Raiz Pantaneira

Helena Meirelles
Raiz Pantaneira



1. Volta da Guira Campana
2. Agua Parada
3. 1st de Maio
4. Fandango Em Porto
5. Rincao Guarani
6. Dona Dalva
7. Rio Negrinho
8. A Familia Arrastape
9. Nha Lorona
10. Acampamento Cerrollon
11. Capelinha Branca
12. Viradouro
13. Epitaciana
14. Guiomar
Helena Meirelles: Violão, Dobro, Viola
Gesílio Pereira: Baixo
Francisco Machado: Violão
Ailton Torres: Violão
Sérgio Reis: Vocal (14)
All tracks Helena Meirelles,
just track 14: Haroldo Lobo, Wilson Batista
I am a 49 years old Brazilian who grew up inland that country. Much to my parents disappointment, and to our maids relief in relation to the destination of my soul, I believed in mules-without-head, in devils incarnated as people with their goat-feet, and in the power of the holy water to make them explode leaving a sulphur smell... I only saw TV or a paved road when I went to Rio de Janeiro to visit my grandparents.
I had the privilege of living in different areas of Brazil, and to get to know its people, with their simplicity and wisdom, with their hopes and their suffering, with their disbeliefs--in politicians and government--and beliefs in the Other world, both marvelous and terrifying.
This way, through beloved maids and their families, I got to know the simple people's music, the ones played at backyards of simple homes at night, and at the farms by the simple workers using a "violão" (guitar), a "viola de doze cordas" (12 strings guitar), and a "sanfona" (acordeon).
The sounds were tangent, sad, melodious, and they were fading from the popular memory as the country started its exceedingly fast urbanization process in the late 50s.
Recently, some very special people have been digging the musical soil of the states of Goiás, Minas Gerais, and Mato Grosso. This "mining" process has uncovered beautiful gems, and Helena Meirelles is one of the most beautiful of them all: a clear Diamond!
I never heard about her until this February, when my husband came from Brazil with one of her records: "Raiz Pantaneira" (Pantaneira Roots - Pantanal is the swampy area in Mato Grosso do Sul).
It was fascination at first hearing: the soul of the aparently simple people of Goiás and Mato Grosso, with a Guarany background (Mato Grosso was taken by force from Paraguay one day, not long ago...), comes through her music. She is a master composer and a prodigy player, and I could only fall in love with this old Lady of Inland Brazil: Helena Meirelles!
May G'd bless you Helena for all the joy you bring to the world through your music, so simple and so elaborate, so happy and so sad: the music of a suffered people's soul. 
~Sonia Bloomfield Ramagem 
Helena Meirelles was born on a farm in the heart of the hinterlands of the state of Mato Grosso do Sul. The images familiar to her since she was a child were of rural workers, the routine of raising large herds of cattle, and the violeiros (rural musicians). She learned how to play the viola at nine. After an imposed marriage at 17 and the subsequent abandonment of her home, she became involved with several partners and lived in the hottest places, where there always was prostitution, music, and booze. In such hard living, she even had some of her 11 children all by herself, with no help whatsoever. In complete poverty, after 30 years without any contact with her family, she was found by her son who took her to her sister's home where she was taken care of. After a short while, in 1993, her nephew recorded a tape of her playing and sent it to Guitar Player magazine. The magazine's reporters had a hard time when they tried to find the sul-mato-grossense illiterate female musician, who lived in the distant and small city of Presidente Epitácio (São Paulo). She also didn't have a telephone and was completely unknown to the Brazilian specialized press and recording market. But in the next year, Guitar Player had included her in its list of the 100 best picks ever, together with B.B. King, Eric Clapton, and Jimi Hendrix's. In the first of three albums, Helena Meirelles released in that year, she took a large track to account for her life, providing great insight into her peculiar trajectory. She performed in a theater for the first of many times at 67, and her mostly instrumental albums reach an average 80,000 sold copies each, which is considered excellent in this market niche. 
~ Alvaro Neder, All Music Guide

thanks to Spinning In Air for showing the way :)