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Brazilian musician Brown wants action on poverty

July 18, 2005

By Daniel Flynn and Raquel Castillo

MADRID (Reuters) – Carnival king Carlinhos Brown, whose
band and social project Timbalada helped regenerate one of
Brazil’s poorest neighborhoods, is a true believer in the power
of music to fight poverty.

As the world remembers this month’s star-studded Live 8
concerts which urged leaders to tackle African poverty, Brown
called for record companies to accept their social
responsibilities and for fellow artists not to become mere
marketing tools.

Brown, who hails from the Candeal neighborhood of Brazil’s
northeastern city of Salvador de Bahia, said he planned to
return to fighting poverty in his home town once he completed a
tour bringing Brazilian Carnival to Spain.

“I need to dedicate myself to building a nursery school for
children up to six years old, to building a fashion workshop
for the women,” the multi-million selling artist told Reuters.

“I need to dedicate myself to eliminating poverty in
practice, not just talking,” said Brown, adding these project
would take around two years.

Brown, born in 1962, rose to fame as a percussionist
working with Brazilian stars such as Caetano Veloso in the
1980s. He has tried to return to the drum-based African
influences of the music of Brazil’s northeast.

Recent recordings such as “El Milagro de Candeal” and
“Carlinhos Brown es Carlito Marron” have explored African and
Latin influences, becoming international hits.

“In Salvador de Bahia, the African influence is very
strong. We think now is the time to change our ancestral roots,
in Africa. The world is ready to overcome poverty,” said Brown,
sweeping aside his long dreadlocks.

The artist, whose real name is Antonio Carlos Santos De
Freitas, adopted the name “Brown” in the 1970s as an
reaffirmation of his black identity: following Black Panther
leader H. Rap Brown and funk and soul legend James Brown.

“Record companies are necessary for the development of
music … but they need to change their way of thinking, to
focus on social equality, because they have the opportunity to
educate lots of people,” he said. “Artists should not just be
marketing machines!”

In a summer-long Spanish tour, Brown attracted around a
million people on the streets of Madrid last month for a
carnival.

“Carnival is above all a great means for unity,” he said.
“Carnival makes everyone the same, no-one knows who is a doctor
or a beggar, who has money or who has not.”

A beaming Brown said his next record project would be an
album of love songs, more melodic than his previous recordings
– expressing not just romantic love but passion for all
things.

“I am certain I will return to this world in another life.
So I am going to take care of things now,” Brown said. “There
is no such thing as death, just life, life, life.”




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