Feature photo by Joao-Wainer
Luisa Maita was destined for music: Born in Sao Paolo into a family headed by a musician father and a concert-producer mother (who met through music and named her for a famous bossa-nova tune), Maita´s uncles and aunts also included record-label owners, music producers and singer-songwriters.
From her Sao Paolo home, Maita speaks of the many diverse musics that influenced her path, which began in her beloved childhood neighborhood of Bexiga. Here, far from Sao Paolos´ center, she lived immersed in music, thanks to her father Amador, a percussionist, drummer, guitarist and singer, and his musician friends, many of whom were luminaries in the Brazilian Jazz scene. Also in Bexiga, she grew up surrounded with the music of her own family´s Syrian Muslim and European Jewish heritage, as well as the neighborhood´s Italian and Arab sounds and its acclaimed samba school.
Graced with an astonishing voice, Maita´s singing is also particularly persuasive: She has recorded advertising jingles from a very early age (at 7 years of age, she recorded and performed a jingle for Lula´s successful presidential campaign) and most recently in 2009, was featured in the video for Brazil´s successful 2016 Olympic bid.
The hardest part of the abundance of music in her own life, muses Maita, was finding the way to express her own vision and her own path within such a plethora of experiences, a struggle which led her at one point to even consider leaving singing behind entirely. Thankfully for us, she appears to have resolved the dilemma, and her debut solo album, “Lero Lero”, she states, is all about her desire to “express the new Brazil and celebrate a new Brazilian energy”. I was curious as to how to she defines this energy. Maita answers that on the one hand, she wants to bring nature into the mix. Having moved away from the city to the country-side as an adolescent, she comments that in the tradition of older Brazilian tunes that sing of flowers and nature, she takes up similar topics but her lyrics speak of missing nature in an urban environment. It is from her city´s life and energy that all her compositions emerge, Maita adds, and she particularly wants to encourage fellow Brazilians to recognize the beauty of their lives in urban landscapes.
Maita also expressed a particular respect and love for one of her main influences: Billie Holiday: and especially Holiday´s last album, “Lady in Satin”. Holiday, says Maita, sings “without holding back at all, without hiding any of her pain, it´s funny to say, but it´s such a pleasure to hear her singing her pain.” She also admires Holiday´s unique phrasing, and in the laid-back swing of American jazz, finds a certain something akin to the quiet elegance of bossa nova, an aura of tranquility that she also seeks to express in her music.
But above all, says Maita, it´s about creating a new world for yourself through music: “In music you put your dreams, create another environment, create another world… and she concludes, “I make music with very much passion”, echoing the lyrics from her composition titled “Alento”:
“I wasn´t born to fake it
I’m tuned in to the love
We have for life”