By Teresa Geer, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Starting as a duo, Folakemi Adelakun de Souza and her Brazilian guitarist husband Andre Severo would play various gigs in Folakemi’s hometown, London. The couple then moved over to Rio in order to take their music more seriously and soon enlisted three additional band members who now complete the Folakemi Quintento band.
Since they began, her neo-soul, jazz and reggae band are making sound waves all around the city and have built a strong fan base; playing at least two gigs a week at bars in Lapa, Botafogo and the like.
Mostly covering music by artists like Amy Winehouse, Billy Holiday and Bob Marley on live sets, the band are also working on their first original EP in the studio. “I think the EP’s going to be something about Renaissance,” Explains Folakemi.
“I feel now that I’m singing it’s like I’ve been born again, my personality’s changed and I’m a lot happier. Before in my life, I was always wishing my life away, always waiting for the next weekend, waiting for my holiday at work. Now that I’m a professional singer I live in the moment and I think that’s made me really happy.” She gleams.
It has not always been a smooth ride though, in a recent controversy the band was arrested by police in Rio while busking on the street, despite it being legal to busk in Rio since 2012. The episode only boosted the support and interest in their music as the video of the arrest went viral on Facebook.
“It was really scary actually, just because we were busking.” Folakemi describes, “But the great thing was that it had so many positive repercussions and we got quite a few shows out of it. People were sending me messages from all over, rooting for us.”
Dealing with police isn’t the only thing that has impaired the singer’s feelings about living in Brazil, as the tattoo across her chest loudly announces;
“It’s a map of Africa. I got it done here about six months ago because at the time I was experiencing quite a lot of racism here and I just thought, you know what – my dad is Nigerian, I’m proud of my roots and I’m going to put it on my chest! I knew I would never regret it.”
When Folakemi is not crooning on the microphone, she can be found relaxing at the beach or whizzing about town on her bicycle, which she guiltily admits is electric, “But only because I live up a hill in Santa Teresa!” she quickly adds. And despite some of the negative aspects she has uncovered as an expat in Rio, the singer still bursts with passion and love for the place she now calls home.
“I’m in a stage now that I’m loving Rio again. I think it’s quite easy to make friends here. Musically it’s fantastic, there’s lots of different types of music. I like the outdoors as well, so the good weather helps.” she explains.
Capture some of Folakemi Quintento’s positive vibrations live at Feira e Festival Gastronomico in Barra on Sunday, September 28th or at Jazz de Portas Abertas, Leviano in Lapa on TTuesday, September 30th.