BRAZIL TOUR DIARY & PHOTO ALBUM
Saturday April 14, 2001
8 pm It feels like my Brazil Tour starts in San Francisco at the Palace of Fine Arts show with Djavan.
I have a great time opening this show with my friend Jean Paul Labrosse, who joins me on percussion.
A great introduction to the warmth of Brazilian audiences.
11 am--Dinize, Paul and I fly into São Paulo, one of the largest cities in the world with more than 20 million inhabitants. It's been an 18 hour trip, but we're all thrilled to finally be in Brazil so we're feeling pretty good. São Paulo is about 1 hour driving time from the Atlantic Ocean and 1 hour flying time south of Rio de Janeiro. Rosilene Niza, the owner of Minhagrife, a clothing design company and factory in São Paulo with a new store in San Francisco called Moda Brazil, has sent a driver to pick us up at the Airport. Rosilene has asked us to come by her store to choose some stage clothes when we've settled in an have a few hours free. I can't wait!
The traffic in São Paulo is unbelievable-we sit in traffic in a fog of exhaust and pollution for what seems like hours. Brazilians speak Portguese, and at first, even though I have been studying language tapes for weeks, the language sounds so strange to me. I'm extremely thankful that Dinize, a native from NorthEast Brazil, is with us to help navigate, negotiate, and translate! I'm wondering if I will ever learn to communicate in this new language. (Eventually, we find that rudimentary understanding comes due to our total immersion into all things Brazil.)
As soon as we get to the hotel, Dinize gets on the phone with show promoters, TV producers, venues, and percussionists. While Dinize schedules meetings, Paul and I sink into blissful sleep for a few hours. It's wonderful to have such an energetic, knowledgeable, and ambitious manager-because it means that I can turn off for a few hours, knowing that everything is well taken care of.
5 pm-We walk up the street to get a bite to eat. When we get back to the hotel an hour later, there are several urgent phone messages for us. Patricia, our São Paulo concert promoter, has just received word that I am booked to perform on É Show (translation: The Show) with Adriane Galisteu and we need to be at the studio by 7pm!
Aderlaine, part of our São Paulo team, is already at the hotel waiting for us and we need to leave right away! Quickly I choose an outfit, put some makeup on, and Paul changes my guitar strings. We are whisked into the car to drive to the TV station. Aderlaine has a difficult time finding the studio and some panic ensues, as we are already quite late. We spend most of the next hour in her car driving all over the city, and are finally guided in to the studio parking lot by Patricia on the other end of Aderlaine's cell phone.
We arrive at the TV station with 10 minutes to spare! The studio production assistant rushes Dinize & myself from the parking lot into the makeup room. We get made up very quickly-in about 5 minutes-and then we are taken to my dressing room so that I can change clothes. Approximately 1 minute later there's a knock on the dressing room door and we're rushed down the hall onto the set. Perfect timing! Taping starts in about 3 minutes. That's when we get out the news…..I will be lip synching, not performing live as we had expected.
So we make a split second decision and instead of performing a song from bare, Dinize gives Adriane's DJ a copy of my newest song, Superstar.
SUPERSTAR is now up for you to listen to on my MP3 page at www.mp3.com/nyree!
8 pm--With about 1 minute left, the production assistant hands me a chordless mic and tells me to walk down the steps to my left when the music starts. Adriane walks out on stage to cheers from her studio audience and says a bunch of nice things. The first drum beats of Superstar start and out I come! I dance and lip-synch to 4 cameras and the support of the studio audience movin' to the groove. Good thing I spent so much of my childhood pretending to be Whitney Houston, because being sent out onto TV with no guitar, piano, or microphone stand to hold onto is a pretty big change from the usual for me. It is just me, a wireless mic, a big TV dance floor and about 100 teenage girls dancing, clapping, and swaying to the beat.
Let me tell you, this is a totally different performance environment from anything I have ever done before on a stage. Without my guitar or piano to stand behind, it is a totally different game. Later, being interviewed before my show in Natal, a reporter tells me that watching my performance on É Show made him think my musical style is very similar to Mariah Carey! Funny what some gold pants and a wireless mic will do.
The song ends and Adriane walks over to where I'm standing to say Hi. Since she knows just a little English, she asks Dinize to join us on stage to translate. Adriane asks me if I am enjoying Brazil. (Well of course! I'm thinking, wow I just landed in your country and already I'm being treated like a superstar…This is cool, can I stay?) I say something like, "Yes! I've only been here a day and I love it!" Dinize translates and the crowd goes wild! Then Adriane asks where I will be playing in Brazil, Dinize answers, and we kiss goodbye on the cheek. Her DJ holds up the bare CD cover to the cameras for a few moments and we leave the stage.
Here's what we find out from the production assistant at the TV studio after we finish taping Superstar--Adriane Galisteu is a big, huge star in Brazil. Her television show is watched by nearly 1,000,000 people every Friday night at 10 pm. In fact, she has just been voted the top talk show host in Brazil. Needless to say, we are totally astonished and completely psyched!
Two things to note here: 1. Thank god we did the video shoot in January at the Sebastiani in Sonoma, because it gave me some experience lip synching and being in front of cameras. Otherwise, I think I would have been pretty freaked out by the whole thing. 2. Six weeks ago I bought a digital home recording studio and a drum machine. Nothing fancy, just a little machine to record some demos on before heading into the big studio to "do it right." Or so I thought… Of course my somewhat perfectionist tendencies took over and instead of doing very simple, quick mixes of my demos in my office at home, I got sucked into the engineering of the songs and spent many days working on getting the mixes just right-even re-recording various tracks and vocals that didn't feel 'good enough.' Thank god, because an enormous number of people got to hear the "Nyree-does-it-all" recording of my new song Superstar.
(We are getting a copy of my TV show appearance and as soon as I can find someone to convert it to web format, I'll put it up here. Does anyone have any leads?)
10 pm--After the show we are taken to the Walter Mancini restaurant, my Thursday night show sponsores. They
seat us at a special table and the owner and manager come out to greet us and take pictures with us. Of course,
I am totally enjoying this star treatment! (Bet you couldn't tell...) After wine and a delicious dinner, the manager asks if I could please sit down at their grand piano and sing for him. I play another new song, Still the Girl I Am. Before we leave all of the waiters ask for my autograph and we take more pictures and give more kisses on the cheek.
Still The Girl I Am is now up for you to listen to on my MP3 page
2am--Back at the hotel, we finally go to sleep.
2pm-Rosilene Niza, the owner and designer of clothes at Minhagrife, invites us to visit her clothing factory and showroom in the garment district. These 10 square blocks are every woman's dream (including me!). Window after window of the coolest clothes you can imagine.
Once inside the factory, I've entered heaven. Rosilene and several of her assistants start laying out outfits in every color and style imaginable for me to try on. Rosilene tells Dinize that as she want to be my Brazilian clothing sponsor, all of the clothes are going to be on the house. Wow! (I did mention heaven, didn't I?)
We head upstairs to the seamstress who custom fits everything to my body. She adds sequins and stars, takes in the waist, takes out the belt loops, shortens the shirt, etc., etc. When the head seamstress comes into the room she's carrying an armload of jeans and pictures of "designer" jeans with rips, sequins, flowers, safety pins, embroidery, etc. We do a lot of pointing ("I like this. Not this. Yes this.") and she starts working on creating the coolest stage pants this side of the equator. Four hours later, exhausted, thirsty, and hungry, we take a taxi back to our hotel, have dinner, and sleep!
6:30am--Laercio da Costa, my percussionist for the Donna Club show tonight, picks us up at the hotel and takes us to the studio that he has reserved for us to practice. The studio is very large, well equipped, and air-conditioned (thank god!). The owner has done a huge favor for me by postponing a previously scheduled session with another band so that we can practice. I love Brazilians! They always go out of their way to make you feel good.
Dinize has been told that Laercio is considered to be one of the very best percussionists in Brazil. Let me tell you, they aren't kidding. After we've only practiced for 15 minutes, it is as if we have been playing together for years. His touch and feel for songs that he has never heard is absolutely astounding. Joining us is Marcos, another wonderful drummer that Laercio has asked to play with us. Laercio plays mostly hand drums-the djembe, dumbec, congas, a wooden drum that he sat on to play. Marcos adds drum kit--bass drum, cymbals, snare, etc.
The four hours that we spend together are magical! Their playing meshes beautifully with my songs. As a huge bonus, the owner of the venue offers to record our performance for free. We run through each of the 15 songs two or three times and then record the fourth take. By noon we are listening to the playback of the recording and it's awesome! We all dance and sing in the studio and laugh and take pictures. Working with these fine musicians is such a gift. Already, Brazil is knocking my socks off!
6pm-We head to the venue for soundcheck. The Donna Club is a really nice venue. Adriane Galisteu opened it a couple of of years ago and already it's one of the top clubs in São Paulo. It has a similar vibe and layout to Bimbos in San Francisco. Soundcheck goes well and we head back to hotel to rest.
11:30pm-We are picked up for the show and we arrive at midnight. A film crew is on scene to film me walking into the club. Backstage in my dressing room the manager wants me to record some "Hello Donna Club! I'm so thrilled to be here!" greetings with the film crew. Finally they all leave and I change into my new "rock star" jeans and sequined tank top.
1 am-We take the stage. It's a great show. The venue is crowded with hundreds of Brazilians dancing and singing. We rock out! With the great percussion it's impossible to stay still. After a very high energy show I head back to my dressing room to sign autographs on CDs and posters and to meet some new fans. I'm amazed at how well everyone speaks English. We're chatting just like I never left home!
Dinize has been talking with a representative from a big Brazilian record label who came to the show and really liked it. Keep your fingers crossed for more good news from this front.
3 am-Back to the hotel to sleep.
9 am-We get up early to catch a flight to Rio. A flight time mix-up means that we have to run through the terminal to catch our flight. At the hotel in Rio, Tito-our concert promoter at Mistura Fina (translation: Fine Mixture)-has left us a "Welcome to Rio!" note.
Noon-We get to do a little sightseeing today. We take the trolley up Sugerloaf Mountain from Red Beach and are rewarded with a view of all of Rio and the Christ at the top of the facing mountain. Rio is a very beautiful city although everyone who lives there keeps telling us how dangerous it is. (Here's an interesting fact to chew on-after Midnight it's OK to run red lights. Why? Because if you had to stop at them, you may be pulled out of your car and shot.) But here's the thing-all scary stories aside, we never felt unsafe for one minute in Rio. So who knows...
4 pm --We drop into a local shopping mall near our hotel in Copacabana to take quick look around and the neatest thing happens-salesgirls in a couple different stores approach Dinize and ask if I'm the woman who was on the Adriane Galisteu show the night before. And they tell her how much they liked my performance and wish me good luck for the future. Wow! I'm being "recognized"! We all feel pretty famous for a while after that.
5 pm--Valeska picks us up to take us to Niteroi, a city just across the bay from Rio, to play a mini-show at her sister's restaurant, The VITRAL Bistro. (i.e. Rio=San Francisco, Niteroi=Sausalito) This is a really fun evening-the audience is very responsive to my music, everyone buys lots of CDs and we celebrate Valeska's birthday until 4am with great food, great company, and great music! Because this is such a small, intimate show, I ask Dinize to translate some of my between-song stories, which people seem to really like.
Side Note: You may be wondering what my performances were like in a country where everyone speaks Portuguese, since we all know I like to talk quite a bit between songs. I was wondering too. What kind of show was I going to be able to give in foreign countries? How would the people in the audience know what my songs were about? What's amazing is that somehow, things translate, even when we're not speaking the same language. Maybe my meaning comes across on my face, or through my gestures, or enough people speak English well enough to translate what I'm saying/singing to their friends, but everyone claps at the right time and seem truly moved by the songs. So, I pretty much gave the show that I would have given in the US.
Side Note 2: I've picked up about 10 words of Portuguese and they seem to be getting me by pretty well. Here's a list of my entire Portuguese vocabulary:
In fact, since we can't speak each other's languages, we are all extra nice to each other. Everything is communicated with a smile or a laugh and a gesture.
My show at Mistura Fina is tonight. We have heard a lot of great things about this venue all week. Everyone
says it is the best venue in Rio to really listen to good music. We arrive for sound check and the rumours
are right on. Mistura Fina seats about 250 people at small café tables. The stage has a 7 foot grand piano, lights, and the room is equipped with a killer sound system. I could have played the piano for days! Perfect tone and amazing acoustics in the room. Tito, the talent buyer/manager for Mistura Fina, is one of the nicest people I've ever met! He seems very pleased to meet me and evidently has watched my video many time as it plays downstairs in the bar. I feel loved and appreciated. It's a good day to be an American musician in Rio! After soundcheck we head back to hotel to chill out for a few hours.
9 pm--We arrive back at the venue and head backstage. Sueldo Soares opens the show. He is an old friend of Dinize's and a wonderful artist in the vein of Djavan. Great songs and a beautiful voice.
11 pm--I'm afraid that I just can't describe to you how amazing this show was! Dinize had arranged for another percussionist to play with me in Rio, but her flight to Rio was so delayed that she didn't make it to Rio until 10 pm that evening. With no time to practice, etc., I decided to play the show solo. Quite frankly, no one was sure how Brazilian audiences would react to a solo show with no percussion.
Alternating between the piano and the guitar, I feel like I give my best possible show. The audience is so attentive and quiet that I am able to use silence as another instrument-playing with it, stretching it out, breathing into it. Such a wonderful show, I can still think back on it and feel its warmth. After the show, I sign CDs, have a wonderful time talking with various audience members, and just basically bask in the glow from the whole experience.
Side note: An A&R rep from a very big international label is at the show and reports were that she thought it was "stunning". Cross a couple more fingers, ok? And Tito has asked us back in the fall for a week-long run at his venue. Yes, please!
1 pm--The adventures continue! We're on a plane to Northeast Brazil, a land of sand dunes, perfect warm beaches, and very friendly, very relaxed natives. Dinize's father, brother, sister and a whole bunch of her friends pick us up at the airport. We sleep some then have a birthday party for Dinize. Great food and company.
Tuesday is a day off. We wake up a 6 am to beat the heat (It's nearly 90 degrees in Natal.), play in the ocean, and eat great local food.
11 am--Patricia and Rainel, two of the three concert promoters in Natal, pick us for a press conference upstairs at a brand new café/bookstore downtown. There are 3 newspapers and 1 TV channel there to interview me. I feel like a total rock star! (I did mention how much fun I was having, didn't I?) All of the reporters and journalists are really nice and very interested in my music, my tour, and even the book that I wrote about the music business. Dinize does a fabulous job of translating their questions and my answers-she makes it as easy for us to communicate as it would be if we were both speaking the same language. After the interviews, the newspaper photographers take pictures of me with Juliano, my percussion for the Natal show.
Patricia, Rainel, and Junior are doing an amazing job of promoting me in Natal-a city of about 1,000,000 people. A 60 second TV advertisement has been playing every two hours on the top TV station in Natal. It's really a cool ad; It opens with an announcer saying, in his best deep announcer voice-"Friday night, come to the Black Out to see an exploding singer from America-Nyree!!!" and then it cuts to me live on stage at the piano and guitar singing. The top radio station has my songs in heavy rotation and my 7 minute Electronic Press Kit is playing before all of the movies at the main theatre in town.
They've also printed a killer flyer up for the show.
6:30 pm--At a local bar, we ask the owner if we can turn the TV to the news channel. We watch a 5 minute interview with me that we filmed earlier in the day. We're having a lot of fun watching ourselves on TV!
9 pm--We head off to a local studio to practice songs with Juliano. He is amazing! He can play anything-hand drums, drum kit, everything! I am feeling hugely spoiled by the talent that I'm getting to work with in Brazil. Juliano has never heard my songs before, yet instinctively he know exactly what rhythms and patterns to play. We run through each song once and they all sound fabulous. We take more pictures, more kisses on the cheek and off to bed.
The late nights have started to take their toll and I wake up with the beginnings of a cold today. I take all sorts of local cold-remedies and just chill out by Dinize's father's pool.
That afternoon I started to write a new song, which I finished writing when we got back to the US.
The chorus of the song is:
WHAT I CAN is now up for you to listen to on my MP3 page at www.mp3.com/nyree!
7 am--We wake up to find that my picture is all over the newspapers! There is a full page story on me on the cover of the two biggest papers entertainment sections. From now on, everywhere we go in town, people say "hi" and ask about the show. Plus, I have made a miraculous recovery from my cold. It must have been the syrupy "potion" that everyone told me to drink yesterday. It works, but it sure tastes bad!
A VOICE THAT COMES FROM THE SOUL
Music for reflection and relaxation does not have to be written only by New Age musicians, and it does not have to be boring either. With a sound that melds pop music with a more romantic, sensual style, the North American singer, Nyree, is in Natal to play a concert tonight at the Black Out. Playing with her is the local percussionist Juliano Azevedo.
Currently living in a town where she sees the sunsets of Napa Valley, and where Francis Ford Coppola has his winery, Nyree is the independent musical pearl of North America. The difference between her style and all other feminine voices of the new generation in the US is that Nyree is electrifying and that passion translates through everything in her work. That is how I felt after listening to her "bare" CD, released last year by Belle Records.
On the cover of this CD Nyree poses naked, holding only a bunch of wildflowers in front of her. The way she simply reveals herself to the listener on the cover is a representation of the way she presents and performs the songs on her CD-stripped down and bare. In her liner notes she says, "Even before I started to create this album, I had a strong vision for songs that would truly capture and bring to life my on-stage passion and energy…that would paint a portrait of a woman…introspective and spiritual, love gained and lost, yet always with strength…that would allow the listener to be wrapped up in the blankets of a mood…right away I made conscious decision to write and produce my songs bare…to capture the one woman, one instrument, one voice intimacy that is so much a part of the music that really captures my soul…with much support it became just that and is perhaps at its best when the lights are down low and you're listening with your heart…please enjoy it."
Nyree deserves appreciation for many areas of her work. Nyree is not only a singer, but also a writer. She was a finalist in Oprah's Music search and has played with Santana, CSN, and even the Brazilian Djavan. Talking to her in Natal with many other reporters and newspapers waiting, Nyree opened her heart.
Q: When did you start to sing?
Q: How do you define your musical style?
Q: Today many respected names in rock have come back together to play reunion tours. What do you think about it?
Q: Do you like to tour?
Q: What do you prefer-to play with a band or solo?
Q: Do all of your songs have the same style of words and music as the songs on your "bare" CD?
Translation of full page story in the TRIBUNA DO NORTE, Natal newspaper. Pictured are Nyree and Juliano Azevedo on percussion.
AN EVENING OF FOLK MUSIC
Nyree, 28, is currently touring Brazil with her mixture of rock music, pop music, folk music and Brazilian percussion. Her concert is tonight in Natal at the Blackout.
Historically, in American music, female artists have had a strong presence-from the beginning of the blues up to the new generation. Nyree is a significant artist in this new generation-as a pianist, guitarist, and composer. Nyree is already very interested in all of the different rhythms and styles of music that Brazil has to offer. In fact, she is hoping to record and release a CD in Brazil by the end of this year. Says Nyree, "My style is mixture of approaches--one side is pop, rock, and at times aggressive. The other side is very melodic and soothing."
Her professional career started in 1996 with the release of the "HeatChemistryGravity." Critics say that her voice has a dynamic vocal scale, sometimes reminding them of Tori Amos and Joni Mitchell, who she says are big influences for her. "For me, Mitchell was one of the first artists I heard that made purely confessional, truly passionate music." Nyree likes to play with intensity, particularly at the guitar, but she also really enjoys playing more mellow songs at the piano. Nyree has opened for many famous Brazilian musicians including Bebel Gilberto and Djavan.
Second article on page: NYREE HAS WRITTEN A BOOK FOR INDEPENDENT MUSICIANS
Nyree isn't just working on her own music career, she wants to help other musicians too. So, she wrote "Booking, Promoting & Marketing Your Music" to show young, independent musicians how they can survive and thrive away from big labels.
Asking Nyree about why she chose to come to Brazil, she answers, "Brazilians are very passionate people and I feel that they receive my work with open arms." On April 19th, Nyree recorded a CD in São Paulo with Laercio da Costa on percussion. In September she will be recording a CD with even more instrumentation. Says Nyree, "I would really like to release a CD here by the end of the year. This project is part of a dream that we have to come back for a bigger tour in 2002."
Even though she was not brought up listening to Bossa Nova, Nyree says how much she is enjoying Brazilian music. She is amazed and delighted at how well her songs are meshing with the rhythmic styles of Brazilian percussionists. Tonight she will be playing piano and guitar at the Black Out and Juliano Azevedo will be joining her on percussion.
Translation of article in FIM DE SEMANA, Natal entertainment newspaper.
ROCK, FOLK, AND POP MUSIC SUNG BY NYREE
Born in New York and currently living in California, the singer Nyree will be playing tonight at the Black Out with Juliano Azevedo on percussion. With a mix of styles, plus a bit of Brazilian percussion, Nyree is hoping to release her 1st Brazilian CD at the end of the year. Only 28 years old, Nyree has already written a book to help independent musicians make money without big labels. She will be playing guitar and piano, moving between introspective pop and North American rock music.
Translation of front page photo and caption from the DIARIO DE NATAL newspaper.
A VOICE FROM THE HEART
A little rock and a little jazz. That's how we could describe the beautiful music of the North American singer Nyree who will be doing a concert tonight at the Black Out.
5:30pm--We head to the Black Out for sound check. It is a very cool venue. Again, everyone in town has been saying that it is the best venue in Natal. It even has palm trees growing out of the center of the roof. Sound check goes smoothly and we head back to the hotel to rest for a few hours.
11:30pm--We head back to the venue and arrive a Midnight, just in time to catch the set by the opening act, who plays only English language cover songs. It is winter in the tropics, and it has started to rain pretty hard by this time. By the time people make it into the door of the venue they are soaked, but no one seems to mind at all. I love Brazilians!
Side note: The timing of entertainment in Brazil is quite different from the US. If a show "starts at 10 pm", that actually means that things get going and people start arriving at midnight or 1 am . Dinize had warned us about this in advance, so it was really no big deal. We were all amazed that so many people routinely stay up until 4 am, 6 days out of 7, and can function the next day. They must have super human powers on the other side of the equator!
1:30 am--I 'm introduced and Juliano and I take the stage. After dealing with a few minor technical difficulties in the first few songs, we totally rock out! The audience is absolutely amazing! Although the venue is standing-only, people pack the dance floor and really listen and applaud and whistle after every song. Between songs people in the audience are yelling out "Wonderful" and "Valeo" (which roughly translates to "This is awesome!"). I'm in love with them all.
Juliano and I are soaking wet on stage-with the lights and the dampness outside, we're totally dripping by the third song-and it just seems to intensify the experience. We play our hearts out!
3 am--2 camera men were taping the entire show-sometimes joining us on stage to get the "handy-cam rock shots" and after the show the host of the cable channel interviewed me. All week after the show, they play the 2 hour tape of the show and the interview 3 times a day! What fun!
I now have a fan club in Natal, too! Amanda Camara is President of the NYREE FAN CLUB in Brazil, and you can reach her at 084-2023740 to join!
The radio station in Natal has continued to play my new songs in very heavy rotation, from the CD that Dinize gave them before we left. And the promoters have asked us back to play a show in the beautiful theatre in Natal in September!