By Jack Arnhold, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – This coming Monday, Brazilian acting and musical royalty Zezé Motta will be hitting the stage at Teatro Net in Copacabana to mark the release of her new album ‘O Samba Mandou Me Chamar’ (The Samba Said to Call Me).
Considered by many to be one of Brazil’s most important actresses, Zezé Motta’s international breakout film, ‘Xica da Silva’ saw her become the first black female protagonist in Brazilian cinema.
The multi-talented artist has always pursued her musical passions alongside her remarkable acting career, honing her singing skills in the nightclubs of São Paulo long before gaining worldwide renown for her cinematic work.
Her musical career has been as well-received and varied as that of her acting. She has had long-running and successful collaborations with Chico Buarque, starting with her performance in his 1967 play ‘Roda Vida’ (Circle of Life), and Rita Lee, who wrote many songs especially for her first two albums, ‘Zezé Motta’ and ‘Negritude.’
Forty years since her first releases, she is returning with an album entirely of samba. She has always had a close relationship with the genre since recording the classic ‘Senhora Liberdade’ (Lady Liberty) in 1979.
Now this is the first album of hers devoted entirely to this uniquely Brazilian genre; and for this album she has chosen a mixture of old and young composers, including Xande de Pilares and Arlindo Cruz, alongside some more obscure compositions.
For many Zezé Motta is more than a singer or actress, she is an icon of black womanhood. Yasmin Thayaná, director and founder of Afroflix, writing in Nexo Jornal to celebrate last year’s exhibition, ‘Zezé Motta – fifty years of cinema,’ described her as ‘inspiration of strength and determination for many Brazilian black women.’