It is nothing new for Brazilian performers to adventure to African countries to share and acquire experiences and cultural exchanges. Mel Mattos, a Brazilian singer, and composer was no exception as she yielded to the enchantment of Cape Verde, she recently went on tour there. Mel is 39 years old and after releasing two of her albums, as well as having a consolidated career in Fortaleza, her birthplace, Mel Mattos gave into the enchantments of that African country.
According to the artist, Cape Verde unveiled itself and was strongly connected to Brazilian culture. After returning home and talking with the ATLANTICO team, Mel tells she was warmly received by the Cape Verdeans, even though I was completely unknown in that country. “The people embraced me very affectionately. I could never image performing before such a receptive audience,” she remembers. “The people in Cape Verde are a great asset to the country, as they are wonderful and very affectionate people.”
The people in Cape Verde are a great asset to the country, as they are wonderful and very affectionate people
The invitation to perform in Cape Verde turned up from WM Cultural, a partnering producer developing projects in that Country. When she was there, Mel Mattos performed her most recent songs from her album Demodé. “The invitation came at a time when the city of Praia (Beach City) breathed music, and there were important events taking place: such as Atlantic Music Expo (AME) and the Krioll Jazz Festival. It was a very specific moment”, she reveals.
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During her stay in the Cape Verdean capital city, Mel Mattos performed in three different places, facing distinct audiences. “I played during the AME, at the Ildo Lobo Palace. After that, I played at Acqua, very relaxing surroundings. Finally, I had the opportunity to perform at a town square, inland on the island. It was a very simple place, but I could see another aspect to the reality of the Cape Verdean”, she remembers.
Regarding the Creole musicality and receptivity, the singer could not hesitate to speak about the “malemolência” (dance) of the Cape Verdeans, the receptivity to foreign novelties, rhythms, and musical compositions. She remembers euphorically how she was so enchanted by the word “Morabeza” (kindness – a Cape Verdean expression), a Cape Verdean Creole expression meaning receptivity. “I felt morabeza in their musicality,” she stressed.
She believes that a strong connection is because Cape Verde is in a strategic position related to Brazil – it is only 4 hours by plane. This, according to her makes them very receptive to Brazilian music, and very warm and familiar with it. “I introduced a samba project there, performed with local Cape Verdean musicians and they were super attentive. They did their best even though they didn’t know some of the songs”, she explains. She believes that the strong connection between the rhythms and instruments from both countries facilitated a great deal their musical exchange in the music she performed. “We put Brazilian sauce in catchupa,” tells the artist while laughing.
The artist returned and said, “I want to savor the taste even more.” There is no doubt for her that Cape Verde is on the list for her next destination for new professional exchanges. Cape Verdean singers, as Mayra Andrade, Ceuzany Pires, and Neuza de Pina awakened Mel’s attention. She says she keeps in touch with those artists. “Her trips are always great sources of inspiration. I met incredible singers, chatted, and nowadays we are connected”, she reveals. “The big secret is to be open and live that moment,” she concludes.
Mel Mattos was born in Fortaleza, and she graduated in style and fashion design at the Ceará Federal University and then she entered the world of music at a very young age, due to the influence from her family. She gave up her fashion profession to dedicate herself to music, and she already has ten years experience in her composing career and twenty years since she first débuted in dance bands. She released two albums of her compositions, “Demodê?!” (2016) and “O Retratista” (2010), included the participation of well-known Brazilian artists, as Dominguinhos, Waldonys, and Sidney Magal. On festival stages, nightclubs, and carnival groups, Mel performs the songs from her studio albums and her thematic projects, as “Mel Com Samba” (Samba With Mel), “Obrigado, Axé” (Thank you “Axé), and “Canções de Dominguinhos” (Dominguinhos Songs).
Catchupa is a typical Cape Verde dish. It is made from beans, boiled corn, and a variety of vegetables; the dish can be served with fish or other types of meats.