The metamorphosis of Elza Soares


ELZA SOARES brings “A Voz e a Máquina” (“The Voice and the Machine”) to the Instituto Tomie Ohtake in São Paulo on November 7th. With a wild purple perm and a signature growl, Brazil’s grand dame of samba will open her show with a reading of Martin Luther King’s poem “I Have a Dream” before rolling through highlights from her 60-year career. 

Officially 80—other reports put her age half a decade older—Ms Soares is still making bold new music. Her most recent album (her 34th overall) “A Mulher do Fim do Mundo” (“The Woman at the End of the World”) was a collaboration with a group of young electronic music producers from São Paulo’s “dirty samba” scene. At times poetic and always energetic, Ms Soares’ commanding voice sears the record. She sings of transsexuality and domestic violence, of racism, global warming and her mother, combining elements of rock, punk, reggae and rap. The album picked up a Latin Grammy and was listed in the New York Times’ top ten of the year in 2016,…Continue reading

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Redeeming Mary Magdalene

EVERY generation of artists has brought its own sensibilities and experiences to the depiction of canonical Christian stories. Giotto, an Italian painter, set Bible scenes in medieval Tuscany. Rembrandt gave his a hint of mercantile 17th-century Amsterdam. “Mary Magdalene” is similarly a retelling of some of the faith’s main events …

The mysterious reggaeton bangers of Mexico’s election

FOR evidence that modern democracy has lost its pep, look back to the age of cheery campaign jingles. The art form dominated elections from America to the Philippines after the second world war. Australian political parties used them well into the 1980s. It is tempting to believe that melodious campaigns …

The maddest March: at last, a 16-seed upsets a number one

THE line separating the improbable from the impossible is hard to pin down. The annual single-elimination tournament to crown the champion of North America’s National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in men’s basketball is known as “March Madness”, thanks to the steady diet of upsets it produces. Every year, a few …