By Maíra Amorim, Contributing Reporter

Joelma Mendes and Chimbinha, from Calypso, photo by Fundição Progresso.
Joelma Mendes and Chimbinha, from Calypso, photo by Fundição Progresso.

RIO DE JANEIRO – In a time of many crises in the music industry, one band has sold ten million albums in a ten-year career. They are ‘Banda Calypso’: a duo formed by the petite blonde Joelma Mendes and her husband Chimbinha. Self-taught artists, they have created one of the biggest musical phenomena of the past decade in Brazil.

Their music has roots in Caribbean Calypso. The duo add elements of other styles such as Brega, Forró and Zouk, among others.

The Brazilian version of the rhythm – and the group – was born in Pará ten years ago and became an overnight success in the north and northeast of Brazil, especially with the working classes. It didn’t take long though before the sound of Pará spread to the south and began to enter the mainstream. The critical reception was mostly negative however, with complaints of Calypso’s music as corny and poor quality.

Their incredible record sales however tell a different story, as does the fact that Calypso will now perform for the first time at Fundição Progresso, on August 21. The venue is widely considered to be elitist, a confirmation that Calypso have at last achieved recognition for their music.

At Friday’s concert, the band will present their thirteenth album, “Amor sem Fim” (Endless Love). Joelma’s choreography will also take center stage, showcasing her famous routines with a lot of hair swinging. Calypso’s exotic and flamboyant outfits are in fact key to their appeal. Joelha never fails to impress with her ability to sing and dance non-stop in stiletto heels.

The duo’s success allows them to dazzle their fans with concerts boasting all the latest technology. The stage is normally equipped with forty LED screens, sixty movie-lights and forty LED tubes. Apart from the shows, they also keep their fans up to date on Twitter, Orkut and through their official website. They are indeed fully-versed in making the most of internet and social networking tools.

But the truth is they don’t really need it. Joelma’s dancing and charisma and Chimbinha’s music are enough to make the crowd go crazy. They have very faithful fans who follow them everywhere and sing along to all the songs during the shows. And there are even signs that Calypso’s success is spreading outside of Brazil; the duo have recently recorded one of their hits, “Acelerou” (Accelerated) in English for an American film whose name they cannot yet reveal.

Before and after the show in Lapa, there will be a special edition of the party ‘Dancing Cheetah’. DJs Chico Dub, Pedro Seiler and João Brasil will play what they call “outernational” rhythms, defined as music unknown and underrated by the media and the audience.

You can check out a clip on YouTube or on the band’s official website.

Calypso at Fundição Progresso
August 21
Fundição Progresso – 10PM
Rua dos Arcos 24, Lapa – Tel.: 2220-5070
R$50 or R$25 with a student card

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