Friday, April 11, 2008


Vila Fortaleza
January 2008

Nei holding a child at the forró party at Vila Fortaleza.

In the Umbanda tradition an important group of helpful spirits are known as the crianças -- the children. Nei just seems to naturally exude this energy -- in his being and in his music.

Nei and Adriano brought a great deal of joy to this year's festival at Vila Fortaleza and they would often just start playing -- getting us all "in the spirit" by beginning with the popular children's song
, "Sing Little Bird."

And soon we would all be singing and clowning -- goofy stuff like Saturnino making funny faces and Holderness offering a unique style of harmonica playing. Geri, Zuleide, Jacqueline, Reinaldo, Muriel and everyone got drawn into the fun.

Then Nei sang the traditional song Cabocla Jurema. In the Umbanda tradition Caboclos are the spirits of Brazilian native Indians. The song is from the popular culture of the Northeast of Brazil and has been made famous by one of the giants of Brazilian popular music Maria Bethania.

Nei and Adriano singing this simple version, with the sounds of children in the background, touched me deeply. It still opens my heart and brings tears to my eyes.

The lyrics say:

Cabocla your plume is green
your plume is green
is the color of the sea

is the color of Cabocla Juremá
is the color of Cabocla Juremá
is the color of Cabocla Juremá


I go bathe myself
in the clear waters
in the waters of Jananina
there in clear waters

On another day Nei came over to where I was camped, sat down among the trees and sang a beautiful prayer that had been put to music by Chandra Lacombe.

The lyrics say:

Sweet name of Jesus
Sweet name of Maria
Send us your peace
Your light and joy

Blue star of dharma
Beacon of our duty
Deliver us from bad karma
Teach us how to live

Yes, in many places -- East and West, country and city -- we are learning the good ways to live. Music and friends really help. In the coming posts I will travel with the Luiz Mendes comitiva to the south of Brazil where we will find many friends and much music.

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