Daniela Mercury

Considered the Carmen Miranda of the 21st century and winner of many awards, among them, Latin Grammy 2006, the Brazilian singer and dancer Daniela Mercury is coming to Toronto!

By Sacha Vaz and Cristiana Moretzsohn

On October 20th, Daniela will perform at The Kool Haus Guvernment Nite Club. In an exclusive interview given to Wave, Daniela told us about her newest work, Canibália, which includes samba, rock, reggae and samba-reggae. She promises a great show with her band, dancers and full scenery! This show house is located at 132 Queens Quay East, and doors open at 8pm. Tickets are on sale at Ticketmaster and also at Caldense Bakery, Touche Lounge and Portugal Mix.

You are touring the world with your show Canibália, tell us a bit about your latest artistic project.
DM – Canibália is a multiple project, which began in 2009, when I launched the show and CD. Canibália is my Manifesto de Afetos. This album unites many of my artistic references. I am influenced by Tropicalismo, by Modern Art Week 1922, by the Clube da Esquina and so many other cultural movements. For my show “Canibália”, I basically sing the CD repertoire, which includes samba, rock, reggae, samba-reggae, and some emblematic songs from my career like “O canto da Cidade”, “Ilê Pérola Negra” etc.

The scenery is very special. I open the show with a work by Caribé, who is a wonderful artist, and during the show there is also a work by Portinari… In my show the main priority is dance, which was the first art that brought me to the stage. A little bit over a year from the launch of the project with a more mature show, I filmed the DVD “Canibália – Ritmos do Brasil” during New Year’s in Copacabana of this year. It was a beautiful show, with over 2 million people present. I have already performed “Canibália” in many Brazilian cities and also Portugal, France, Africa, South America… Now I am touring through the United States, Mexico and Canada. I still want to take this show to many other countries…

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This will be your third show in Canada, what have you prepared for the Brazilian and Portuguese fans?
DM – I can’t even remember how many times I have been in Canada (laughs)… Not including my shows, I was also there for the recording of the DVD for Cirque du Soleil when they had their 20 year celebration. It was a spectacular experience! I love this country! For this show, I am preparing some surprises. I am taking my entire band, my dancers and the complete scenery so that it will be something spectacular to see, hear and dance to.

The DVD of the show, “Canibália – Ritmos do Brasil”, recorded live during the largest New Year’s Eve party in the world in Copacabana, was considered a mega show; what was the experience like?
DM – The entire process that involved the taping of the DVD “Canibália – Ritmos do Brasil” was very special. As I am very restless, I was fully involved in all the steps beginning from pre-production. Besides rehearsing with the musicians, dancers and guests, I paid attention to lighting, costumes, scenery… I did my best so that the show would be unforgettable for the public and for me. It was one of the most special times in my career. A marvellous show, on the water’s edge, for over 2 million people…

In the song “Benção do Samba” you mix many different composers like Ary Barroso, Vinicius de Moraes, Baden Powell and Dorival Caymmi; was this a style innovation?
DM – During my career, I always mixed rhythms and styles… I am an eclectic artist, open to new things. I like to create, try fusions… In 1999, I brought, for the first time, electronic music to the Carnaval in Salvador, in 2010 I mixed my songs with my band to the songs of the 2 de Julho Orchestra, there were over 40 musicians, and it was a beautiful show that thrilled the partiers. On other albums, I mixed the beat of candomblé with electronic music, I mixed reggae with rock, I revisited samba and MPB classics…

For “Benção do Samba”, I mixed Cariocas with a Baiano (laughs). I did a medley with great MPB and samba classics, on “Baixo dos Sapateiros” with “Samba da Minha Terra” and “Samba da Benção”. I love these songs and I sing this medley at the beginning of the show, it is the first song.

When you were younger, when you began your career as a singer, you sang songs by Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso and Chico Buarque; is MPB your favourite style of music?
DM – I began singing in bars in Salvador, singing songs by many Brazilian artists. My musical influence is very diverse. When I was a child, I was woken up in the morning by my dad to the sounds of classical music and jazz. I always listened to Caetano, Gil, Gal, Bethânia, Dorival Caymmi, Carmen Miranda, Elis Regina, João Gilberto, Clube da Esquina and many other spectacular artists that we have in Brazil… I am an artist that came from MPB, I love percussion music made in Bahia, but I also like many other things.

What have you been listening to lately? Who is your favourite singer and/or band?
DM – I am naturally curious (laughs). I like to listen to a little bit of everything and I like new things. Right now, I am listening to Marina de La Riva, The Bird and the Bee, Jorge Drexler, Janelle Monae, Belle and Sebastian…

You are considered by the North American media as the Carmem Miranda of the 21st century, how do you define yourself right now?
DM – Carmen is a reference for me. In 2009 we celebrated 100 years of her birth which is very important for Brazil and the world and I decided to pay homage to her in “Canibália”. I recorded “Tico-Tico no Fubá” and “O que é que a baiana tem”. This last one, thanks to technology and collaboration by Carmen’s family, it was possible to have her singing with me.

But, answering your question, I really don’t worry about defining myself… I am an artist who likes to create. I am open. I am interested in many things… Dance brought me to the stage and made me a singer. I get involved in defining the scenery for my shows because I love art and stage scenery; I understand lighting and participate in the creation; I decide, always, about the costumes; mine, my band’s and the dancers’… I love being on stage and am interested in all aspects of it.

How do you get so much energy to dance and sing during your shows? How do you prepare yourself physically?
DM – I have been doing ballet since I was a child, so, I am conscious of my body, performance and eating right is a part of my life since I was very young. I always exercise and I try to maintain a balanced diet, without being radical. I need energy and conditioning to fulfill my routine.

You do a lot of social work, as the president of the Sol da Liberdade Institute, ambassador for UNICEF and for the Ayrton Senna Foundation. Do you have a story that touched you and made you “see” life from another perspective?
DM – My mother is a social worker and I grew up watching her fight for her interests in regards to Brazilian social issues. So, I have been conscious of it since I was young. The fact that I am an artist helped me act more directly with many issues. Today I have my own institute. – Instituto Sol da Liberdade – and I travel throughout Brazil with the Caravan of music, which is a project that I, ESPN and UNICEF created. For 16 years I have been a UNICEF ambassador and I also represent the Ayrton Senna Institute. I work mainly with public interest campaigns as an instrument for promoting social themes. I always get emotional! Brazil is a country with serious social problems. Every time I visit a city, institution, orphanages and I hear the children’s and teen’s stories about their lives, and their stories of overcoming difficulties… This is always a great life lesson.

You are the daughter of a Portuguese man and you are very popular in Portugal. To what do you attribute your success in that country? Is Portugal your second home?
DM – Brazilian music is very rich and plural and the Portuguese people, probably because of our history and the language, know our diversity very well. They understand and appreciate my art since the beginning of my career. I feel at home every time I go to Portugal. I love that country!

Have you had the opportunity to do any tourism in Canada? Do you have a favourite place?
DM – I have been to Canada a few times and I was enchanted with the country. It is beautiful! This time, I will go to Toronto and I think also Montreal and I want to walk around the cities a bit more…

Carnaval 2012 coincides with the 100 year celebration of Jorge Amado, what can the revellers expect of the next Carnaval in Bahia?
DM – They have already announced that they will pay homage for the 100 years since the birth of Jorge Amado during the next Carnaval. When I found out the theme for this Carnaval will also be this great literary master, I was very happy! It will be a great party! Jorge deserves all of our respect and admiration. His writing helped put Bahia on the map for millions of readers in Brazil and the world. I am very proud to be from the same country as him. I have kept up with and studied Jorge’s work to construct my show during Carnaval. I have many ideas, but I cannot talk about it (laughs).

Do you have a message for your Brazilian and Portuguese fans in Canada?
DM – I would like for all the Brazilians, Portuguese, Canadians and all those who love art and Brazilian music to be with me at my show “Canibália” that I will perform in Canada. Music is a universal language and art brings us together. Let’s sing, dance and have a lot of fun, reaffirming our affinity. I am waiting for you!