During the incredibly strange year of 2020, many people found in a hobby a most-needed moment of relief and relaxation. Homemade bread, painting, gardening, each one sought refuge in the comfort zone provided by any activity that gave the feeling of having some practical use. I chose a course on time planning, more specifically an online course on how to put together the perfect weekly schedule.

The nice young lady who presented the pre-recorded lessons made the tedious process of putting together a weekly schedule of appointments seem like a delightful experience. This is often the problem with online courses: they make everything look easy and there is no point in answering a loud “No!” when, at the end of the lesson, the instructor asks: “everything alright?”, because they will not listen.

If it worked? Yes and no. I managed to get to the fifth version, if I’m not mistaken (the idea was that each week everyone would check what had worked or not in the planning and what could be improved for the following week), but I could not stick to my planning.

Do not blame the planning. It was good one. It even left somne room for the unforeseen. In fact, there are no culprits, just life itself. There are times in our lives so crazy, that not even the best of weekly plans will be able to organize.

The end of the year is usually one of those times. By the way, a good indication that the year is coming to an end is that the stress level goes through the roof and if you do no’t want to join the year-end stress crowd, perhaps the best thing to do is to admit that your schedule will suffer repeated upheavals, including strokes of luck.

Last week, for example, I managed to get an appointment for a very busy doctor simply because I called after patients who canceled. A true stroke of luck that not even the most perfectly conceived agenda could have foreseen, but which nevertheless changes the planning of the day. But what if the surprise is not such a pleasant one?

Accepting that it will not always be possible to stick with the plan and realizing that, sometimes, it will not be possible to recalculate the route, and that you may end up losing control and even hit head-on with what you wanted, can be an important tool for maintaining your mental health, strange at it seems. And staying mentally healthy is the best gift you can give yourself, this or any other time of the year.

Be seeing you!

G.F.

The Gavião (Hawk) people is one of the Brazilian indigenous groups. They live in the Northeast of the country, in the central region of the State of Maranhão and they managed to preserve a significant part of their ancient rituals. In a very interesting example of their ability to mix their tradition with elements of contemporary life, tribe youths record on their cell phones the ancestral songs sung by the elders.

Some of them also have profiles on socials portraying the routine of the group. The passage from childhood to the teenage years, for instance, is marked by a period of six months, during which the teenager can only leave the house covered by a wicker mat.

The idea that transition times, such as puberty, demand retreat and self-communion (in other words: time to adapt) is a lesson nature is frequently trying to teach us. Butterflies and their journey from egg to larva, then the amazing pupa period and, finally, adulthood is one of the most beautiful expressons of it. Another way of dealing with changes it through silence.

From the respectful minute of silence in solemn ceremonies to the the vow of silence present in various religions orders, there are many different cultural manifestations of silence as a method or a means to achieve something. After a hard week and a even ahrder weekend, I tried the silence game à la G., which consists of talking only the strictly necessary, no social networks and, most important, no news for 48 hours.

I cannot say my detox days were easy, but the experience was totally worth it. The first impact is that time seems to grow, when we are in silence: suddenly you will have some extra hours in your hand. In my case, those were probably the hours that I would had spend reading the news or checking hashtags and getting angry on Twitter. Anyway, the fact is that instead I had time for long, guiltless, refreshing naps.

The real surprise, though came after my silent days, on my way back to normal, noisy routine: after my “unplugged” period, I did not feel the urge to read all the news, nor to post on my socials. While checking the headlines, I have selected three of four news that really interested me and read them throughfully. After that, I was ready to go back to my things, no trace of F.O.M.O whatsoever.

You might find it funny to have a singer writing an ode to silence, but deaing with sounds is precisaly the reason why I cherish my quiet moments so much. Keeping the communication noise down from time to time helps me a lot to curate my interests in music, just like it happenned with the news. In other words: it helps me to focus on what is really important.

The rest is silence.

Be seeing you!

G.F.

Do you consider yourself an organized person? I would love to tell you that I have my whole year planned in advance or, at least, the entire month, but instead I have to admit (with a little bit of shame) that despite my efforts to classify my priorities in short, middle and long ones, in terms of sticking to a pre-schedule list of activities, I barely reach a week.

How come? Well, if life happens while we are busy with our little things, sometimes it throws a big flaming ball on our direction. “Catch it!”, life says. You know you are going to hurt yourself anyway, but what can you do? You simply try not to drop the flaming ball, than you handle it (and your burns) the best you can, and when it cools dows a bit, you keep playing the game.

Some call the flaming balls “problems”, but I´d rather prefer to describe them as big things. All right, I know we learn to remember and cherish the good big events in life, but let us be honest: we all know that there will also be lots of rainy days, some storms now and then and, eventullay, even biblical floods.

“It is allright, if it is going wrong“, sings Ed Motta in the refrain of his 1997 song Vendaval (Windstorm). Gilberto Gil reinforces the message in Retiros Espirituais (Spiritual Retreats):

In my spiritual retreats
I discover certain banal things
How to have problems,
Be the same as not
Resolving to have them, is to have them,
Resolving to ignore them, is to have them

Last week I got one of those flaming balls thrown right in my face. Lots of burns, probably some scars. Needless to say, my weekly schedule was (again) totally ruined, but gee, did I manage to handle it well! Now, dear life, it is my turn. Catch it!

Be seeing you!

G.F.

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.