By Chesney Hearst, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – In the hopes of introducing more jazz music to the favela of Cantagalo while encouraging more tourists and residents of Zona Sul (South Zone) and of greater Rio de Janeiro to travel to the community, the Tiki Hostel will host the premiere edition of the Morro do Cantagalo Jazz Festival on Saturday, June 6th.
Performers during the event will include Brazilian singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer Celso Fonseca; Brazilian composer and pianist Marcos Ariel; and well-known British singer Jesuton. Additionally performing during the festival will be the Wilson Meireles Jazz Band, the band Macumbazz, and emerging Brazilian singer Natasha Llerena, who previously performed as part of three editions of the Back2Black festival, both as a backing vocalist and as a solo act.
The Morro do Cantagalo Jazz Festival was created by Carioca (Rio resident) and father of Natasha Llerena, Felippe Llerena, who when asked about the creation and location of the festival, said that in addition to the activities and events in the area, “Not many people are aware of the view.”
“Also, jazz is very popular right now,” Llerna explained, later adding, “The reason I wanted to do a festival in the favela is because there’s not much connection between those communities and the city. Everyone ùp there has to come down, so I think it’s good to provide an opportunity to make things the other way around.”
“A lot of people have probably never been to a favela before this festival. If they have it was probably Vidigal or Dona Marta, where there are places for tourists,” said Llerena. “I think it’s important for people to realize that there is such a difference [in the favelas]. It’s like a city within a city.”
Llerena has worked in the music industry for over two decades. In 1992, he created the label, Natasha Records, which distributed both local Brazilian musicians as well as major American indie and rock bands. Llerena later left Natasha Records and created the label, Nikita Music, naming each label after each of his daughters. With Nikita Music, Llerena turned his focus to roots and electronic music and he is now focused on producing events including the Morro do Cantagalo Jazz Festival.
The festival will take place in the Cantagalo favela. Sitting perched on the hills behind the Zona Sul neighborhood of Ipanema, the location does offer picturesque views of the city, including the famous Copacabana Beach.
In 2009, Cantagalo became one of the earliest favelas to be included in the Rio de Janeiro Police Pacifying Unit (UPP) program. However, the community, after a period of calm, faced growing unrest as tension rose between the UPP and the residents following the death of 26-year-old Douglas Rafael da Silva Pereira, a professional dancer and resident of neighboring favela, Pavão-Pavãozinho.
Dale Smith, owner of the Tiki Hostel, when asked if safety would be a concern during the festival, told The Rio Times; “The police have seven storied building fifty meters from our hostel and it is therefore quite safe. The People in the community are friendly and welcoming. I have been involved in the community with setting up rugby schools for eight years and have grown to love the place. The locals are generous, friendly and welcoming.”
When asked how and why he opened a hostel in Cantagalo, Smith, a New Zealand native, who is also heavily involved with the sport of rugby in the city including the Rio Ruby Club, explained; “Tiki Hostel has been open for one year. It opened just in time for the World Cup. Through my involvement with rugby social projects in Cantagalo, I got to know lots of children and parents. My curiosity with Cantagalo grew and being an entrepreneur, I started looking for economically viable projects that could have a social aspect also.”
While real estate prices recently plummeted in both the Cantagalo and Pavão-Pavãozinho communities, tourism and cultural events are on the rise, including a new hiking trail , activities and events in the museum, Museu de Favela, and the upcoming Morro do Cantagalo Jazz Festival.
The festival will begin in the Tiki Hostel at 8PM on Saturday, June 6th and continue until 4AM. Maximum capacity is 250 for the event. To ensure entry, purchase tickets online here, before the event.
What: Morro do Cantagalo Jazz Festival
When: Saturday, June 6th, 8PM – 4AM
Where: Tiki Hostel, Estrada Cantagalo, Favela Cantagalo (via Rua Saint Roman), Copacabana.
Directions: From Rio de Janeiro Metrô – Take the Teixeira de Mello exit to the Favela Cantagalo elevator, which runs from 7AM to 11PM.
Bus: Exit at the stop following Rua Sá Ferreira.
There are both moto-taxis and vans that travel from that point to the Cantagalo UPP (Pacifying Police Unit)