Virgínia Rodrigues Nós (Hannibal)
Reviewed by Harvey Pekar, Fri., June 2, 2000
Nós (Hannibal)Several years ago theatre director Marcio Meireles discovered former manicurist and domestic Virginia Rodrigues, a former church singer in her native Salvador de Bahia, Brazil, and turned Caetano Veloso onto her. Veloso was likewise knocked out by her singing, and set up a record date that resulted in the highly acclaimed Sol Negro. Now her latest, Nos, cements her place among the world's great contraltos, regardless of genre. Her timbre is exceptionally broad and rich -- she has a fine range -- and her time and pitch are right on the money. Not identifying with any particular style of Brazilian music; she instead makes every song her own. Turning her attention here to songs associated with Bahia's Carnival, she brings life to the songs of an area where many practice African-derived religions or mix them with Catholicism. Among others, "Cantu Para Exu" is a traditional chant that spotlights her African background. Rodrigues soars majestically and effortlessly over medium and slow tempos, and performs infectious agility and majesty on livelier tunes. If anything, she's too calm; she could maybe sing more dramatically. Veloso makes a nice guest appearance on "Happy Manner," and the charts by Eduardo Souto Neto are skillfully and sensitively crafted. Looming above it all is Rodrigues, her voice like a force of nature.