Here in the U.S., Katy Perry and Gotye may be racking up the views on YouTube, but down south, it is a whole different world where pop culture is concerned. With over ten million albums sold so far, Brazilian singer Marisa Monte has taken the world by storm with her silky-smooth sounds and hipster vibe. Her most recent album, O Que Você Quer Saber de Verdade, was released in October 2011 and has since been electrifying the Latin world with several hits.
Born in 1967 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Monte lost no time in soaking up the musical spotlight, beginning training in opera singing at a young age. However, she soon branched out into creating more modern, popular music. In the 1980s, Monte became associated with the MPB (Música Popular Brasileira) genre, which involves a wide array of both traditional and contemporary styles ranging from samba to rock. Monte later became an established musical phenomenon throughout the Brazilian nation, releasing her first album in 1989 and eight albums since. Some of her covers include songs by Marvin Gaye and George Harrison, further associating her with the spotlight of classic pop.
As for Monte’s music, O Que Você Quer Saber de Verdade has sold over 250,000 copies by itself. The songs on this album are relaxed and slightly whimsical, and sound as if they were made to be played at a classy coffee shop. Overall, Monte’s voice consists of the lofty pitches and soft melodies that have been so famously used by artists like Ingrid Michaelson and Adele. Such a voice combined with the light strums of guitars and ukuleles creates an album that flows and relaxes like water. Hit singles like the romantic “Ainda Bem” and the famous “O Que Você Quer Saber de Verdade” itself have placed number one in rankings across Brazil, verifying that the music of Marisa Monte will not soon be forgotten.
Sometimes it is hard to believe that America might not dominate in the pop music department everywhere. Icons like Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift cast too large a shadow for us to see much more. People like Monte prove that anybody from any country can contribute to the genre. Though she has developed a huge following in both the real world and on places like Facebook (with over 325,000 fans so far), what makes Monte special is that she does not seem to care about the fame: It’s all about the music. Her voice seems to harmonize perfectly with the instruments that accompany it, and together they create a single, melodious sound that cannot be described in words.
Brazil should be proud to be the birthplace of this rising star, and anyone looking for a smooth sound should give Marisa Monte a try.