Formed four years ago beneath California redwoods, at a North American celebration of Brazilian music, Seattle’s En Canto was set in motion by the relentless, night and day tumult of sixty-seven zabumba.
The ever-present drums, along with almost every other instrument and stage at the gathering, were dominated by men; the women in attendance were expected to sing, cheer, or act demure. As the male maestros learned then, and as audiences and fellow performers in Rio, Alexandre Riberio, and Marcelo Caldi have learned since, the women of En Canto don't do demure.
A multi-ethnic, female-led seven-piece, En Canto’s world pop music—a combination forró, samba, and choro-inspired originals and reimagined covers of classic Brazilian hits—commands attention and inspires movement. “We love this music because of its compositional brilliance, its original grooves, and its revolutionary nature ... its roots in post-colonialism, in cultural battles for class and racial equality,” Accordionist Jamie Maschler, explains. "Why wouldn’t it also inspire gender-equality?"
Playing primarily in North American venues, En Canto currently channels its fierce independence into challenging stereotypes while also helping audiences expand their comfort zones. “We make people dance,” as drummer Adam Kozie puts it “We routinely open our concerts to a room full of shy, awkward faces, and we close them to a sweat-drenched melee of bodies and smiles. We experience real joy when we play these songs, and people feel that, and they respond in kind, regardless of whether they understand the words or know the ‘right’ dance moves. It was the same for each us at one point when we first heard Luis Gonzaga or Gilberto Gil—we were provoked and then captured by the music, and we feel honored to be able to offer our own interpretations of it.”
Having recently spent a re-inspirational month in Brazil, En Canto has just recorded its first full-length album, Solto por Jeri. The Portuguese title translates to, Released in Jeri, a nickname for Jericoacoara, Ceara, an old fishing village set along the sand dunes of the Atlantic coast. Spending their time immersed in the culture that created and still adores Forró (the most popular genre of music and dance in northeastern Brazil), En Canto’s nights inevitably turned into impromptu jams, which then became writing sessions.
The result is a record steeped in exploration, mystique, sensuality, the integration of masculine and feminine potency, and the liberated spirit of sixty-seven drums beating defiant and undaunted.