By Liza Vosbigian
I finally fulfilled a dream when I took my godson Tamir to Bahia, Brazil in 2003. I remember playing Gilberto Gil’s music and him singing along at nine years old, when started also to count in Portuguese. I would take him to my house where there was always an abundance of Brazilian music. As he grew older and became a teenager I wondered if he would love this music the same way I did. What brings me happiness was seeing Tamir catching on to Ilea Aye, Djavan, Hermeto Pascoal, Milton Nascimento and Daniella Mercury. At this time I took him to Capoeira classes (Brazilian dance and martial art) every week and he excelled with Mestre Amen.
Now at 16, he plays in the Samba Group “Alma da Batucada” (Soul Beat) with a friend from Capoeira along with five others friends that attended Hamilton High school in Los Angeles and his twelve years old brother. In the beginning I thought this was just my music, but now I clearly see it is also his music.
The true test came when he finally experienced Brazil in Bahia style when day and night he saw the best groups including Afro Blocos and played Capoeira with children as young as three and men as old as sixty. Than went to the beach along side the “Baianos” (people from Bahia) that sold anything from hot cheese on a stick, to tapioca and steamed crabs.
He saw all this food being sold on the beach without ever having to get up from his towel. Beach vendors even came spraying watering if you became to hot, not to mention the endless sounds of music coming from the nearby huts. Tamir had daily does of every type of musical experience, even while sitting in front of my friends salon,” Negra Jho” in the Pelourinho, where he saw folks playing percussion on trashcans, chairs, plastic and all type of objects.
Prior to departure he had the opportunity to visit a Pai de Santo (spiritual medium) for a reading to find out who his orisha or saint is from the Candomble religion. I watched my Godson open up to the possibility of understanding a new found spirituality never yet experienced. He was given a leaf bath to pour over his head in the shower and not to towel dry, but to leave in the smell of the leaves. I still can recall the wonderful fragrance after hugging him.
Upon his departure from Bahia we waited at the airport and had a conversation about dream and reality, but I knew it was time to leave this young man alone and wait for his flight, so he could meditate on his experiences in Brazil. We said goodbye, I told Tamir that I loved him, which was the first I utter those word since he was a child, and he responded “I love you too”.
Back to Los Angeles his suitcases were packed full of Brazilian arts and crafts, but also with “very special objects”: two Cuicas, a cavaquinho, a pandeiro, a tamborim, six malates, and a berimbau (Brazilian music instruments).
* Liza Vosbigian is an American jewelry artist. She has a lot Brazilian friends in Southern California, and in special, Los Angeles where she lives. Liza wrote this article exclusively to Soul Brasil in our issue 6 of 2003.