Grammy-Award Winner Luciana Souza Graces Bucknell
Recently, Brazil met Bucknell in the Weis Center lobby…talk about a culture shock! On the evening of Wednesday, April 17, listeners in the Weis Center for Performing Arts were graced with the presence of Grammy Award-winning jazz singer Luciana Souza featuring Romero Lubambo. This “Brazilian Duo” wowed the audience with their easy-going presence juxtaposed by their magnificent and awe-inspiring performance. Souza’s deep involvement as a musician is no secret. Having grown up in São Paulo, Brazil to a singer/songwriter father and poet/lyricist mother, Souza was constantly surrounded by evolving musical influences.
Since beginning her recording career in 2002, Souza has released several acclaimed records including Brazilian Duos, North and South, Tide, The Book of Chet, and many more. She has also had the privilege of recording with many notable names such as Herbie Hancock, Paul Simon, James Taylor and Bobby McFerrin, just to name a few.
The gold of a magnificent setting sun created a warm glow behind the duo, the pink lights highlighted the faces of the performers as they played in the Weis Center Lobby. As the crowd filled in quickly with many scouring for seats, Souza and Lubambo casually and comfortably came onto the stage joking around encouraging more applause.
After a short introduction, Lubmbo became engulfed in his guitar strumming and plucking as Souza gracefully and skillfully scratched her jazz drum and began singing. Her smooth, silky and captivating voice quickly filled Weis Lobby with melodic splendor.
Soon after the finish of their first song, Souza gave a brief introduction to Lubambo. Lubambo, revered for his ability to transcend all music genres with his guitar skills, has been performing with Souza since 1996. “Longer than any marriage I’ve had...” she jokingly added. Both come from the Northeastern region of Brazil.
As the concert progressed, Souza told listeners about her love for American jazz musician Chet Baker and cited him as one of her main influences. Souza then began her rendition of Baker’s “The Thrill Is Gone,” a sad, slow song with a strong message about love and loss. Unlike the previous songs sung in Portuguese, Souza sang this one in English.
Souza then continued with Baker’s “She Was Too Good To Me” in her clear, beautiful voice. However, Souza adapted the song and made it her own by singing “he” instead of “she.”
After her original, unique, and emotionally-charged covers of Baker’s songs, Souza and Lubambo engaged in back-and-forth banter between songs throughout the rest of the show. The chemistry between the two long-time friends was clearly visible: the two laughed, played, and giggled in between songs, adding an appealing sense of authenticity to the show.
The remainder of Souza and Lubambo’s performance consisted of short, upbeat, playful melodies that helped pay homage to their homeland. As one of their last songs, the duo performed a popular Brazilian song called “Roses Don’t Speak,” a slow, clear, sweet medley meant to honor the land that Souza and Lubambo love. As a finale, Souza and Lubambo performed a cover of the Elis Regina song “Aguas de Marco” and certainly did the song justice with their playful melodic exchange.
Both Souza and Lubambo demonstrated not only their chemistry and their love for music on stage, but also their absolute mastery of their instruments. Souza’s celebratory, smooth, clear, and sweet voice is unique to say the least; and by the looks of it, the audience was as smitten as we were while listening to her perform. Lubambo’s guitar skills are no secret, and watching him perform felt like an honor more than anything else.
In an hour and a half, this “Brazilian Duo” turned Weis Lobby into an escape from reality, a place far from the Bubble where ultimate felicidad-happiness-permeated through the air and enriched listeners, young and old alike.