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…and thus comes to the end the story of a singer

of pillory voice and airs of a master

tormented singer crioulo heir

to the name rename

of a ferocious master

and the slave’s charms

that bewitched the mistress of the house. [i]

Chico Buarque [i]


The same way as it happens in the lyric of a song, the statements at times reach a musical expression in an echo-like game, continuity and rupture established between the elements. We find Paulo César Pinheiro, lyricist for over 50 years, in creative spirit at the moment that he describes his ancestors – which enables the musician, used to work in partnership with lyricists, to view the part of the statement that follows below as the lyric of a song, of the kind that pops up with a title:



P. C. Pinheiro

I’m indigenous.

Straight line –

my grandma, my mother’s mother, was a Guarani indigenous,

here on Angra dos Reis shore.

There in Bracuí,

where the nuclear plants are,

exists a tribe in the jungle,

it is her group.

I grew up in her house.

She was tiny, tiny,

hair down almost to the leg,


she smoked a clay pipe,

with a bamboo straw

that she herself used to make.

She knew everything about the jungle

root, leaf, fruit, flower


sort of a witch

would grumble around the corners

I grew up in her house

so I possess this

very strong indigenous root

And I have the black

on the part of my father, a caboclo

from Paraíba, zambo

African and Amerindian mixture

— that’s why I have this strength inside me.


It’s truly in the blood


My mestizo blood is powerful!

It is meaningful.

00:00 and then music comes to me in this manner

01:11 I let myself be carried away


It is worth highlighting that those words, which could be a biographic report, show themes and expressions that are present in several song lyrics written by the poet, which reveals the interlacing between P.C.Pinheiro’s life and work – which legitimates [i] his position regarding the signs mobilized in his authorial production. This legitimacy provides an empiric relation with the creation process that is developed based on “not knowing” or on that knowing characterized by “letting yourself be carried away” by what every moment offers. Therefore, the poet describes a conduct according to which it is more likely to accept and trust in a poetic-musical solution than to construct consciously. A poet who has accomplished refined sensibility by developing it as a tool of daily work over the career, and who considers the creation process itself one of his dearest themes.

Following, are “five solos” in which in-depth thought is given to certain episodes along the dialogues with five of the interviewees so that a thorough dimension of each of the statements may be conveyed.

  1. At the same time unique and plural is the voice – and the torments – that results from the encounter of races as it happened in Brazil, considering the specificities of the optics of “reception” of the native Brazilian, of the traffic in the subaltern insertion imposed to the enslaved African, and of the Portuguese colonization system. The case narrated in this lyric, of an enslaved African who gets a white mistress of the house pregnant, is exceptional in that combination of gender and race for the statistics of our history; thus it serves us just as illustration and stimuli to the constant exercise of reflecting on “race-mix ideals and non-racialism” that are “as concrete as the wishes for purity and for racism”. Admitting that, on the one hand, “the conversion of ethnic symbols into national symbols not only hides a situation of racial domination but also makes the task to denounce it more difficult” and that, on the other hand, “the liberation of the individual from any racial determination, which in Brazil has become the official ideology for many years, and that informs the vision that many Brazilians still have today, are values that are becoming rarer and rarer in the contemporary world”, and that “it is worth taking those ideals seriously.” See FRY, Peter – Para Inglês Ver. “Feijoada e Soul Food: 25 anos depois”. In: ESTERCI, N., FRY, P. and GOLDENBERG, M. (orgs.) – Fazendo antropologia no Brasil. Rio de Janeiro, DP&A, 2001. p. 43, 52, and 53.


  2. For a melody of João Bosco.

  3. Paulo César Pinheiro – due to the content and relevance of his artistic production – is a key interviewee in the debate on the interlacing of the musicality of white, indigenous and black heritage in Brazil. Paulo César Pinheiro articulates those heritages with this study insofar as he has guitar-player Baden Powell – one of the focuses in this study – as inaugural partner in a career that led him to the position of one of the main poets in the Brazilian song. Amidst this discussion it is noteworthy that the voice of agents deeply linked to the black culture, but who have their skin relatively light brown (such as the case of Paulo César Pinheiro), has been questioned about their “legitimacy” as far as racial representativeness is concerned, by the black activism movement that, as a result of important accomplishments in those debates, reclaim the voice of representatives that bring direct progeny from the enslaved African in the color of their skin. It is worth mentioning that aware that this is a relational question, which depends on context – at least for some contexts – both Milton Nascimento and Gilberto Gil were thought of as likely interviewees in this study, but due to the busy agenda they have for being renowned artists, they could not attend the interviews for this study.