Céu Returns Home to Record Her First Live Album
To celebrate her tenth year in music, Brazil’s Céu performed in her home neighborhood in São Paulo to enthusiastic praise. The resulting 15-song, Live (Six Degrees Records) is a brilliant journey through her first three albums, all of which have helped make her an international star.
“The fans here in Brazil were always asking for a live show,” says Céu of the performance, which took place at the Centro Cultural Rio Verde in the center of the Vila Madalena neighborhood. “I wanted a place that captures the proximity and has the aesthetics of Caravana Sereia Bloom. Cozy, you know? I wanted the audience to feel as if they were watching in their home, feeling as if they were a part of the performance.”
With four Grammy nominations, numerous appearances on the Billboard charts (including reaching #1 on the World Music charts) and performing at Coachella all behind her, Live arrives at a perfect juncture in Céu’s career: as she readies her fourth studio album, while looking back and recognizing how beloved a live performer she’s become over her decade-long career.
Céu’s third album Caravana Sereia Bloom (which was dedicated to the open sky on long road trips) provides the live album with the opening ‘Falta Da Ar.’ She switches between English and Portuguese during the slow, melodic intro before the drums and bass kick into tempo—and the singer is off and running.
She stays in her sweet spot, between high energy and subdued & seductive—the sound that made her a star when Six Degrees released her debut worldwide in partnership with Starbuck’s Hear Music label—for the entire hour-plus of music. New guitar and keyboard textures are added to one of her few English-language songs, ‘Streets Bloom,’ without losing a bit of the sing-along, dubby vibe of the original.
While for this performance Céu replicated the blueprint of her Caravana tour, she used this opportunity to reinvigorate older material as well. ‘Malemolência,’ from her self-titled debut, is a mid-tempo gem of a song proving that Céu is a singer of syllables: she effortlessly glides across language to create harmonies, this being perhaps one of her most popular examples.
Also from her debut comes ‘Lenda’ and Live’s closer, ‘Rainha.’ Then there’s her cover of Bob Marley’s ‘Concrete Jungle.’ The original recording is minimal, acoustic; here guitarist Dustan Gallas gets to stretch out, while Lucas Martins effortlessly floats across Family Man Barrett’s unforgettable bass line. Reggae has long had its influence on Céu both personally and musically and her take on this Marley classic has long been a crowd favorite.
Live is as much about the band as it is about Céu herself. Determined to not merely replicate her records, the musician’s input makes this record a complete group effort. “I like to see the musicians from the band having ideas and exchanging material,” she says. “It means that they are involved with the work.”
The band—rounded out by drummer Bruno Buarque and DJ Marco—comes alive during a cover of Pepeu Gomes’s hit, ‘Mil e Uma Noites de Amor,’ which Céu has never recorded before. “It is a song that I simply love,” she says, “It’s part of my life. The way Pepeu plays the guitar is brilliant and so Brazilian. We started to perform it for a festival in Recife and never stopped.”
Céu’s second album, Vagarosa, is featured here with ‘Grains de Beauté,’ the crowd jumping right in to offer background vocal support. The audience is as much a part of this recording as anyone on stage. According to the singer, this is crucial for her success.
“The chemistry that happens between band members is a kind of alchemy that you can feel,” she says, ‘but to really make it happen I need to feel connected to the audience.”
That isn’t too hard a challenge in a city as musical as São Paulo, where she has lived her entire life. “Everybody comes to São Paulo—it’s the city that has more places to perform live and more opportunities than any other in Brazil.”
Now that her first three albums have been captured live, Céu is excited to return to the studio. While she’s not certain which musical direction she’ll be heading in, one thing is for sure: “What I know for now is that I am going back to the beats. Not just acoustic drums.”