Marília Mendonça's Live Album Is A Beacon For Women In Brazil
Last August, in the central Brazilian city of Goiânia, Marília Mendonça took the stage at a surprise concert. She repeated the surprise show in 10 other cities in the country. Brazilian crowds are known for their passion, but Mendonça's fans sang along with special excitement because the shows were announced on social media just hours in advance — a fitting move for Mendonça's brand and career, both of which have flourished through her social media strategy. Not only is she's the third most viewed female Latin artist in YouTube history, behind only Jennifer Lopez and Shakira, five of this album's videos are currently on Brazil's YouTube Top 40.
These 10 shows were recorded for Mendonça's latest album, a live album, called Todos Os Cantos or All The Corners.
Mendonça is known as Brazilian music's "Queen of Suffering." It's a reputation the singer lives up to in one of her current hits, " Bem Pior Que Eu." where the song's narrator is the other woman in an affair who's tired of being second choice.
Mendonça grew up in Goiânia, the heartland a kind of Brazilian country music called sertanejo. Like American country, sertanejo has found mainstream success and can be nearly indistinguishable from pop. For Mendonça, an accordion is sometimes incorporated to bring in much of the rural character into her songs. One example of that being "Passa Mal," which was recorded in Recife, Brazil. "In my life, your heart served as a step," she sings in her rich voice. "Seeing you suffer is not good, it's sensational."
Some of Brazil's cosmopolitan crowd scorns Mendonça's country power ballads as, "brega," or corny music. Sentimental or not, her songs offer a woman's perspective that hasn't been heard much in sertanejo's machismo culture, and it's made Mendonça the leading voice of a new subgenre called "feminejo"-- music by and for women.
Mendonça's the first to say her brand of feminism is more of an attitude than a political position. Still, millions of fans find empowerment in her song lyrics that reject bad relationships or refuse to compete with women on the other side of the cheating equation. Fans simply see their own flawed lives represented in her songs, like the relatable scenario in "Bebi Ligue" of drinking, calling, hooking up and regretting.
Mendonça's been an advocate for imperfection in other ways, like resisting beauty standards with her full-bodied stature. That's changing a bit now after a few years into her career, with some weight loss and plastic surgery. But like everything else in her life, she's sharing details of this transformation on social media, taking fans along for the ride. Mendonça never apologizes for expressing the truth of her experience as a young woman, and that transparency has helped make her one of the most popular artists in Brazil today.
Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.