A world of music

A world of music

Ever fantasize about quitting your office job, leaving town and moving to the beaches of Brazil? Madeline Holly Sales did it. Speaking only Spanish, she lived there for three years, studied music and toured with a band.


“You begin by covering styles, but then you make the music your own,” says bossa nova and samba songstress Madeline Holly Sales of Beleza Brasil.

Sales went to Charlottesville High School and Duke. After college, she traveled in Mexico for a year, and then returned to D.C. to work for the Nature Conservancy. Here in town, she met Malian griot and musician Cheick Hamala Diabaté, who performed regularly at The Prism. She began singing with him in D.C., sometimes in English and sometimes in African dialects that she learned from him.

But Sales did not like the idea of being tied to a desk. She knew that she loved world music, and that she loved living close to the ocean. So in the fall of 2001, she packed up her belongings and moved to Salvador, the capital of the Bahia province of Brazil, known for its deep musical tradition. She began studying samba and bossa nova music, and singing both Brazilian and North American styles. She also started to study Afro-Peruvian percussion, and she was asked to be part of a band that included guitarist Humberto Sales. That band did so well that they spent six months touring outside of Brazil.

Sales says that, as a singer, “you begin by covering styles, but then you make the music your own.” And although she went to Brazil without a great deal of experience as a musician, she feels that she has become a vocalist.

Sales will appear with Humberto and their band Beleza Brasil at Saxx Saturday, June 7, for a multimedia event of music, photos and dance. The duo will have bass and drums backing up their usual show of guitar, vocal, percussion, and rhythm loops. Also, special guest dancer, Kristi O’Brien, will perform a short flamenco vignette as a preview to a Gravity Lounge show June 15th.

Humberto Sales has been working out a group of local drummers who are getting together to play in the big Carnaval style that is very popular in Bahia and quite recognizable here. That group will be on stage when Beleza Brasil opens for Son Quatro at Fridays After 5 at the Charlottesville Pavilion June 22.

Sales not only worked with Cheick Hamala during her time here, she also got to know Estela Knott and Dave Berzonsky. Knott and Berzonsky met in Charlottesville, and spent a good deal of time traveling through Latin America studying music. They formed their band, Lua, with the intention of exploring roots music from all of the Americas. For the last three years, they have been living in Berkeley, California, but they just recorded their second disc of music with some musicians and friends from Peru. The disc has an Afro-Peruvian feel melded with Berzonsky and Knott’s more Western songwriting. You can purchase the disc and watch for Lua when the couple returns to Charlottesville this fall.

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You can celebrate WTJU, the radio station that explores world music and all types of music, Saturday, June 2, at Satellite Ballroom. This weekend is Alumni Weekend, and the station expects a number of former DJs to be back in town for WTJU’s 50th Anniversary. And although this is an unofficial event, many current and former TJU jocks are expected to make the scene following a more formal event.

Station manager Charles Taylor says that former DJs and engineers are coming from as far away as California, and that a few DJs from the earliest days of the station, 1956-1959, should make the event. 

Happy hour begins at 7:30pm and the public will get a chance to rub elbows with colorful selectors from bygone eras. Then an early club show of music starts at 9pm, with bands that include current and former DJs. Maynard Sipe’s mid-1990s band Bombpop, with all original members plus guests, will perform. Gate Pratt’s group The Janks will play a set, as well as Dale Kutyna’s mid-1980s band Noman. John Beers of Happy Flowers fame was asked to play a set, but owing to a broken ankle, he is likely to join the music as a guest. RSVPs for the social hour are requested for planning purposes and may be directed to TJUcelebration@gmail.com along with any questions. Also, log onto www.wtju.net, and go to 50th Anniversary Event, and you can check out many details of the event, as well as audiophiles and photos from the past.

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