Image by Doug Menuez


Maguinha, My Singing Sister

by Betulia Machado Eriksson

We were born and grew up in the interior of Goias, in Brazil. A river - with its curves, current, dark waters and a black bridge - cut through our world. That river was the Piracanjuba. Beyond the river, the dusty road lead to the town, and then to the immense universe that was our backyard.

It was there, amidst mango and guava trees with their cicadas and small birds - together with our daddy's guitar and our momma's beautiful, perfectly pitched voice - that Maguinha learned how to sing. I, who only liked to play with crickets, lizards, mud and the holes on the adobe walls that enclosed our backyard, was happy to just scribble on the soil with a piece of dry wood while I listened to her singing.

While we grew up, our house was a reason for serenades. Our front porch became a garden filled with stolen roses, thrown in by the musicians, their petals covering the ground.

Life went on giving birth to all of Maguinha's dreams, dreams of people, dreams of animals, until dreams came out of her voice. The passing years transformed her singing. She came to know the colors, the flavors, the cities, and the seasons - until autumn came.

Between us exists a tie of invisible lines. And she has always had the map of my soul on the palm of her hand.

There isn't what to write about Maguinha. Nor what to say, nor what to think - because what is most beautiful can't be said in words. These words haven't yet been invented. Here I stay, in the beauty of the dis-invention. Hoping to be like children who say everything, while seeming to be saying nothing at all.





 The singer left the state of Goiás, in Brazil, with its savannah, ranches, farms and forests, in 1970, at the most brutal time of military rule. In New York, she attended C.W. Post College of Long Island University and graduated in Languages and Education. She went on to sing at the Feitiço, in Greenwich Village, in New York City, with guitarist Beso. There she was heard by percussionist Dom Um Romao, of Weather Report and joined his band for a debut concert at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. in 1979.

She is happy to have sung with a long list of musicians during her life.

In the early 80’s, in Brazil: Cesinha Canedo, Bororo Felipe, Ricardo Leao, Antonio Adolfo.

In New York: Sam Elyachar, Alph Edwards, Romero Lubambo and Nilson Matta; In Italy, with Luiz Lima.

Great music partners continued to grace her life onward into the next decades: Arun (Roberto Pereira) and James Ernst Dias, in Brasilia; Tim Goplerud, Dave Blakey, Marcos Silva and Ricardo Peixoto in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 1999, she recorded in Denver with musician and songwriter Spencer Pyne.  In Miami: with legendary Haitian singer and songwriter Manno Charlemagne, and his Tap Tap Band, Brazilian musicians Ivo de Carvalho, Paulo de Carvalho, Jose Rubens Lopes, Edu Helou and Maluh de Felice.

In the years 2012-2014, in Hong Kong, she worked with Arnaldo Freire, Joao Mascarenhas and Alexis Alrich.

Recordings: Of Green and Light (De Verde e Luz), 1983, Earth and Sky, 2005, The Sound and the Feeling, a free-jazz project with Saulo Ferreira, in 2006),  Voyage to Vera Cruz, done with award winning guitarist Douglas Lora (Hollywood, 2007).  This album won the Brazilian International Press Award in 2008.

A new album, Terra (Hong Kong, Brasilia, 2015) with all original music, was released in the USA, in March 2016.
  All three albums are available in CD form, and as .mp3s which can be purchased for download at any digital music store or service worldwide.