It’s Child’s Play for Badi Assad in Her Cantos de Casa

A Brazilian in a blizzard:  Badi Assad.  Photo by Julia Crowe.
A Brazilian in a blizzard: Badi Assad. Photo by Julia Crowe.

Badi Assad, named as one of Rolling Stone’s Top 100 Guitarists, has released her latest album, Cantos de Casa, (Songs of Home) this week.  This follows her Between Love and Luck CD of 2013 and it is the second one produced by her new independent label, Quatro Ventos.

Cantos de Casa by Badi Assad (Quatro Ventos).  Click on image for iTunes link.
Cantos de Casa by Badi Assad (Quatro Ventos). Click on image for iTunes link.

Cantos de Casa includes a dozen of the fifty songs Badi has written after her move from São Paulo to the countryside, a creative flurry inspired by the birth of her daughter Sofia, who will be turning seven years old this year. “This was an intense period of songwriting for both myself and my daughter,” she says.

This album release culminates an especially productive time for Badi:  this past January, she co-curated the second half of the 2014 New York Guitar Festival’s Guitar Marathon and premiered her score for Wu Yonggang’s 1934 silent film, The Goddess.  The marathon included a diverse number of spirited, memorable performances by guitarists Douglas Lora and Joao Luiz of the Brasil Guitar Duo, Brazilian jazz guitarist Romero Lubambo, Peruvian classical guitarist Jorge Caballero and Uruguayan Cecilia Siqueira and Brazilian Fernando Lima of the Duo Siquiera/Lima.

Badi performed her own mesmerizing lullaby, The Being Between her guitar positioned as a prepared lap guitar as she tapped its strings with a drumstick. She also performed Luiz Gonzaga’s Villa-Lobos-influenced Estudo #1/ Assum Preto with its haunting lyrics about a caged songbird.  The concert closed with a spirited jam between Badi and Romero Lubambo, with her singing and strumming on her electric-acoustic Frame Works travel guitar as Lubambo’s exuberant playing and singing matched her in improvisational brilliance.

The younger sister of the acclaimed guitar duo, The Assad Brothers, it comes as no surprise that Badi started her musical career playing classical guitar.  However, when symptoms of a motor disability arose, she completely revised her approach to playing and further developed her astonishing, Bobby McFerrin-esque vocal gifts, which allow her to sing and intone vocal percussive effects simultaneously with an otherworldly, ethereal effect.  She has since made a complete recovery and performs her distinctive fusion of pop, jazz and Brazilian music the world over. She has performed with Bobby McFerrin, Yo-Yo Ma, Sarah McLachlan, Brazilian songwriter Seu Jorge and Brazilian jazz percussionist, vocalist and berimbau player, Naná Vasconcelos.

Badi Assad’s performance of Ai Que Saudade D’ocê:

Immediately following her U.S. concert dates, Badi recorded Cantos de Casa at Studio D in Sausalito, California before departing for a European tour with concerts in Denmark, The Netherlands, Portugal, Poland, Czech Republic, Serbia, Spain and Sweden.

Badi Assad.  Photo credit:  Fritz Fotografia.
Badi Assad. Photo credit: Fritz Fotografia.

She also toured Cantos de Casa throughout Brazil this past spring with a children’s theatrical troupe production, complete with colorful costume changes and accompanying musicians who played instruments made from common household items, such as mops, a tambourine made of a saucer flower vase and a bass guitar built from a bucket and broom handle.

The album is gently whimsical and magical, appealing to all ages and features all of Badi’s musical inventiveness and playfulness.  Each song on the album offers a colorful vignette that chimes universally between any parent and child.  O Chacoalho captures the rhythmical, energetic spirit of a growing baby rattling inside his mother’s belly.  Sleepyheads are cajoled to wake and prepare for a school day in Salvador, where the lyrics humorously convey the importance of taking care of one’s teeth, complete with brushing sounds. Café-da-Manhã , sung by Badi’s daughter Sofia, is a hilarious litany of her weekly morning snack indulgences, which includes her vow not to eat things that are bad for her though she does make an exception to taste a disgusting caterpillar.

The song Corpinho Musical on Cantos de Casa urges the exploration of all the musical noises and possibilities one can make, as “your little body is a musical instrument.” No Colo do Papai is a gentle lullaby that speaks of the strength given to a child through a father’s love and playfulness. And Qual É a da Água? which translates to “How is the water?” coaxes the reluctant toward the bath.

Below:  Badi Assad’s Pega no Coco a video from her Love and Luck album, her song which won first prize in the 2013 USA Songwriting Competition.  It’s a fun, humorous song about being a harried parent trying to balance all.  Badi clearly does so, beautifully, with much color, spirit and infectiously joyful melody.

Below:  a short video (in Portuguese) of Badi speaking of her Cantos de Casa album with footage of the recent theatrical production:

For further information, please visit Badi’s website.

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