Seu Jorge: He’s kind of the Man

Think back to the Closing Ceremonies for the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Towards the end of the event, London passed the preverbal torch to Brazil, who introduced us to their future Olympic Games in 2016. Amongst elaborate costumes and a dude covered in light bulbs, my interest spiked when an intriguing character took the stage. “Who the hell is THAT!?” I thought. Matt Lauer failed to mention who he was, but I discovered that the guy dressed in the white pimp suit was none other than the famous Brazillian vocalist, Seu Jorge. He appears at 4:35 in the video below, and the pirated nature of the audio doesn’t do his baritone timbre justice.

I did some research, and it turns out Seu George is an interesting fellow: an actor, fashion designer, film buff, and musician. Not only did he play a role in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, he recorded the bulk of the soundtrack…acoustic David Bowie covers in Portuguese.  Of the soundtarck Bowie commented, “had Seu Jorge not recorded my songs in Portuguese I would never have heard this new level of beauty which he has imbued them with.”

The Life Aquatic album is worth checking out, but I’m a bigger fan of Jorge’s 2010 release, Seu Jorge & Almaz. Now I understand what Brazilian soul sounds like. A highlight is a cover of Roy Ayers’ “Everybody Loves the Sunshine” (circa 1976). The original is dated with cheesy synthesizers and 70’s funk, and forgive the analogy, but Jorge took the butter and turned it to cream. I could get lost in that voice for days. The tempo and mood hits me as a cloudy day sort of jam, but I’ve found it’s best on sunny days…taking it easy and soaking it all up.

Upon its release in 2010, Jorge promoted his album with a short, yet cinematic “anti-music video”. In addition to “Sunshine”, the haunting “Cirandar” and “The Model” are featured. With director Kahlil Joseph, they created a piece that feels timeless while promoting a new LP. I think it’s pretty cool marketing strategy paired with artistic expression, and it’s fun seeing Jorge with friends and family in an everyday setting.

It’s rare that I discover and connect with international artists despite the language barrier. And how appropriate to find Seu Jorge through the Olympic Games. Let’s go Rio 2016!

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