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Maria BethaniaI am deeply moved whenever I hear the voice of María Bethânia. She belongs to a homeland of legendary women who carry within them their country’s memory, embellished by a garland of art, of time and of dignity.

María Bethânia is a Brazilian legend. Throughout the 40 years of her professional career she has never held back from using her spellbinding, earthy and unique voice, as though her singing surges from the very roots of Brazil. Her songs have helped the collective imagination to flourish whilst drawing with them sentiments and passions deeply rooted in the very core of the national identity.

I remember the artiste in 1964, when at a very young age she had the great opportunity to interweave her songs with the political resistance movement that was growing at the time in the country after the military coup. Since then she has never been known to be discouraged artistically, to have broken her ethical pattern, nor to have renounced a Brazilian repertoire of high standard and transcendence.

The scenario of this Brazil, which she so loves, has been her fabled territory. On these magical boards that are her home, she consecrates the Brazilian spirit with refined fervour. She gives life to the creative voices of Fernando Pessoa, Clarice Lispector and Vinicius de Moraes, to the musical guidelines of Chico Buarque, Caetano Veloso and so many other maestros.

Who does not become emotional when listening to her? Whether making use of the Portuguese language or transfiguring each musical phrase, it is as if verb and music, finely harmonised, conform to the uniqueness of this outstanding artiste.

Therefore, one must listen to this universal Brazilian singer with reverence and emotion. Here is an outstanding singer of the human stage. A maestra, who, with the strength of her incorruptible art, explains a country and tells us who her people are. So, when María Bethânia entones her song, not only does she enrich the world, she also represents Brazil.

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Nélida Piñón
Writer - Prince of Asturias Award, 2006
Ex-President of the Brazilian Academy of Letters
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