LÚCIA DE CARVALHO :
The art of rooting Light
Lúcia de Carvalho is an alchemist, a seeker of sense, a kindler of essence. Her voice transmits vibrations that heal and transform; her drum transmits the voice of the ancestors, inviting us to reconnect with our deepest selves. Voice and rhythms unite in the service of beauty: the beauty that inhabits us and the beauty that surrounds us. For those ready to cast off and set sail, her hybrid universe will act as a beacon, inviting us to hold our course despite winds and tides. Everything is there. All we have to do is get on board and let ourselves go.
The little girl born in Luanda certainly had no inkling of the improbable twists and turns her destiny would take, as she listened to her mother singing to alleviate the burden of long days spent raising her five daughters. The mother took her three youngest daughters with her when she left for Portugal and placed them in a reception centre near Lisbon. Lúcia was 12 years old when she was told that she would be going to live with a foster family in France, together with her two sisters. That’s how she ended up in Meistratzheim, a little village in the Alsace where she quickly adapted to local life, even though she missed her mother who stayed in Portugal, even though she had no intention of forgetting her African roots.
© Franck Loriou
They resurfaced in an unexpected way: a Brazilian band happened to play in her village, and in their Brazilian rhythms, dances and songs, she found the same joy and force of life she had known in her native Angola. It was with that band, Som Brasil, that she took her first musical steps, progressing from backing vocalist to lead singer, moving from dancing to drumming and immersing herself for ten long years in a luxuriant bath of traditional Brazilian rhythms.
In 2008, she decided to embark on a solo career and write her own songs. The release of her first EP, Ao descubrir o mundo, three years later, revealed an all-encompassing passion for rhythm, a love of Brazilian sounds, and a desire to give her heritage a chance to reach out and travel by clothing it in rock and reggae flavours. “Quem Sou?” “Who am I?” That was the question she asked herself in one of her songs, a question that had long haunted her as she attempted to navigate between France, her Angolan roots and the promised land in Brazil. She met Edouard Heilbronn, a young French bassist, who had just spent three years roaming distant parts of the planet, finishing his journey in the city of all the saints and all the rhythms: Salvador de Bahia. What was bound happen, happened, and hey began to share their life and their music, working together on their compositions, playing everywhere they could, gifting audiences with Lúcia’s dazzling solar energy.
Then, with a demo for a new album in their pocket, they set off together on a long journey, both musical and initiatory, that took them to Brazil and Angola. Kuzola (‘Love’ in the Kimbundu language of Angola), was the title of the album that was released in 2016, and of a moving documentary that retraced Lúcia’s quest for her roots and offered some answers to her questions about her own identity: “ the roots are Angola, the branch is Portugal, the flower at the end of it is Brazil, and France is the ground in which that flower was given a chance to grow.”
If Kuzola was a quest for meaning, the quest this time is for the essence. A joyful and positive experience worth contemplating. It has enabled Lúcia, always in partnership with Edouard Heilbronn, to strike out into new territory on this third album, recorded and mixed by Jean Lamoot at Studio Ferber in Paris. Of course, Africa and Brazil are still there on Pwanga, forming the heart of Lúcia as she lives and writes to the beat of the drum, finding words, melodies and rhythms on the same impulse. A raw diamond that her accomplice polishes, enriching the harmonies and sonic imagery and turning the songs on the album into travel films featuring international Brazilian and Angolan Musicians.
“Pwanga ni Puy?” “Light or Darkness?” Pwanga! (‘Light’) is the title of Lúcia de Carvalho’s new album. It allies gentleness to power, meaning to essence, the light to the deep roots of a tree born in Africa, whose branches embrace the world, whose flowers appear as 13 touching and sunny songs. It took a while her to realise, but her own name proclaims her vocation and has done right from the very beginning. Lúcia, ‘light’, of Carvalho, ‘the oak’ in Portuguese: the strength of the tree. A revelation that aptly sums up her poetic and human quest: “to root the light.”