Mulheres de Chico, Beyond the Blocos

By Candy Pilar Godoy, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Splashes of red and pink, intense drumming, and a hoard of vibrant and evocative females have taken over Rio’s most popular music venues as of late. Mulheres de Chico (Chico’s Women), a group comprised of 25 female musicians, has emerged as one of Rio’s must-see groups, after transforming from tribute band to all out musical spectacle.

Mulheres de Chico perform for fans at their Carnival bloco in Leblon, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, News

Mulheres de Chico perform for fans at their Carnival bloco in Leblon, photo by Mulheres de Chico.

The band formed when female percussionists bonded over their mutual affinity for Chico Buarques’ music. They began rendering unique interpretations of his work and performing at Carnival blocos.

In 2003, friends Gláucia Cabral and Vivian Freitas conceptualized a musical group of all women who would pay tribute to one of their favorite artists, Chico Buarque. According to them, Brazilian artist Francisco Buarque de Hollanda, better known as Chico, best expressed the feminine soul in his work.

Their dream became reality in 2006, when a colorful mix of musical females came together to play their own original interpretations of Chicos music. The group, assembled mainly of former members of Carnival blocos, such as Monobloco, Quizomba, Bangala Fumenga and Rocha, and various music schools, adopted the name Mulheres de Chico and donned red and pink.

The diverse group applies their traditional samba school training and their own personal style to Chico’s work, exploring national rhythms such as samba, ijexá, jongo, the maculelê and funk carioca. Their recreations developed a unique aesthetic sound and quality, unparalleled by others in the field.

“They have amazing music and great energy,” remarked one fan, “Their performances are electric … it’s great to see them singing, dancing, playing music live.”

They organized their first Carnival bloco five years ago, and now are featured every Saturday after the festivities commencement. Their immense popularity propelled them into becoming a staple act, with large crowds gathering to watch.

Legendary Brazilian singer Chico Buarque, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, News

Legendary Brazilian singer Chico Buarque, photo by Fernanda Steffen/Wikimedia Creative Commons License.

Aline, a Carioca and Carnival enthusiast recounts: “I’ve seen them for the last three years, the first two were on a street in Leblon, but the crowds grew too large, so last year they had it on the beach in Leblon.”

She explains: “I think the music of Chico is the best, the most important in Brazil, and to have a group of girls playing it is great because of the things Chico sings about – women. It’s definitely a perfect way to celebrate Carnival.”

They play Chico classics such as “Deus lhe pague”, “Partido Alto” and “Ate o Fim” to a Carnival crowd of over 12,000 people. Revelers began requesting more, and the annual bloco exploded into year round success.

Mulheres de Chico have now gained recognition in the Brazilian music scene, planning various shows and recording a CD. They perform in theaters, nightclubs, and outdoor concerts, and are currently headlining popular venues like Clube dos Democráticos, Rio Scenarium, Casa Rosa and Arcos da Lapa.

On Friday, July 1st, the ladies gave an electric performance at Casa Rosa, bringing everyone to their feet with their eclectic sounds and powerful energy. The audience rejoiced as they watched women in shades of rose belt out Chico classics and play catchy beats. “Their sets are fun, different…they’re even emotional,” explained one attendee.

Upcoming performances in July include:
July 16 – Rio Scenarium
July 23 – Bar do Tom
July 30 – Teatro Odisseia

To learn about upcoming performances, visit the group website at: www.mulheresdechico.com.br.

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