Tag Archives: Chico Cesar

Artist Profiles: Chico César

Chico César in 2002


A brilliant performer and songwriter, Chico César creates unforgettable contemporary music based on the contagious melodies and rhythms of Brazil. Aos Vivos is a wonderfully rare and intimate recording that launched the career of Chico César as one of Brazil’s top singer-songwriters. Self produced and recorded live with special guests Lenine and Lenny Gordin, Aos Vivos is a unique journey inspired by the rhythms of Northeastern Brazil.

Francisco (Chico) César Goncalves was born January 26, 1964 in Catolé do Rocha, Paraíba, in Northeastern Brazil. Music was always an integral part of Chico’s life and existence. César’s musical education began at age 8. He learned to play the recorder while working in a record store. As his musical interest and talent increased, he began to study more seriously.

He finally made the decision to move to Sao Paulo where he could concentrate on his career as a musician. His innovative style and country background were at first a hindrance to César. He was banned from playing at the more fashionable venues in Sao Paulo yet his style was too original for the traditional forro dance clubs. This never discouraged him.

His originality and Northeastern background became the leading factors that distinguished César from other musicians and placed him among Brazil’s leading MPB musicians. César’s first album Aos Vivos, was a huge success. César immediately became one of the most requested artists in MPB, selling out concert halls and topping the radio charts.


Chico César in 2005


Popular artists such as Daniela Mercury, Zizi Possi and Elba Ramalho have all recorded his music. In Aos Vivos, César pays tribute to his roots with “Paraiba,” a tune written by Gonzaga and Teixeira that tells the story of a woman’s courage and the monotony of her life after her man travels south in search of work. “Alma noa Tem Cor,”(soul has no color), by Karnak’s Andre Abujamra is the only other tune of 15 written by a composer other than César.

Chico César became nationally and internationally known in 1996 with the song “Mama Africa”. The music video won the award for “Best MPB Music Video” in MTV Video Music Brazil (VMB) in 1997 and is considered one of the milestones of MTV Brazil.

In 2007 he participated in the film Paraíba, Meu Amor, by the Swiss filmmaker Jean Robert-Charrue, whose theme song is his own.

Chico César took office of the presidency of the Cultural Foundation of João Pessoa (Funjope) in May of 2009. From January 2011 to December of 2014 he was Secretary of Culture of the state of Paraíba.


Aos Vivos (Velas, 1995)
Cuzcuz-Clã (Polygram, 1996)
Beleza Mano (Polygram, 1997)
Mama Mundi (2000)
Respeitem meus cabelos, brancos (2002)
De uns tempos pra cá (2006)
Francisco, forró y frevo (EMI, 2008)
Estado de Poesia (2015)

Website: www.chicocesar.com.br


Travel the World with Putumayo DVD

Travel the World with Putumayo


The first in a series of DVDs, Travel the World with Putumayo features music videos and concert performances by some of the label’s favorite artists filmed on location in India, Brazil, Senegal, Cuba and beyond. Known for creating collections of international artists for the past decade, Putumayo has uncovered videos and live performances which are sure to appeal to audiences of all ages.

With few broadcast outlets, most of these videos have never been viewed outside their country of origin. The video for Ricardo Lemvo’s Afro-Latin hit Mambo Yo Yo was filmed in Havana, Cuba and captures the city’s vibrant energy.

Czech gypsy singer Vera Bílá’s Pas O Panori video transports the viewer to a rustic Eastern European Gypsy village. Senegalese band Tukuleur’s Afrika features majestic shots of the West African landscape and scenes filmed on Goree Island, an infamous transfer point during the slave trade.

Egyptian singer Hisham Abbas’ Nari Nari features colorful Bollywood-style choreography, striking cinematography and was filmed in the shadow of the Taj Mahal in India. Bidinte, from war-torn Guinea-Bissau, offers a moving song about the impact of war on children and families.

Travel the World with Putumayo also features videos from Brazilian artists Chico César and Rita Ribeiro, Oliver Mtukudzi from Zimbabwe, Senegal’s Touré Kunda, Nigerian band Kotoja, Canadian Celtic singer Mary Jane Lamond and the French-Argentinian electronic tango ensemble Gotan Project. Ten of the twelve featured videos are of songs found on Putumayo albums.

As an added bonus, Travel the World with Putumayo includes Oliver Mtukudzi’s Hear Me Lord filmed live at a nightclub in Zimbabwe, and a powerful concert performance of Habib Koité’s Wassiyé filmed in Huy, Belgium.

Each music video and live performance is viewable with complete subtitles in English, Spanish, French or German, enabling viewers to better understand the songs and their meanings. Also included are insightful biographies of each artist and a short documentary about Putumayo World Music’s history.

Buy Travel the World with Putumayo.


Drop the Debt…and Dance!

Drop the Debt

Drop the Debt (Say It Loud! / World Village 479008, 2003)

The problems following the invasion of Iraq seem to have awakened the Bush administration from a slumber on the need for debt relief (We’re shocked! Shocked!). But the problem of developing-world debt has long been on the mind of others, including the Jubilee organization. Imagine paying 38% of your income just to service your debt. But don’t get me started; we’re here to talk about the music of debt.

Yes, the issue now has an all-star soundtrack, thanks to the efforts of new indie label Say It Loud. Featuring a stellar lineup of musicians (most from Africa and Latin America), Drop the Debt is simply great listening. And even if you’re an amazing polyglot (songs come from 14 different nationalities), you won’t feel like anyone’s hitting you over the head with a guilt skillet. The closest thing to an anti-debt anthem is “The Third World Cries Everyday,” a richly orchestrated, mostly-English song by Africa South, an amazing constellation of musicians including Oliver Mtukudzi, Louis Mhlanga, Suthukazi Arosi, Khululiwe Sithole.

The rest of the CD is even better. It kicks off with the deep reggae mood of “Baba” by the combined forces of Tiken Jah Fakoly (Ivory Coast) and Tribo de Jah (Brazil). Brazilian vocalist Chico Cesar shows just how fast and percussive Portuguese can be sung on the folksy “Il faut payer (devo e não nego),” a collaboration with the Fabulous Trobadors of France. Bringing in Latin sounds is “Cosas pa’ pensar” by Colombia’s Toto La Momposina with a fabulous horn section. Cameroon’s Sally Nyolo combines with Shingo2 of Japan for the drum-and-voice tune “Tilma (remix).” Like turntablism? You’ll dig French group Massilia Sound System’s “Osca Sankara.” If funk is your thing, “Argent trop cher (money’s too expensive)” by Tarace Boulba of France and Ablaye Mbaye of Senegal will definitely help you get a groove on.

Lyrically, the CD stays on topic, though each song highlights a different aspect of the debt burden. The translations give a sense of the widespread problems. Senegal’s El Hadj N’Diaye sings “For 40 years we’ve been repaying / A debt that endlessly grows / … We even say we’ll never be able to pay it back / That it’s planned that way.” Zedess (Burkina Faso) sings “Even a democratic president / Who wants to lead his country out of poverty / Comes up against the policies of the technocrats / Who decide the priorities.”

Massilia Sound System’s “Osca Sankara” includes samples of a speech given on debt relief by Burkina Faso President Thomas Sankara, shortly before his assassination in a coup. Other songs take a more personal look. Tiken Jah Fakoly and Tribo de Jah’s “Baba” laments a farmer who works hard but realizes no profit when the harvest is in. Congolese artists Faya Tess & Lokua Kanza look to the future in “Bana”: “This land belongs to our children / It’s in their name that we demand the debt be canceled / and the accounts revised….”

This is a great CD that just happens to champion a great cause as well. All the tracks are exclusive to this release, and with a variety of styles and consistently high energy it’s bound to have wide musical appeal. Get it as a wide-ranging survey of contemporary world music or as a political statement. But get it.

Okay, just one last word on selective debt relief. Read this statement from the conservative Heritage Foundation, and ask yourself why they and “President” Bush aren’t including Senegal, Burkina Faso, Columbia, Brazil, Zimbabwe, and other poor countries in their push for debt relief. Just substitute one of those countries for “Iraq” and see if it fits as well: “If Iraq’s debts are not forgiven, the Iraqi people will be financially crippled for a generation, or even generations, eliminating any prospect of a growing and prosperous Iraq. If European and Arab leaders truly want to help the people of Iraq, the best way to demonstrate this would be by easing the debt burden.”

For more on debt relief, see:


(c) 2003 Scott Allan Stevens, Earball Media

Buy Drop the Debt.