I am a big fan of Leonard Cohen. Among his many amazing songs, Dance me to the end of love has a special place in my heart. It moves me to tears in a very tender, bittersweet way, as only a true work of art can do.

It is one of those examples of a song in which lyrics and melody combine so perfectly that they get lost in each other to the point where it’s impossible to hear the notes on the chorus without singing along. Its sweet and sad refrain echoes like a promise and a redemption: since even love comes to an end, may we be led to it with tenderness.

Brazilian musician Chico Buarque de Holanda also addressed the theme of the end of love, but his interpretation was a little different. In his song Futuros Amantes (Future Lovers) love does not end, it simply passes from lover to lover, dodging time and space.

The love from yesterday will be revived by the lovers of tomorrow in a continuous flow of love. What a wonderful theory, isn’t it? And brilliant, as we are used to seeing in the work of this great artist.

I particularly like this idea of love that continuously comes and goes, for it explains the fact that so many songs talk about this feeling. The truth is: they are talking about the same love. Sure each experience of love is very personal, and a million other factors will be responsible for turning every single story unique, but the core of love would be the same.

And how to get to that core? How to reach the source of love? The verses of Futuros Amantes give a hint:

Don’t worry, nothing is for now
Love will always be lovable
Future lovers, perhaps
They will love each other, without knowing
With the love that one day
I left to you

The source of love can only be reached by loving. Preferably with the right music in the background.

Be seeing you!

G.F.

Earth, Wind & Fire is a super groovy disco, soul, R&B band from the US formed in 1969. Their name evoques the four classical elements: Earth, Water, Fire and Air. They represent the attempt of ancient cultures to explain the nature and complexity of all matter.

Although this concept is no longer embraced by science, it is very useful for establishing relationships and explaining complex processes. For example, when we define photography as the art of writing with light. In the same way, I like to think that singing is the art of playing with air.

Before you say that the same definition could apply for all wind instruments as well, let me reply by reminding you that, in the case of singing, there is no instrument “between” the musician and the thing air. In other words, musicians play with air in pairs (musician and instrument), while singers face the same task having nothing but their own body.

As I hear my neighbor blowing her nose so loud that, well I can hear it from here, for the millionth time today, I was wondering how fragile this balance is. A mere cold or a sore throat and you are out of the singing game.If you cannot breathe well, you will not be able to sing well.

Personally, I prefer to stand up when I sing. The clearer the way, the easier the flow. And the flow is a crucial element to keep your voice sounding fresh, doesn´t matter if you are singing the the first or the last theme on the set. Again: if you do not breathe well, you will not sing well. Probably you will not speak well either.

I remembered my appointment last week. I was waiting for my treadmill exercise stress test to be done. Finally, they called my name and a few seconds later I heard that the workout top I was wearing was not suitable for the test, although the e-mail sent by the clinic clearly said “workout top” in the description of “what to wear during your test”. Crazy world.

A few minutes and a frank exchange of ideas later, there was I, wearing a bra and with a lot of tiny cables connected to my chest. Oh, sure, and the lovely detail of a face mask. Frankly, I thought the doctor would ask me to take my mask off, so I could proceed the test on a more, let´s say, accurate way, concerning my lungs and heart capacity. Never happened. I kept my mask on did my very best.

By the end of the procedure I asked about the mask and the answer was simply: “The patient may feel uncomfortable, but for test itself, the mask makes no difference.” I beg your pardon? Is it the best you guys could think of?

I was not asking too much. A generic: “we´ve adapted the parameters for the new protocol” would have done the trick, but trying to convince me, with a single sentence, that the mask does not interfere at all was simply to cheap.

As much of a mask enthusiast that I might be (and I am), I am also a singer, and I can certainly tell the difference of singing with or without a mask. I did not bother replying.

Remember the flow? Sometimes, you just have to go with it.

G.F.

p.s: last but not least, I just wanted to remember a very special person, my late aunt, who was born on this day. I talk more about her and the super power that she gave me here.

It is amazing how some dates are engraved in our affective memories. May 5th, for example. It is linked to a very special date for me, my grandmother’s birthday. I’ve already talked about my mother’s mother here and how her faith in education managed to change the destiny of her children. However, as time passes I feel more and more connected to my grandmother not because of what she did for the family, but because I understand what she stopped doing precisely because of the family.

In other words, I admire her for the woman she was.

It may seem obvious, but if you take a look at the social media bios and see how many people define themselves as “mother of…”., “father of…”, you will see it is not that obvious at all. Besides, as much as I fail to understand such personality definitions based on motherhood or fatherhood, these are at least voluntary definitions, I believe. The same cannot be said for what happened to women in relation to marriage and motherhood in the early twentieth century.

Before being a choice, raising a family was an obligation and while men usually managed to keep some outdoors habits, the limits imposed on the life of a married woman with children would be much stricter. My grandmother was a very intelligent woman and I would loved to have chatted with her about many things.

What were her dreams as a girl? Her first love? Her favourite dress? I’d like to have asked her a lot of questions, though I know she wouldn’t have had all the answers. I wish we could have had at least the chance to look for some answers together. I wish many things, but that’s okay, for I know that every time I succeed, she is with me on the way.

“And what about time?”, you may be asking yourself. Well, as Caetano Veloso would say: Time is as weak as water. Happy birthday, Granny!

Be seeing you!

G.F.

Que será, Será is a 1956 song by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans. It was part of the movie The Man Who Knew Too Much[, and a immediate success. Among its many versions, the one, by singer and actress Doris Day is considered a classic.

The song talks about fate and uncertainties of life and the answer to the question “how it will be”, repeated all through the song is only one:

Que sera, sera
Whatever will be, will be
The future’s not ours to see
Que sera, sera
What will be, will be

As I opened my fortune cookie, these verses popped up on my mind. It said: “It is never too late to start it all over again”. Fortune cookie hits the bull’s-eye again! It is amazing how they never fail! This is exactly how I feel now: starting it all over again.

Remember the set list odyssey? Well, my friend, it was only the beginning. Ready for the new challenge? Looking for the right musicians. And how many failed along the way… And before you think I am being picky, let me remind you that I am not even talking about musical skills, oh no! I am actually talking about a behavior that you be in compliance with what is expected in the twenty-first century. Sounds too vague?

In one example: I have already cancelled (yes, that´s right c-a-n-c-e-l-l-e-d) a gig because during rehearsals it became clear that the musician I was working with was tremendously patronizing, which is always something unpleasant to handle and far worse if you are the boss. Got the picture? Anyway, let us drop this part and jump straight to strictly music related matters.

The right musicians to work with are the ones, who are not only interested in the gig (and we all are, nothing wrong about that), but also in taking part of the project in a deeper way, buying the idea and improving it. Musicians that are able to respect my vision, and yet leave their own signature” are the right ones for me.

And talking about talented musicians who have a signature, I would like to end with a special note to my dear friend V. and say that the sensitive souls are the ones who suffer most, but they also bear the power of turning pain into beauty. I am sure you are going to find a way to turn those rainy days into bright, starry nights.

Be seeing you!

G. F.

p.s.: more songs about fortune telling?

Superstition, (Stevie Wonder.)

Bijuterias, (Aldir Blanc/João Bosco)

My mother always made sure we took good care of our teeth and as far I can remember, I was never scared of going to the dentist. On the contrary! As a matter of fact, dental offices are part of my affective memory.

So, when my dentist told me he would retire, I felt as if I had finished a book or just watched the final episode of a beloved tv series. Kind of lost, kind of sad.

I knew I would have to jump the stages of grief and go for acceptance rightaway. For over fifteen years he was part of my story. Now he wanted to enjoy his grandchildren and be part of their story, totally understandable. And yet, what a pity!

“When are you closing the office?”, I asked him.

“I don´t know yet. First I have to find someone to get my chair and all the furniture here”

“So… do you wanna sell it?”

“No, not at all. I want to donate it. I just need to find a trustful person or institution.”

“Well, maybe I can help you on that…”

I told him about my last Christmas shopping adventure and put him in contact with the orphanage people. The following day, they arranged all the details for moving a complete dentist office. Hurray!

When I heard the message from my now ex-dentist saying that everything went all right, I started crying of joy immeaditely. What a decent ending for the office of a decent man!

I am still feeling a bit sad about his retirement, but you know what? It is true what they say: doing good really makes you feel better.

Be seeing you!

G.F.

Do you have many shoes? I don´t. In fact, shoes are a top item on my gotta-buy-sometime-very-soon list. I recently got two pairs back from repair, and it was such a relief! I say it a very practical, non-shoe fetishist way. I just happen to have a very limited number of choices and any item matters.

Maybe you are one of those “sneakers will do everywhere” kind of person. There are so many of you out there! I admit it: maybe a tiny part of me envies you, but I could never be part of the gang (same applies for the “jeans will do in any occasion” fandom). And then there’s also this particular group, whose skills I truly admire: people that actually feel comfortable in high heels.

You may not believe they exist, and I do not blame you for that. I also used to be skeptical about their existence, until I was warmly welcomed into the house of one of them. Long story short: I had a few stop-over days in Paris on my way to India, and this very nice couple of friends of my good friend M. welcomed me into their lovely place, and by welcome I mean a great dinner and subway tickets. Best hosts ever!

One night we went out and then I had my vision. Walking around Paris cobblestone streets, I realized my hostess was one of those heavenly creatures that rather seem to float, so graceful are their steps. Effortless Parisian elegance, materialized right in front of me.

Anyway, I know my limits and I do not plan to achieve this level of expertise, but after such a long time (ages, it seems) out of stage, and maybe slightly influenced by this series I am streaming, I thought it was the perfect time to practice walking in heels again. Just a little bit. For fun.

My first enthusiasm faded a bit when confronted to the bitter reality of a low-budget season, apparent temperatures of 50º C (!) in Rio, and the Omicron variant, all very good reasons to stay home. Nevertheless, my determination to go back into heels (go figure) was stronger. After cleaning them carefully, I put on my favourite pair and used my apartment as a catwalk, so to speak.

The first steps were not easy, but after a while I was doing the laundry on heels with no problem. A great song started on the playlist, and voilà! I was dancing on my living room and really enjoying it. In heels!

My tiny condo may not have the same magic appeal of the streets in Paris, but I guess as long as I keep moving, it´s all right.

Be seeing you!

G. F.

It´s been one year since my first post, can you believe it? After the series of interviews that kept my busy and relatively sane in 2020, exactly an year ago, this blog was born to keep me busy and relatively sane in 2021.

During the last fifty-two weeks, the Red Flower Press provided thirty-eight short trips to different destinations, having music as a guideline. The inspiration for the name came from very favourite sitcom, as I told you here and, of course, from one of my constant elements on stage.

Together with the black dress, a red flower, used as a hair or gown ornament is my stage signature and it represents a lot more to me than a simple accessory.. It makes me feel part of the very special jazz-singer-with-a–flower-in-the-hair club, a very traditional institution that has my beloved Billie Holiday as one of its most famous patronesses.

Moreover, it represents the overlap of the three other music traditions that together form the foundations on which I build my home in music: samba, tango and the French chanson. As you can see, carrying (and earning) the flower really means a lot of responsibility to me.

In nature, flowers attract birds and insects that will take their gametes from one place to another, making it possible for plants to spread around, even though they are not mobile. I cannot think of a better analogy.

Thank you for being part of this journey.

Be seeing you!

G.F.

The biophysicist Norman Holter was responsible for a big step in the history of heart treatment. 1949 he  presented to the world for the first time a portable device for continuously monitoring the electrical activity of the heart for long periods (24 hours or more). The Holter monitor was a true game-changer for Cardiology. Holter even added a noble humanitarian note to the story, by donating the rights to his invention to medicine.

When my cardiologist asked me during a check up, how I felt about including a 24 hour blood pressure monitoring, I remembered all the nice stories about Mr. Holter and cheerfully agreed. Unfortunately, they did not help at all, when the technician adjusted the device that would inflate my left arm each 15 (!) minutes for the next 24 hours. In case this information does not sound bad enough for you, read the next paragraph.

The instructions were clear and yet a bit incomprehensible: 1. stay still after hearing the long beep (measurement starts) and wait until short beep ends to move it again; 2.fill up a paper form with a description of my activities during the day; 3. in case the monitor tiny screen shows “error”, change batteries immediately.; 4. do not leave the device in contact with water, and finally: 5. follow your regular activities, normally. Doubts? No doubts? See you tomorrow, thank you. Next!

The next 24 hours were as unpleasant, as you can imagine with the nice extra touch of very high temperatures, and required a lot of faith in science and a even bigger amount of willing suspension of disbelief (paper form? batteries? act normally?). The following morning, after getting rid of the monitor, I walked myself home and wondered what the result of the readings would show, but I will be very impressed if it is all normal. To anyone, at all.

I let my thoughts fly to that day in 1949 and came to the conclusion that Mr. Holter himself would be disappointed, if he could see how little your invention has advanced compared to others. Think of drones, smartphones and self-driven cars and you will know what I mean.

Anyway, what do we know, me and my foolish heart?

Be seeing you!

G.F.

There is always a lot of expectation around New Year´s Eve. Basically, two main groups dispute endlessly the right thing to be done on this particular night: the ones who prefer to sleep over it and start the New Year fresh and renewed, and the ones who believe you´ve got to have some sort of ritual to assure an auspicious year to come.

As I mentioned before, in Brazil a New Year´s classic ritual is to dress in white. It is one of my favourite traditions, but I have many other personal ones. My mental personal retrospective. As the first dawn of the year approaches, I let my mind fly back to the same period, a year ago. No doubt we moved a few steps forward.

Need an example? The single fact of having a vaccine developed in such a short time is already a huge development for humanity. It should be a sign of hope for humanity, but then again, there is all the mess going on everywhere. Future generations will have problems trying to understand how could we be so brilliant and so dumb at the same time.

Nevertheless, it is hard to pretend that there is nothing going on and that we should live our lives “old normal” style. With protocols changing all the time, it is very hard to plan anything at all, from a single performance to a tour. Artists, booking agents, venue owners, regulars: everyone is frustrated. And tired. Everyone is really tired.

I wish I had a flawless plan for the year starting today. Something that I could share with you, some sort of “5 steps to get it done in 2022” list, but I don´t. There is a lot of uncertainty going on, that´s for sure. Do you know what is also for sure? We will make mistakes. A lot of them. Wanna know why? Because life is like a concert.

As I say to my musicians before going on stage, it doesn´t matter how many times we have rehearsed and prepared ourselves for the show. There will always be some surprise in the middle of the way.

You don´t have to look for the unexpected (you don´t need to), but when it comes, don´t fight it. Embrace it, adjust the route and move on.

Enjoy your New Year.

Be seeing you!

G.F.

Corporations always win. The average individual, caught in the net of big companies, which will decide all aspects of their lives. From what you eat, to where you keep your money; from how you spend your leisure time to with whom you spend your pleasure time, there is always a corporation involved. Not even religious dates manage to escape the voracious radar of corporations and Christmas is no exception.

My story begins early in the month, on December 6th. On that day I bought online eighteen packages of Panettone to give as a present to family and friends. In Brazil, the Italian yeast-leavened bread, usually made with raisins, candied fruit peels, almonds, and a bit of brandy is a holiday traditional, and I was very happy for the good deal. With the delivery due to the fourteenth, what could go wrong? Well, quite a lot, as I would find out.

By the 10th it was clear to me that the package would not arrive on time. My account on the web store kept showing: “preparing your order” and the web chat was not a big help either. One day, I waited online for seven hours (I started in the 79th position on the line) just to be automatically disconnect, when the counter showed there were three people ahead of me. Pure evil? A total lack of organization? A mix of both?

I was not only very angry about not getting any kind of attention by the company, but also totally frustrated about the lack of my (already plaid) gifts. My sister came with a partial solution: a local super market had enough packages to replace my lost, by the same price. Great! The big corporations would not ruin my Holiday, although there was still the matter of the money to be solved.

On the 15th, since the delivered date had expired, I logged in again on my account on the web store and canceled the purchase. No need to tell you that, again, the company did not contact me. Little did I know, the plot twist was about to happen.

On the 20th the order arrived. Watching that huge box with all the packages laying on living room I felt confused. No sign from the company, no money back, double costs to me, double profits for them (if you consider the replacements bought at the supermarket). I simply did not know what to do, and hated the fact of being made “a hostage” by a big company.

I felt really angry and quite guilty for having such a feeling so close to Christmas. After all, no situation is so bad that it cannot be made worse by guilt. On the following day, I had a great idea, which turned the situation in my favor. A second plot twist: instead of trying to reach the company for a refund, I would simply donate the Panettones to the orphanage I usually help. Of course!

This way, it does not matter anymore, if the company will ever pay me back or, at least, answer one of the numerous e-mails I´ve sent. The packages had already paid themselves, so to speak. This time, the big corporation would not win, for a change.

The next day, the box with the Panettone packages was gone and there was a big empty space in my living room, but my heart was overflowing with pure joy. Since then, I feel ready for a Happy New Year.

Be seeing you!

G.F.