Note from BBT: When I became aware of the subject of today’s post, I thought that it was very fitting that he would be featured on the Brazilian edition of The Voice talent reality show because he definitely does have an incredible one at that. WD, as he is known, one again demonstrates that there are some very talented singers in Brazil.
Via social networks, all of the chatter was about how the young man moved popular singer IZA to the brink of tears with his dedication and performance. Yes, representation clearly matters for millions of Brazilians of African descent that has been starving for roles models and success stories for decades. Since appearing on the scene and rising to fame, artists such as IZA, Ludmilla and several other singers, funksters and rappers have filled this void.
Beyond this question of black representation, what caught my eye, or rather, era, about WD was the incredible range of his soaring voice. I don’t often hear adult male singers being able to reach notes in such a high upper register. WD ease in reaching such high notes beyond traditional tenor singers reminded me of former After 7 vocalist Kevon Edmonds, the older brother of well-known R&B/Pop songwriter/producer Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds.
Another thing that caught my eye was the video for his song ‘Eu Sou’, meaning ‘I Am’. With images referring to unbelievably high rates of Brazil’s military police murders of black Brazilians, we see headlines such as ‘black city councilwoman assassinated’, ‘another black child is a victim of a stray bullet’, referring to a common police excuse for the deaths of black children during police actions and ‘racism is a rare thing in Brazil’, a phrase uttered by President Jair Bolsonaro, obviously attempting to continue the country’s infamous ‘racial democracy’ myth.
In other sections of the video, we see the artist walking in a mock cemetary surrounded by numerous tombstone crossed showing the names of various black Brazilians who had been murdered violently, often by the Military Police. A few of the names include Rio city councilwoman Marielle Franco, Pedro Gonzaga, Evaldo Rosa, and Luana Barbosa.
The entire song could serve as a battle cry for the evolution of black Brazilian consciousness. In the lyrics, we read about how the artist remembers having been indoctrinated by the idea of whiteness as the standard of beauty and how he things began to change when he was able to come to love himself. With this evolution, he came to see himself as a voice of black resistance. With this self-affirmation, he now wants other black Brazilians to know that their features that have been so long denigrated in Brazilian society are in fact beautiful.
‘I am, the voice of black resistance…
Marginalized and alone, for no longer being an equal
Unable to see beauty in his natural body
He deified the white because of not being the real standard
Everything started to work out when I learned to love myself
Your nose is beautiful, black
Your mouth is beautiful
And your hair is beautiful, black
Your color is beautiful’
WD’s journey to his appearance on The Voice Brasil is inspirational in itself. Duarte is from the city of Campinas located in the state of São Paulo. The first strike in his life had to be his abandonment at birth in a hospital. He was then placed in an orphanage, his grandmother showing up up to re-claim him seven months later. At the age of 6, he was raped by a man. By the age of 7 he was attending dance school and then went on to singing in church. Trying to deal with the challenges life presented to him, he attempted suicide three times.
Having overcome various obstacles in life, today, the man composes his own music and has made a name for himself covering international hits, just like IZA did. All I can say is that, with the right songs, production and marketing, Mr. Duarte could be well on his way to stardom.
Who is WD? The singer who touched Iza on The Voice Brasil 2021
WD, 28, became a favorite on the web after singing ‘Eu Sou’, his own composition song about resistance, race and prejudice
By Juliana Barbosa and Victor Viana
The premiere of The Voice Brasil, on TV Globo, guaranteed approval for 17 voices, but one of them stood out on social networks: Washington Duarte, now popularly known as WD, 28, resident of Campinas, São Paulo. The web fell in love with the man when he sang “Eu Sou”, a song about resistance, race and prejudice.
The lyrics highlight the challenges of a black person, who is often “defined by his voice and his color”, but emphasizes the importance of resisting: “Everything started to work out when I learned to love myself”.
WD managed to get the four members of the jury – singers Carlinhos Brown, Claudia Leitte, IZA, Lulu Santos and Michel Teló – to turn their chairs around. He, however, opted for Team IZA, and the reason surprised the internet.
“My musical history is constructed and based on women, because I’m always inspired by women. And maybe the lack of my mother and me being able to see a black woman, representing and singing about her experiences is very incredible. And I can choose [my team] singing like this?”, said WD, singing an excerpt from IZA’s song ‘Gueto’ to define his choice.
‘Under these braids there is a story to tell…’
The statement moved the singer. “If I am here today, it is because when you started back then, you didn’t let me give up. You are so worth it, thank you so much,” WD added, while IZA controlled her tears.
The Blind Auditions start off with WD rocking out to the sound of “Eu Sou”, his song 👏👏 Who’s digging it?
– The Voice Brasil (@TheVoiceBrasil) October 27, 2021
when i say iza is a NECESSARY artist, that’s what i’m talking about and 🤧❤ representativeness matters YES. pic.twitter.com/1iwFBE4WAt
– Diego Azevedo 🎩 (@diegozvd) October 27, 2021
Although much of the show’s viewers had never heard of WD, long before the reality show, WD was already pursuing a career as a singer.
But who is WD?
At the age of seven, when he joined a dance school, WD began to have contact with art. At 12, he started singing in the youth group of the church he attended.
After a while, he left religion and went on to do different jobs: he was a scenic arts technician, worked at the reception desk of a dance academy, and then became a teacher. Without giving up singing, he recorded a Beyoncé cover and became a success on YouTube. His other videos have more than 8 million views.
He also recorded his own songs on an EP. He has already participated in a Drag Queen contest just to show off his voice. He is currently living in Uruguay, where he sings Latin music and works as a model.
The first video published on WD’s YouTube channel is from 2015 and is a cover of “If I Were A Boy” by Beyoncé. Although he has changed his style quite a bit since then, the excellence in his voice was already noticeable.
Although it is possible to find several covers on his YouTube channel, WD never left aside his vein as a composer and has always shared his own compositions, as is the case of “Eu Sou” (I Am), which has a video clip directed by himself.
The song, which enchanted the jury of “The Voice Brasil” and got IZA excited, now has almost 300,000 views. However, the beautiful song brings a not so beautiful past. The song was written after WD went through a process of about two years of depression.
In the lyrics, the artist tells a bit of his story. Abandoned by his parents soon after his birth, Washington lived for about six months in an orphanage, until he was found by his paternal grandmother, who was responsible for his upbringing. But in addition, WD was even abused as a child.
All the sadness he experienced in his early childhood was transformed into this strong song, which has always made him stand out as an artist. In 2020, WD was interviewed by anesthesiologist Thelma Assis, winner of the Big Brother Brasil reality show in 2020, for the program “É De Casa”. At the time, the artist talked about the difficulties of continuing to work during the pandemic.
At the time he gave the interview for “É De Casa”, WD was living in Uruguay. In fact, the young man managed to stand out in the country after his participation in the “Uruguay Got Talent”. In that occasion, he also sang the hit “Eu Sou” (I Am).
After his performance on “The Voice Brasil”, Lulu Santos, IZA, Claudia Leitte and Carlinhos Brown all turned their attention to him. However, WD decided to stay on IZA’s team, of whom he also revealed being a fan. Will he go far in the competition? We are keeping an eye on him!
On the internet, internet users commented on WD’s performance and stated that his music is important for black representativeness.
“‘Forgotten by the father and mother who made him and didn’t raise him, but thankful to God for his grandmother and grandfather. Give the The Voice award to WD soon!”, said an internet user.
“I went to watch WD’s performance on The Voice Brasil and I’m crying my eyes out…what a beautiful thing!!!!!,” said another, “Dude, WD on The Voice and his song, I’m crying,” commented another.