Vem Pra Rua: The Music Of Brazilian Protest

Jun 20, 2013

A Brazilian colleague once told me a wry joke: "We are forever the country of the future." He was referring to the fact that, for decades, the South American giant has been held up as a model of economic and social progress — but for so many Brazilians, that growth is not felt. There is currently a 21 percent poverty rate.

In the last few days, thousands of Brazilians have taken to the streets to protest price hikes and corruption. That sentiment has been percolating for a long time, and is not without precedent: Brazil has a long history of political protest and activism.

Brazil always fights back; you have to look no further than its rich musical history to see that. Too often, the melancholy in Brazilian culture gets lost in translation, but that's also a casualty of cultural misunderstanding and the fetishization of Brazil and its people, who are too often billed as happy, over-sexed, party-hard alternatives to the grim denizens of other nations. This does no justice to the depth and beauty of Brazilians' ongoing struggle: If you take away people's tragedies, you also water down their victories.

Thursday on Tell Me More, we discuss the musicians who add a soundtrack to the protests currently rocking Brazil. We also pay our respects to Brazil's history of protest music with a look at back at the '70s, when Chico Buarque and Milton Nascimento bravely took the stage to denounce a brutal dictatorship.

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