There are very few opportunities for me to speak Portuguese in the work environment and, while some of my South African colleagues try to speak Portuguese, they fail dismally and it just isn’t the same.
So when the name Flavia Coelho (pictured) came up in a content plan meeting, I immediately said: “I’ll speak to her because I can do it in the tongue of my mother.”
It’s noon South African time and Flavia, who is based in France, answers her phone within seconds, “Ola Flavia, Eu sou Liam da África do Sul”, I say, to which she says, “Yes yes, I am so excited to speak to you,” and although there are distinct differences between Brazilian and other forms of Portuguese, our conversation flows.]
Flavia will be jetting down to Swaziland to perform at the annual Bushfire Festival later this month and then to South Africa to perform in Durban at the Zakifo Music Festival. “I am very very happy about coming to Swaziland for Bushfire. Even though I have been to Africa before, I have never been to Swaziland or even South Africa.
“I have a very special connection to Africa, so when Africa calls, I have no choice but to say yes, I always say that you can’t say no to Africa,” she said.
On what audiences can look forward to, she said lots of fun is the order of business: “For my band and I it’s all about having fun and we really do have fun on stage. I am extremely passionate about music and meeting new people, so I want to meet lots of them and allow them to enjoy my music. People will be introduced to authentic Brazilian music with world music flair,” she said.
Born in Rio de Janeiro, Flavia’s parents were from the Nordeste region of Brazil and she grew up in São Luís, in the state of Maranhão. From a young age, she always knew she wanted to make music and was initially influenced by reggae and Brazilian music like baile funk, which is a type of electronic music that originated in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro.
The singer, who last released an album in 2016, is also working on her new album. “You caught me at the right time, because I have just started writing music for my new album and I am very excited. I am not going to rush the process, because I am doing a lot of touring this year around the world, so the album will be out next year. When it comes to my singing, I will be singing about life, from love to friendship.
“I am deeply passionate about Brazil and life in Brazil is complicated at the moment, because the political climate is very worrying for all of us, so this album will be a very realistic one and encompass a lot,” she said.
Flavia will also be performing at this year’s Zakifo Music Festival, which takes place in Durban from May 25 - 27 and Mozambique.