In the footsteps of the menino veneno

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In 2002, after having spent almost two years living in Brazil and studying MPB (Brazilian Popular Music), I returned to the US for one year where I recorded my album Sonho. At that time, my work was publicized in the Brazilian media in the US. The first reporter who took an interest in my story quickly saw the similarity between my path and that of the British singer, Ritchie, who became a pop star in Brazil in the 80’s with his hit song “Menina veneno” (literally translated “poison girl”). He was thus nicknamed “menino veneno” (“poison boy”). Ritchie’s musical style has been categorized as pop, while I am firmly embedded, heart and soul, in the MPB genre. Read “In the footsteps of the menino veneno” (below). Also, listen to my album Sonho on YouTube by clicking on the video below, and share with your friends.

In the footsteps of the menino veneno
By Marco Fonseca

Almost thirty years after the success of Ritchie, the British pop singer, an American, Michael Anthony tries his luck in the Brazilian music market. The new CD Sonho (“Dream”) reveals the talent and boldness of the artist who records in Portuguese and does arrangements of Jobim’s music.

Newark (NJ, November 2002) – Ritchie was studying literature at the University of Oxford and was already a musician when in 1972 he was introduced to some Brazilian artists including Rita Lee and Liminha. Fascinated with the sound of their band, the “Mutantes”, he decided to try his luck in Brazil teaching English and participating in bands and concerts. He was a great success in the 80’s, influencing an entire generation of composers and musicians, especially foreigners who are enchanted by Brazilian music.

More then 30 years after Ritchie’s adventure, another singer, the American Michael Anthony Lahue will take off to Brazil in search of success. Born in New Jersey (NJ), Michael Anthony is a pianist, singer and songwriter who also fell in love with Brazilian music during his worldly travels. During the Jazz Festival in Montreux, Switzerland in 1996, Michael saw the “Festa na Bahia” featuring Armandinho, Dodô and Osmar, Simone Moreno and Pepeu Gomes. It was there that the young American decided that Brazilian music would be his stage companion and soulmate.

Influenced by the green and yellow hospitality, the composer speaks of Brazil as a “paradise of the heart and a triumph of love”, as if he has already been influenced by the Lusitanian romanticism that runs in our veins. He speaks in Portuguese with almost no accent.

As opposed to Ritchie who arrived and shortly after became engrossed in the artistic world of the Paulistano [São Paulo] nights, Michael has plans beyond the stage. He wants to study music, to better understand Portuguese, to discuss Jobim seated at a corner bar, tap to the samba beat, recite prose and sing serenades. He is a “Brazilianist” at heart, apt to discuss bossa nova, chorinho and jazz with expertise.

Michael is not a dreamer. He wants to be a success and speaks pragmatically of his career plans. In addition to having spent almost two years living in Brazil and studying at the Carlos Gomes Conservatory, he now studies Portuguese at the American English Center, a language school in Newark (NJ). Exploring the complicated idiom, the artist seeks inspiration for his first CD. The work, entitled Sonho, will be released next year (2003) with original compositions in Portuguese and several new arrangements of Jobim.

A challenge that would impress any “menino veneno”. At the studio where he records the CD Sonho: “I want to do the most professional job possible”. The happiness of the Brazilians is contagious: “I love the warmth of the people there and it’s reflected in my music”. The singer and composer finds inspiration in bossa nova and authentic MPB [Brazilian Popular Music] to write his lyrics in Portuguese.

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