, this is truly an incredible album from Francoise! It’s my favourite LP of hers, and apparently also the record Francoise is most proud of and revered. I am falling in love again with this album, rediscovering it, and it’s helping me through this current tough lock down time.
Tuca would release two singles in 1970. The first single was Negro Negrito, which also had the B side Que C’Est Bon L’Amour, and had three separate pressings, from France, Italy and Brazil. The second 7″, this featured single, includes two incredibly fiery tracks, Xangõ on the A Side, and Umbanda on the flip side. Xango is new territory for Tuca with it’s tribal beat and frantic pacing, and unlike anything she had produced before. The B side is even faster and more up tempo. I couldn’t find any production credits other than “Tuca” with this release. This single would also come with a Venezuela release in 1972, and would end up being her final single. Neither of these releases were met with success, and her contract with Philips was subsequently broken.
However in 1974, on her return to Brazil, Tuca would sign with Brazilian label Som Livre, giving her now the belief she would have the opportunity to really express her music from deep within her soul and with all her musical abilities. Her masterpiece, Dracula I Love You, would be her final album. Recorded with Mario De Castro in Michel Magnes’ Château D’Hérouville Studios, where artists such as Pink Floyd and David Bowie would record, the album is a journey through darkness and light, sometimes experimental, and sometimes with tradition. It’s a blessing that Tuca had the opportunity to make this final art work. With no official re release, this album is incredibly difficult to find, which is a real shame as it really is a testament to Tuca and her artistry. I discovered a great article by Diego Olivas, who writes about this album and recommend you have a read (see fondsound.com link below).
As astonishing as her last album was, it also didn’t receive the sales or accolades it deserved, and with the label reluctant to promote the album, I’m sure investing towards any further recordings wasn’t a high priority for the recording company.
Tuca had a big voice and personality and perhaps a demanding passion that went with it. She comes across as fun and radiating when you see footage of her, but with the media always asking about her weight, diet and appearance, and less about her art, well this would have affected her deeply. She was a musical genius, and far too complex for most to comprehend, and maybe management would have found that difficult to market.
Due to complications from aggressive and intense dieting, and a draconian weight-loss program, resulting in inanition starvation, Tuca would leave us in São Paulo on May 8, 1978 at the age of 33.
– del Piero
NOTE – In 1970 Tuca also played guitar for her compatriot Nara Leão, on her album Dez Anos Depois, a double album of Bossa Nova standards and haunting ballads.
Research and references:
Tuca fan page with great pics, videos and tributes
Top right photo of Tuca by Eustaquio Trindade Neto.
Dracula I Love You article by Diego Olivas fondsound.com
Tuca – Vídeos Raros ( Rádio Retrô AM ) – This link includes incredible footage of Francoise Hardy singing Même sous la pluie, and also features Véronique Sanson alongside Tuca.
Entrevista da cantora TUCA na Argentina no começo dos anos 70 videoraridade
Rosa Maria – Samba Maneiro
Brazil – Tapecar – CS 376 Year 1973
Track 1 Samba Maneiro
Track 2 Alegria De Poeta
I feel many of these incredible artists, who in my opinion are the top singers and performers of the time, seem to be constantly hidden in a faraway past, with very minimal traces of timelines and successes. Perhaps there’s some personal experiences that should stay in the past? Or maybe in some places, those pivotal moments and events that happened, are still living strong in many hearts, and that’s enough? Perhaps in Brazil, Rosa Maria is still celebrated and gets the recognition she deserves? But to an outsider and fan like myself, that today lives and breathes this music, and who really wants to learn more and more about the artist, it really is a struggle to find facts and details, as is the case with this wonderful singer. I was grateful to discover an interview she did for Museu da Pessoa in 2012. I have referenced some of this information from that source and have tried to translate as best as I can, but please forgive me if I have misinterpreted anything.
This truly is one of my most prized Brazilian records, and one that gets played a lot, and will always excite me on every drop. So here’s what I can find out the lovely Rosa Maria.
Rosa Maria Batista de Souza was born Febuary 27, 1945, in Machado, Minas Gerais, a large inland state in south eastern Brazil, and was the daughter of Jorge Batista de Souza and Armanda Costa de Souza. When she was three years old, her mother took her to the Tabuleiro da Baiana in Rio de Janeiro, where a children’s singing contest was being run. She sang Chiquita Bacana, which was popular at the time by Emilinha Borba, and won first place. It was always in her blood. Her parents separated when she was very young, and Rosa would live with her paternal grandmother in Machado, until she passed (on the day of the feast of São Pedro). Rosa was only 8 when she passed away. “It was the biggest tragedy of my life! It was torture. She was everything to me. My ground, my sky, everything”.* Rosa then move in with her father, in Sao Paulo, and this part of her life sounds like a particular difficult time for her. Her father had “many wives”, but Rosa says she really struggled with a particular step mother that wasn’t a nice person to her at all, especially when she was growing into a young lady, which I feel must have been a frightful experience for Rosa.
She started working in her father’s dry cleaning business, and at the age of 9, and was responsible for the employees, with all the money she made going back to her father. At the age of 12, the Juvenile Court came to pick her up. The first days spent in the court were frightening and terrible for Rosa. The girls were the worst they had. She didn’t mix with the offenders, so they would burn her with cigarettes and hurt her with needles. Rosa would spend time at a boarding school and working at a plastics factory. But soon she would be offered a place to stay at Pensionato Maria Gertrudes. She describes this time as wonderful and the best phase of her life, because there she would get to study. She would take courses in ceramics, botany, cooking and embroidery. It was subsidized by Diários Associados, TV Tupi and Radio Difusora. And on the corner was Wilma Bentivegna’s house, and when she came home, passing by on the street, the girls would say: “Wilma’s there!” Rosa would run upstairs to the bathroom to sing, to see if she could find her. But Mrs. Maria José said that she shouldn’t and couldn’t be a singer, and that Rosa had to be a teacher. She said that a singer was a slut!
The Diários Associados would send the records that the radio stations no longer wanted, to the Pensionato. These would land into the hands of a very excited Rosa, and this is how she discovered and became infatuated and hooked with classical music, jazz, Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra and so many more artists. She would learn and sing along to all the great songs and arrangements.
Some time passed, Rosa had turned 18, and she would decide to move back to Rio de Janeiro and live with her mother. Rosa describes her mother as a very bubbly person, who liked people, long nails, and painting herself a la Carnival, but it was sad for her to see her mother drinking beer, and going to the Carnival. Rosa hated it and knew she was the exact opposite of her mother. She would struggle living in a house with so many rooms and being so close to domestic fighting and arguing. She just wanted to sing!
With all her books and a Barsa (English Portuguese) dictionary she had bought, Rosa studied long and hard, and soon she would be giving classes around the community teaching English, and making some money. She taught in the mornings and afternoons and would look for more work during the day. She was always trying to search for her dream, trying to get spots on the local radio shows. The first time she went to Rádio Mairinque Veiga, on a program called Papel Carbono, she thought it a good idea to do a Angela Maria piece. She was “gonged” but that didn’t make the determined Rosa give up. At Rádio Tupi, where Rossini Pinto presented Today É Dia de Brotos, she sang a song in English and another in Portuguese. Pinto of course invited her back. **
He would introduce Rosa Maria to Jair de Thaumaturgo, one of the main broadcasters from Rádio Mairinque Veiga, where he had a program called Alô Brotos that featured young singers playing rock music, and this is how it is said Rosa got introduced to TV interest. In 1964, the artist started to collaborate for TV Tupi and TV Rio, and in 67 she was hired by TV Record. Many were proposing Rosa to perform American music including conductor, arranger, DJ and singer Erlon Chaves who had a program called Embalo. Rosa was popular on Blota Júnior’s music game show Essa Noite se Improvisa also around this time. This family favourite show aired on Thursday nights for 3 years, and every week, 6 music guests would come on arguing facts about songs and lyrics. Some artists had a prodigious musical memory and would always win. This was the case of Chico Buarque, Caetano Veloso, Carlos Imperial, Silvio César, Rosa Maria and the MPB4 group (Música Popular Brasileira 4), who would always be represented by one of its members, Aquiles. Rosa recalls how she was treated with great affection and attention because they knew where she had came from. “In my first show with Wilson Simonal, he took care of me”. Through television, she was discovered by Roberto Menescal and André Midani, who saw her and invited her to record their first album.
But while all this radio and TV direction was developing, Rosa had already started her music career, singing bossa nova and jazz at the infamous Beco das Garrafas, the name given to a cul-de-sac on Duvivier Street, which housed a group of popular nightclubs in the 50’s and 60’s. This was the meeting place for young Brazilian musicians including Sergio Mendes, Luis Carlos, Bebeto and Wilson das Neves and so many more. Also many now legendary singers would meet here including Elis Regina, Jorge Ben, Sylvia Telles and Simonal.
Bossa Nova was the bones of this exciting movement, but the fact is, that almost all of those artists from the lane, really liked jazz. Bossa would present a handful of songs that would serve as standards, but with so many musicians meeting and exchanging experiences and ideas daily, a revolution and new progression that would be the keynote in the 60’s, would form, a new Samba Jazz style. Groups began to emerge, such as the Tamba Trio, the Bossa Três , by Luís Carlos Vinhas, the Sextet by Sérgio Mendes and Sambossa 5 among dozens of others.
Rosa adapted well to the Bossa, Samba and jazz repertoire, and in 1965 she recorded her first EP for Odeon, which included the upbeat Tudo Rosa and also Vai Em Paz, a cover of Walk On By composed by Burt Bacharach. The following year she released the single of Pãozinho Do Leblon with the very great Samba Jovem on the B side. Also 1966 would see her first LP by the name of Uma Rosa Com Bossa and would included the outstanding tracks Capoeira De Oxalá, Minha Filosofia, Fica Só Comigo (with Wilson Simonal) and the brilliant Peter Gunn themed O Grito. This album is so rich and timeless. Orchestrated by João Theodoro Meirelles, composer, arranger, saxophonist and flutist, credited as one of the originators of Samba-Jazz and an important figure in the Bossa Nova movement. And produced by Lyrio Panicali, conductor, arranger and pianist. This would be her only LP release for quite some, up until 1980 on the release of Vagando. But she would release over a dozen singles before that LP release, and some are real rippers, with standouts from 1972, Deixa não deixa and Avenida Atlantica, and also the big Rio Da Felicidade in 1976.
Rosa’s first musical theater experience was in 68, in the production Hair. “It was a revolutionary piece. People were naked. I didn’t get naked because I was already a singer and it wasn’t good for my image to be naked, but a lot of actors did. It was a wonderful experience, it made me smarter about the world.”* She would perform in Hair for a good year.
From the beginning of the 80’s, Rosa Maria established herself as a jazz singer, playing alongside the Traditional Jazz Band. She would release 8 more LP’s from 1980 to 1992. A department store TV commercial in 1988 that included her version of California Dreamin by The Mamas & The Papas, lifted her to the top of the charts. In the late 90’s Rosa changed her name to Rosa Marya Colyn. In 1991, she was honored in her birthplace, Machado, in the state of Minas Gerais, in a gala night at the Clube dos 30, with the Cidade Presépio Award, for her body of work. She would also appear on a few popular TV shows over the years, presenting her acting talent.
I strongly suggest for readers to have a listen to the Rosa Maria interview linked below from 2012. It’s lovely hearing and watching her talk. You can clearly see her eyes light up when things were good, and get that understanding when they weren’t so good. I loved learning a bit more about the wonderful Rosa Maria.
*Museu da Pessoa Project: Suburbia – Rede Globo
A consciência negra de Rosa Marya Colin (you tube link)
** Rossini Pinto was one of the most important names in the Jovem Guarda movement, and helped establish several artists, including Roberto Carlos and Erasmo Carlos, with his own compositions and Portuguese versions of British and American rock songs.