The beautiful cadence of Martinho da Vila and Roberta Sá

Brasil Observer - Jun 07 2016

(Leia em Português)


In June, London will taste samba with two voices that represent the best of what this rhythm can offer


By Guilherme Reis

A very popular Brazilian song (“Samba da minha terra”, by Dorival Caymmi) says those who don’t like samba are not good people, have something bad on their mind or some disease on their feet. But even they would agree: samba is the highest expression of what’s Brazilian. As the poet-singer-song-writer Vinicius de Morais would say, samba is sadness with a swing.  Which means: sadness, an inevitable feeling, may be faced with love and grace, with instruments like cavaquinho and pandeiro.

Martinho da Vila and Roberta Sá, with concerts scheduled for late June in London, represent the best of what samba can offer: poetry, cadence, and intelligence. In the words of Aquiles Reis, vocalist of the iconic Brazilian band MPB4 and a music critic, “Martinho da Vila has the power of Zumbi dos Palmares”, a leader of the black resistance against slavery in Brazil during the 17th century, and Roberta Sá is a singer who “was born with the blood of samba circulating through her veins”.

Both of them gave an interview for Brasil Observer by e-mail. “I think samba, morna and fado have a intersection point”, said Roberta Sá about her most recent work, the album Delírio, which brings a delicious combination of these musical genres from Brazil, Cape Verde and Portugal. “They are very different genres that dialogues with each other. The sonority of Delírio has a lot of this. I started looking for music in a more comprehensive way, in the way I do it and where I want to go with it. Thus I have this desire to play in other continents, to do more this exchange with musicians that add elements to my universe,” she added.

Naturally considered a samba singer, Roberta Sá commented: “if you listen, the work of Brazilian artists you will see that samba is present in almost all repertoires.” For her, “even in the more electronic, in the more modern, samba is present. The root is what makes you fly safely. I sing samba because I still think it is, above all, a democratic rhythm. All social classes understand samba, it is a cultural heritage of our country”.

Delírio marks the return of Roberta Sá to studio after three years and brings original songs by Adriana Calcanhotto, Moreno Veloso, Rodrigo Maranhão and Cézar Mendes, in addition to participations by Chico Buarque, António Zambujo, Xande de Pilares and Martinho da Vila.

“Martinho is a gift”, said Roberta Sá about one of her partners in Delírio. She told that the idea of singing one of his songs came up during a tour when they met each other. On the occasion, Martinho da Vila offered her the song “Amanhã é sábado” (“Tomorrow is Saturday”). For Roberta Sá, it “speaks about women empowerment, about women who now are family chief, business women and arrive at home tired, looking for her beloved”.

“Roberta is a great artist and is conquering international audiences”, said Martinho da Vila about Roberta Sá. “We have already shared the stage many times and we are mutual fans”, said the samba master.



Martinho da Vila is undoubtedly one of the greatest names of Brazilian music. He appeared to the general public at the Record TV Festival in 1967, when he presented “Menina Moça”. On the following year, in the fourth edition of the same festival, he launched the classic “Casa de Bamba”, his first success, followed by “O Pequeno Burguês”. He soon became a renowned artist and won many awards, being a major album seller in Brazil. In 1995, with the album Tá delícia, Tá gostoso, he became the first samba singer to exceed the mark of one million copies sold in record time. Now he is preparing a new album for the second semester.

In addition to his music carrer, Martinho da Vila has two other equally important aspects: he is a writer and cultural activist. In 2016, he released his 14th book, the novel Barras, vilas e amores, which came up from his thoughts about politics. Martinho studies International Relations and created the character of an ambassador who tells stories about his travels around the world, including the Vila Isabel neighbourhood in Rio de Janeiro, which gives his nickname Da Vila. In 2015, he attended the Paris Book Fair, launching Os Lusófonos in French. In previous years, his books Joana e Joanes and Ópera Negra were also translated to French.

As a cultural activist, Matinho da Vila promoted this year concerts of Clube do Samba (Samba Club), an initiative created in the late 1970s by João Nogueira, another renowned samba singer, which aimed to boost this music genre in a scenario dominated by foreign music. To the Brasil Observer, Martinho said “we made four commemorative editions to keep alive the memory of this movement that was very important. Other editions are still possible to happen, but depends on sponsorship.”



Many artists have positioned themselves on the political crisis in Brazil. So I asked the opinion of both. Something annoying, yes, but relevant.

Roberta Sá said: “I take great care to talk about it. The feeling is that everyone knows everything about politics now and I think it’s dangerous. The division of the country is clearly seen and, on both sides, there is an over-aggressiveness that doesn’t represent me. We need to review many things, starting with our archaic electoral system. The fortunes of election campaigns elect our representatives in all power ranges. Then keep that political gear running at any price is more important than investing in health, education, culture, sanitation, and housing. I do not understand much of it, but unfortunately I see no solution in the short term.”

Martinho da Vila kept it short: “I don’t feel comfortable talking to the international press about the scandalous Brazilian political crises. I am ashamed and follow the popular saying: dirty laundry we wash at home”.



The concerts of Brazilian artists abroad are often quite different from those in Brazil. The audience, in most cases formed by different nationalities, is generally quieter, and the entire focus is directed to the music. What do Martinho da Vila and Roberta Sá think about that?

“I think it’s wonderful,” said Roberta Sá. “It is important and delightful the warm from the public, the joy, but it is also essential that other side, know to hear a song and get in touch with other emotions.”

For Martinho da Vila, “those who are on stage determine the audience behaviour.” “I want to do a show to be heard, appreciated and interactive. The important thing is to be emotional,” said the singer.

It’s not hard to imagine: London will become greater in the beautiful cadence of Martinho da Vila and Roberta Sá.




When: 26 June

Where: Under the Bridge (Fulham Road, London SW6 1HS)

Entrance: £25




When: 28 June

Where: Barbican Hall (Silk Street, London EC2Y 8DS)

Entrance: £25-45