Straight from black Bahia, singer Juliana Ribeiro not only performs Afro-Brazilian music but also does academic research on the history of the genre


Note from BW of Brazil: Juliana Ribeiro is an artist from heavily Afro-Brazilian state of Bahia who brings not only the history of Afro-Brazilian music in her sounds and performances, she is also important as the rare artist who goes beyond learning her craft through practice, but she has also delved into the history of these sounds in her academic career. Her music represents hundreds of years of the traditions developed by Africans enslaved in Brazil and her academic research also brought her closer to her ancestral roots as she connected with the historical importance of one of Brazil’s greatest singers and historic treasures!

Check out Juliana Ribeiro’s CD of Afro-Brazilian music

She is the daughter of the Sol (sun) and Oxum (1), belongs to the sign of Leo and has the Chinese element of Fire. The description of her personality led to the choosing of the title of Juliana Ribeiro’s first CD, Amarelo, meaning yellow. The work is the result of extensive research that brings unusual harmony among jongo, Angolan samba, batuque (drumming), MPB (Brazilian Popular Music), lundu, ijexá, maxixe and samba is a música afro-brasileira (Afro-Brazilian music).

amarelo CD

A vast African inspiration! The repertoire consists of compositions of the great names of the Bahian music scene such as Roberto Mendes, J. Veloso, Tiganá Santana and Reginaldo Souza. Still completing the CD is a new interpretation of the song “Zé do Caroço”, comprised by samba great Leci Brandão.

The Rebucetê Interview: Juliana Ribeiro

By Thaís Pimenta

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The work of Juliana Ribeiro is the sum of musicality with academic research. The singer-songwriter is a graduate in History and has technical training in Operatic Song at the Universidade Federal da Bahia (UFBa), but it was in 2005, when she was studying popular song at UNICAMP, that she discovered and became fascinated by a series of rhythms, genres, and manifestations that preceded the samba. “I have always been a popular singer and this kept bothering me, operatic singing is different from popular song, so I went to Unicamp, in 2005, to study popular song, the passion that drove me.” The research started at Unicamp by Juliana gave birth to her master’s thesis in Culture and Society at the School of Communication at the Federal University of Bahia (Facom-UFBa), and her new CD, Amarelo.

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Juliana has an established career on the soteropolitano (Salvador) music scene, and now, through the Projeto Amarelo Itinerante, funded by the Culture of the State of Bahia (FUNCEB), her work has been extended to the inner cities. In Vitória da Conquista (Bahia) she presented a yellow and radiating show, just as she defined it minutes before going on stage. Every show, a local songwriter/performer is invited to share the stage with Juliana. In the city of cold, the guest was Alisson Menezes, an artist whose work is also focused on popular culture.

Samba, ijexá, maracatu, lundu. Three centuries of stories sung in an hour show. Identity music with a contemporary reinterpretation. The singer invited the audience on a trip to the seventeenth century to the senzalas (slave quarters). The only thing the show didn’t have was shackles as the audience broke loose and started a roda de samba (samba circle).

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A daughter of Oxum, raised by Iemanjá, coming from the waters and with a latent baianidade (Bahian way), Juliana Ribeiro, minutes before her presentation, spoke with O Rebucetê. A wide smile wide and striking look, the singer talked about her musicianship, trajectory, and experience with the Amarelo Itinerante project.

O Rebucetê: What is your relationship with the samba and popular song in general? How do you link your academic research with your musical work?

JR: I consider myself a researcher and a popular singer. What moves me are the manifestations of popular culture. In fact, the samba has become a way of life for me, because it was through samba that I found a number of other rhythms, a number of other matrices that come from the eighteenth century, seventeenth century, things that were only done in the senzalas and that move me, captivate me very much. When I went to Unicamp, in 2005, to study popular songs, there I had to do a work on singers of the 1930s, so I went to research the in the library records at Unicamp and discovered that there are a number of other rhythms, genres and manifestations that were not samba, but that preceded the samba, and it began to enchant me, because they are very identitarian songs…I discovered lundu, I discovered Xisto Bahia from 1880, then I discovered jongo, I discovered Clementina de Jesus that led me to batuque, that led me to jongo itself because she is also jongueira. I also discovered samba angolano (Angolan samba). So today I’m used to saying that there is no samba de raiz (root samba), there is samba de raízes (samba of roots). Samba doesn’t have a root, it has several matrices that I bring to the stage in Amarelo, ie, three centuries on a CD.


OR: Did the stage lead you to your master’s research, or did your research motivate you to take popular song to the stage?

JR: The stage led me to the research. I took history in Salvador and technical training in Opera Singing at UFBA, but I was always a popular singer and this kept bothering me, opera singing is different from popular song. Then I went to Unicamp in 2005, the passion drove me. I started research that there led to my CD and also my master’s dissertation. I did my masters on the samba, the question of samba as identity, which is this construction starting from the 1950s, as national identity. But without a shadow of a doubt it was my stage, my research because of studying the repertoire, I’ll never stop taking to the stage a song if I don’t know who the composer is, the context in which it was composed, the sense of it, I always do this, it’s a part of me. And then when the more you research the more you discover that not. Then the master’s was a consequence of this, it will an enormous pleasure to be able to do a thesis on something you like.

Juliana Ribeiro 3

OR: Is your music contemporary or identitarian?

JR: The two things, you know? Because it’s like this, identitarian without a shadow of a doubt, I sing, for example, a lundu from 1880. And at the same time I sing this and people sing in the middle of 2012, it becomes identitarian. I don’t need to talk, I sing, the people sing there with me, and they identify. And at the same time we do a re-reading, I don’t bring to the stage the sheet music of the nineteenth century, we do a remake. I use an instrument that is Spanish, I play cajon, for example, I have the sax in my training…You cannot de-contextualize music, I, Juliana Ribeiro, I’m in 2012, so my music has to speak in 2012 for the public 2012. And identitarian yes, but it’s also contemporary.

O Rebucetê: You have technical training in classical singing from UFBa, right? But in 2005 you went to study popular singing at UNICAMP. What did you find in popular song that the classical didn’t offer you?

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JR: Actually they’re different things, they’re different techniques and different applications. In classical singing the voice is used as an instrument. It resembles, for example, a flute, a clarinet. In popular singing vocal placement is different, in popular song you have voice that speaks behind the voice that sings, ie, you have an identity that that singer has to pass on, and it’s this identity that the singer has to pass on, and it is this identity that causes the audience to identify themselves. We have Água de Março as an example, several people have interpreted it, but Elis Regina is hard to beat in this (song). The operas are theaters, they were theaters to the open sky and you interpret the whole time, in popular song it’s pure exposition, it’s you, you and you.

OR: In the first question, you mentioned Clementina de Jesus. Is Clementina a strong musical reference for you? How was your first contact with her? What is the connection between Clementina and the musicality of Juliana Ribeiro?

JR: I’m used to saying that she manages to synthesize three hundred years of history in three-minutes of song. For me she is a diva, a goddess, she’s a person I truly worship. She brought to me a number of rhythms and stories and ancestry, that if it wasn’t Clementina de Jesus I would not have known, it was very cool. The vussungo, for instance, is a language, a dialect that is a mixture of African languages ​​with Portuguese that the slaves used to communicate without the masters understanding, but then this vussungo became a work song, people started to compose in vussungo, and I was discovering that with Clementina, if she hadn’t recorded, this history would have died. So I am very grateful to her for introducing me to my own ancestry.

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OR: You are already a singer known on the Salvador music scene, but not so much in the Bahian interior. And now with the Amarelo Itinerante project you’re taking your music to other cities. Besides disseminating the CD, what is the importance of decentralizing your work, your music? How has that experience been?

JR: I realize that each day that I spend the interior is deprived of these attractions. It’s necessary to effectively find a circulation. Bahia is much more than Salvador, and this is the proposal Amarelo Itinerante, it’s you removing from the large urban center, where everybody knows me, where I already have an established career and taking my song beyond my Salvador. I’m sure that it has a thirsty public, wanting to hear what I have to pass on, it’s the formation of a public identity. That’s what Amarelo has proven. Santo Amaro, was very nice, it was the first show, I received several artists that to me are very dear, such as the sambadeiras. Yesterday in Jequié was wonderful, a packed audience, one hundred children, and to me that was the glory, because it’s the children who will form a musical taste at home, that will have other sonorous possibilities.

Source: Raça Brasil, O Rebucetê


1. Oshun, or Ochun in the Yoruba religion, is an Orisha who reigns over love, intimacy, beauty, wealth and diplomacy. She is worshiped also in Brazilian Candomblé Ketu, with the name spelled Oxum. She should not be confused, however, with a different Orisha of a similar name spelled “Osun,” who is the protector of the Ori, or our heads and inner souls. Ochun relates mostly to woman but also man. Source


About Marques Travae 3747 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

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