30 years of Independence: Paulinho Pedra Azul

One of the most famous musicians from the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, Paulinho Pedra Azul  is now celebrating  30 years as an independent artist.  With no back up from big record companies, Paulinho is one of those musicians blessed with the joy of getting to know all stages of producing his work. Amongst his fans, Paulinho is respected by a good number of mainstream artists, who never hesitate from referring to him.

When I first met Paulinho Pedra azul, I was a third year Journalism student and a trainee reporter at Radio Alvorada in Brazil. In 1991, together with Mauricio Tizumba, he was the big star of our Fresher’s week.  My colleague Adriana Braga and me were in charge of the Interview Panel. Adriana, who is one of the best writers I have known, had a highly artistic awareness and concentrated on questions related to the meaning of his lyrics. Meanwhile, I was trying to be cool and irreverent. As a show gimmick, in front of a packed auditorium, I took out a piece of paper folded in many hundreds of times out of my back pocket. Trying to make a suspense, I opened  it up slowly and stretched the tatty A4 sheet in the air. That piece of paper, which I had just grabbed from the recycled bin before leaving work,  contained  scribbled  questions I had done earlier in one side. The other side of the paper, which I had not even looked at, were editing notes for newsflash recordings I had done the day before.

Paulinho, who was sitting next to me, took the paper out from my hands while I was still reading the first question. He then turned it to the another side and read aloud all the unrelated scribbles.  It was a jovial and spontaneous attitude that saved my cheesy gimmick.  Paulinho carried on making jokes  about the Radio Station which I was working for. With his witty way, he complained that commercial radio stations only played his songs when he was there for live interviews. Without discussing the matter further,  I took the sheet of paper from him, made into a ball, threw it to the back of the stage and said: “All right then, let’s improvise!”.

I can’t remember any of the questions we made to Paulinho, but I remember that the reaction of the different groups in the crowd were typical of the careers they had chosen. The Marketing crowd, keen to the anarchic spirit, made sense out of a non nonsensical act and laughed with us. My colleagues from the Journalism course had a mixed reaction: some were critical and  rational, some already knew what to expect, some loved and engaged with the informality and some of them laughed at us. Meanwhile, the students from Public Relations, more attached to rigid protocols and etiquette, were frowning at me from the front row. I knew that,  later on that evening,  I would get a long lecture from one of them on  how to make sure the event was really boring.  And I got the lecture  together with instructions on how to enrol to some stand up comedy course. But, even if I had tried, it would have been  impossible to run a boring event with Paulinho Pedra Azul. With  his laid back attitude and honesty,  he transpired a natural charisma that transfixed the audience. It is with his openness and sincerity that he reaches out to his public.

For the celebratory album of his 30 years as a musician, Paulinho has now signed a contract with the label “Som Livre”. Yet, from the 22 albums he has produced, 20 of them are completely independent. For this feature, I have chosen his most famous song, “Jardim da Fantasia” (Fantasy Garden ), which is also known as “Bem-te-vi”, the name of a native species of bird famous for its strongly melodic singing.

Paulinho’s work is  marked by a common theme: human relationships. His songs talk about family, close friends and his perceptions of the world.  He also sings about hope, love, longing, dreams and achievements. It is all done in a down to earth and modest way that communicates directly to his listeners.

Paulinho Pedra Azul Official Sites




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