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Celebrating the Afro-Brazilian artistry of Milton Nascimento

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03.10.2021

Last week I paid tribute to the soulful sound of Afro-Latina songstresses; I decided that I should feature the male half of that vocal spectrum this week. It was then that I realized that I have never featured Afro-Brazilian troubadour extraordinaire Milton Nascimento, though I included him in an early installment of #BlackMusicSunday. So today, the spotlight is on the musical magic of the one and only Milton.

I’d never heard of Milton Nascimento until a volunteer DJ at the Pacifica radio station where I was program director in the late 70s started playing his music. Bill Brown had been in the Peace Corps in Brazil, and gifted our listeners with a weekly show, called Berimbau. As a direct result of Brown’s very popular program, local record stores started stocking Nascimento’s music.

Since his first record release in 1967, Nascimento has gained world-wide acclaim, though from my perspective, he is still not as well known here in the states as his artistry merits.

Let’s see what you think.

Tom Schnabel, world music producer and author of Rhythm Planet, wrote this about Nascimento’s beginnings in 2017:

Milton Nascimento was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1942. He was adopted by white parents, who moved to Três Pontas, a small town in the state of Minas Gerais, a place far removed from what most people associate with the country. But Brazil is a vast, similar in scale to the United States. And like the U.S., its various regions are characterized by different musical styles.

[…]

In Milton’s music, we find a rich brew of elements such as Portuguese fado, Andean music, classical, jazz, and even Gregorian chant. As a child, Milton was exposed to early influences like Nat King Cole and Ray Charles because his father worked at a radio station in Três Pontas, in the southern part of Minas. Later, he heard the soft, gentle voice of a young João Gilberto, who would forever change the sound of bossa nova. By age 15, Milton himself worked as a deejay at the station, spinning sambas, foxtrots, classical music, and jazz. Hence, the eclecticism we hear in his music.

Encyclopedia.com continues his story:

Nascimento traveled to Sao Paulo in 1965, and as an unknown bass player struggled to find work in a saturated club scene. His compositions began to gain recognition, however, and the famous Brazilian singer Elis Regina, who recorded several of his songs, secured him a performance on the national television music program, Fino da Bossa. His big break came in 1967, however, when three of his songs were showcased at the prestigious First........

© Daily Kos


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