Artist picture of Flavia Coelho

Flavia Coelho

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Flavia Coelho is a nomad by nature with a thirst for adventure that was inherited from her mother, beautician for the first transvestites in the neighbourhood of São Gonçalo in Rio de Janeiro. Growing up she listened, as loudly as possible, to Diana Ross, Nina Hagen and the divas of popular Brazilian songs like Gal Costa and Maria Bethânia, whereas her father collected cassettes of traditional music of the Nordeste. As a little girl she was full of the sound of Forro and the Repente music of Brazilian griots. Flavia was 8 when her family moved to São Luis, also known as the Island of Love, situated between tropical forests, marsh lands and beaches. At this time she wandered through the house singing with a bucket on her head. It was with this homemade echo chamber – an idea of her mother - that she discovered her voice. She was only 14 when she answered an ad to join As Solteirissimas (The Bachelors) a group of girls who were looking for a new singer. A double life began! Secretly she sang in bars working relentlessly on her voice and rhythms, in styles that ranged from grunge to punk, rock to jazz, rap to pop. The pretty carioca was not fainthearted. Flavia experienced all sorts of hell: hanging around some of the most dangerous parts of the town, staying up all night in squats and bus shelters and crossing the length and breadth of Brazil to be heard. She left Rio in 2006, the very moment she was making a name for herself, to start from scratch in Paris, the city of her dreams. It was the period when she sang in the subway, passed the hat in bars, did child-minding, cleaning jobs and even walked dogs. In Paris, the Cameroon guitarist and bass player Pierre Bika Bika taught her African rhythms and with her wrote the first album, Bossa Muffin, which was produced by Victor-attila Vagh and came out in 2011. That year she obtained the Génération Réservoir Newcomer of the year Award which proved to be a springboard from which she has never looked back; jumping on tours that seemed never-ending, crossing borders and making unforgettable memories like when she opened for Gilberto Gil at Nuits de Fourvière (Lyon) in 2012. In 2013, the restless Brazilian brought out the ultra upbeat EP Bossa Muffin, Remixes and Inéditos, contributed to the official theme song for Marseille-Provence European Capital of Culture, received the Golden Women Music Breakthrough prize and got dancing around the happy crowd, the well-known Ultra Bal. Since living in Paris, Flavia finds that “everything sounds Brazilian”. That’s exactly what you feel when listening to Mundo Meu, produced by the same producer as her first album, Victor-attila Vagh and mixed by Tom Fire. She unfolds her inner world like an immense, multicoloured urban map. Her flow resonates to an urban Baile Funk, the Repente of her father becomes Afrobeat, the Forró and Samba find a new life fuelled with Hip-Hop, African roots join Kanak chants, Bolero joins Ragga while East European music becomes tropical via Jamaica. Flavia is one who builds new aural textures on the memory and culture of Brazilian music. More in touch with her roots in Mundo Meu than in her previous release, Bossa Muffin, she goes back to her past and plunges us into an urban jungle coloured with native slang. “In Mundo Meu I don’t only sing about the beauty of Brazil bust also the dangers I experienced throughout my childhood“. On “Fora la Lei” (Outlaw) with its electronic base of percussions, hypnotising us in gusts with its pictures of Rio and its favelas, Flavia intones a hymn of homage to street artists and workers. “Amar e Amar” (Love & Love) sings of the solidarity between expatriates against a Mandingo guitar overlapped by a big Dub - Reggae bass. In the song “Power of Money”, Flavia chants a satire on the perverse effects of money and turns into an ironic gypsy priestess dancing to a Balkan ska. Her soul and slightly saudade inflections, over a 70s hip-hop flute on “O Dom” (The Don), featuring Speech of Hip-Hop band Arrested Development, suggest that each one of us has something good to offer, even the worst crook. On “People Dansa”, featuring Tony Allen, she sings of the end of immigration to Brazil and enjoys the fulfilment of one of her dreams : singing to the rhythms of the Afrobeat Master. The fusional duet with Patrice on “Espero Voce” (I Wait for You ) is a gentle and suave Reggae recounting the story of girls who unexpectedly fall in love with their best friend, a little unsure as they get rushed by the romantic appeal . “Por Cima” (Underneath) evokes a woman who sacrifices all for her man in a revisited Brazilian Bolero inspired by the traditional songs her father listened to. “Hoje” (Today) with Fixi and the Ultra Bal ensemble, is about living now while advancing open-mindedly and offers a breath of fresh Forró air against machos with a bit of Zouk, Java accordion, scat and a psychedelic choir. At 18 and exhausted, Flavia would cross Rio to sing standards in the bars until dawn. Did she know then that one day her name would be writ large in red letters on the front of the greatest Parisian music hall that is l’Olympia ? The 13 new and vibrant tracks on Mundo Meu succeed brilliantly in giving you the urge to join the party with Flavia and your friends, to climb a mountain while dancing the calypso, to paint your optimism with graffiti on all the walls and to finally believe that man is basically good natured.