WOMADelaide is famous for offering a taste of music from all over the world, but there are few with as rich an array of flavours as Flavia Coelho.
Bazillion born singer Flavia is bringing her Catalan rumba, samba, bossa nova, ragamuffin hip hop style to Adelaide for WOMADelaide this year.
Currently living in Paris, the singer who began making music when she was fourteen years old, made the move to the romantic city for opportunity and inspiration.
“I decided to come to Paris because I came here for here first time in 2002 when I made a show with a completely different group. I fell in love with Paris city,” she says.
“First because there’s a lot of history and I studied that in school. And second because all my favourite artists lived here in Paris; like Miles Davis, Jim Morrison, Youssou N’dour. For me and my inspiration when I made the albums, it was very important. Not just for my albums but also to grow up as a true girl. It was an important separation for me from my family, my country, for the chance to grow up.”
Flavia speaks fluent French, so we are speaking through a translator, however the high-spirited, warm-natured singer enjoys using her excellent skills in English, often jumping ahead of our translator to answer the questions herself.
“I went to New Caledonia which was great for the WOMAD festival but it’s my first time in Australia. I am so excited. The WOMAD Festival is really, really big and I want to see a maximum of artists. I want to talk with all artists. I want to talk with people from Australia and people visiting Australia. In a place like WOMAD, I think people have spirits that are open and I think that is a good time and I want to live that,” she says.
“I had the opportunity to go to the WOMAD Festival in London. I really like the principle and the feel of the festival with people helping each other and making people aware of all the issues in the planet and the mix of all the music in the world. Of course the fact that WOMAD was created by Peter Gabriel as well. I’m a great fan of his. So very happy to join WOMAD.”
Speaking to BSide Mag from chilly Paris, Flavia is also looking forward to seeing the sun again.
“You have very good weather. Beautiful weather like Brazil. I need that. I don’t have a problem with the cold weather but when you are here a long time and: never sun, never sun, open a window, never sun, one more time, never sun! You give me the sun!” she laughs.
A genuinely positive person and self-made musician, Flavia has grabbed on to all the opportunities her life has presented her.
Having grown up in a working class family in Brazil, Flavia made the bold decision to become the first musician in her family, and was not shy to ask for help along the way.
“I’m a musician because nobody in my family made music and I wanted to travel. When I was so young, a child, I had dreams. I wanted to travel, meet people, go to the United States, to France. My family is very simple family. They work. My mother cuts hair. I have a poor family. All my life. Then when I was fourteen, I decided I wanted to become a true singer. Nobody in my family played music; nothing, nothing. And I said, we need to have one first started!” she laughs.
“A lot of things and people helped me become like that. I learned the music from the people and the musicians. I didn’t go to the music school because I was poor. My career is completely because of people helping because I have no problem asking, ‘Can you help me here? Can you learn me that?’ It’s not a problem for me.”
The WOMADelaide, Flavia will be playing songs from her previous recording but she’ll be sharing a lot of her new work, Mundo Meu, a cathartic album for her that helped her through a difficult time.
“The second album, I wrote because I had a love story that didn’t end very well. So to cure and help me going through that experience, I wrote the album. I’m a very positive and happy person. I want to be happy in life. Writing the songs helped me to be very happy and to be better and I love being happy and making people happy,” she says.
“Mundo Meu means ‘my intimate world’ or ‘my own world’. With this album, and the writing of it, I thought a lot of Brazil. I grew up in Brazil and spent my whole life in Brazil. But the album isn’t just for people of Brazil. It’s for all people in the world. All people everywhere have the problem with family, money and love.”
WOMADelaide is on from 6-9th March in Botanic Park and tickets are available here.
By Libby Parker
Photo courtesy of Flavia Coelho