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.

My friend J.P. likes to know what I think about things. From a slap on the Oscars Award to international politics, he cares to hear my point of view and I certainly appreciate it. For this reason, even perfectly aware of the risks implied, I allow myself to be very sincere with him.

When he asked me about elements to consider when choosing a career, the first thing I mentioned to him was the importance of passion. People usually say that you have to like what you do, in order to become good on it, but I would go even further and say that “liking” it, is just the beginning.

If you plan on doing something for the long term, you need to be passionate about what you do. How passionate? To the point of dedicating an incredible amount of hours of your day, of your life, to it and still have a twinkle in your eye when you talk about it with someone else.

Don’t be a fool: there will always be disappointment, disillusionment and a lot of tears along the way. Will that stop you? No, because you will still know it is part of a game worth playing. How will you know that? You will simply know, trust me, or better, don´t trust me, trust yourself.

Be passionate about what you do, but don´t forget that the word passion carries both sides: the drama and the thrill, high and low, yin and yang. Be passionate about what you do and you will be in tune with the continuous flow of life.

Be seeing you!

G.F.

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.

“My grandmother was born on April 5th. I was nine years old when she died but as I age, her traces seem to be more and more present in me.”

I started the sentences above yesterday, the day I´ve planned to release this text, but then I was too busy and I missed the date of birth of my grandmother. I didn´t want to do it, because I have a great respect for dates and I really wanted to honor her birthday accordingly, but the fact is that I missed it.

I wonder how many times my grandmother missed or had to give away things that were very important to her, simply because life came in between, changing plans, re-arranging things we took for granted, leaving us no choice than recalculating the route. And sometimes we don´t even know which route we are in.

Belated or not, I would like to share a few words with you about my grandmother for she is probably one of the strongest, most interesting women I´ll ever meet in my life, and I am not only considering the way she managed to raise her seven children despite being often in dire financial straits (and frankly, we should stop reducing a woman´s bio to her role as a mother and how good or bad she played it), but also how ingenious she was. Every time she faced adversity, she dribbled it, as we say.

She was a short-tempered free thinker that would make her point looking straight to the eyes of the person she was speaking to, rather than in her/his back and, according to my family, I inherited all the previously mentioned characteristics. She was an avant-guarde woman in many ways, an excellent cooker and hers is the finest reply to a racist comment ever (long story).

Her name was Aurea, which means golden and I cannot think of a better word to describe her. She was made of gold and I know that somehow, she never stopped shining. She never will.

Be seeing you!

G.F.

p.s. Many songs remind me of granny, who had a good voice and also liked to sing, but this one has a special meaning to me and I try to include it in all my performances.

p.p.s. Wanna see a picture of granny as a young lady? She is on the collage of pictures on my Facebook profile (top left)

Hey, there! How is your February going so far? Weird? It could be worse, trust me.

If you ever been to or lived in Rio de Janeiro you know that February is deeply related to Carnaval, which is deeply related to dancing and singing in the streets, which is deeply related to being happy. Let me remind you that not even World War II had the power to interrupt the popular tradition. The perspective of a February without Carnaval is for me one of the most eloquent signs that things are far from being back on track. Since we have been dealing with the expression “new normal” for quite a while now, I would like to propose a reflection on what is “normal” to you.

As far as I remember, l have been called weird by family members. The reasons would vary: tastes, looks, opinions. Weird is my old normal, so to speak. One of the most frequently given reasons was the way I move my hands. Like Italians, Brazilians also speak with their hands, but apparently my gestures are too big, too wide, too much even for Latin standards. Of course I hated the comments and felt a bit ashamed for not fitting in, until I understood what was so peculiar about my gestures after all: they were perfect to fill the stage. No wonder they felt misplaced in mundane, domestic situations! Now try them during a performance and they seem meaningful and unique. In other words: weird in a nice way.

Changing the approach to things can be a very interesting, sometimes also very painful, but always rewarding exercise. Does it prevent you from still being called a weirdo? No. Do I gently smile each time I hear it? Yes, noblesse oblige, but let us be honest: who needs normal, when you can have grand?

Here is a practical example, so that you can make your own opinion about my stage gestures (feel free to subscribe to the channel!).

Be seeing you!

G. F.