The Queer Music Revolution in Brazil
Meet 4 of the most impressive contemporary queer artists in Brazil.
Queer music has emerged from the shadows and stepped into the spotlight in Brazil. Is it challenging the definition of normal and breaking the old molds and stigmas of masculine, feminine, gay, straight, monogamous, polygamous and replacing them with non-binary definitions of musical styles.
Queer music in Brazil is different than in the USA with its tradition starting with jazz, 1890s, followed by the blues and Broadway musicals. Brazil did not have an open environment or freedom of expression due to its military dictatorship (1964 to 1985). It was only during the 1980s that artists were free to talk their mind. They weren’t able to openly express their sexuality, society was still very conservative, but at least the government wasn’t censoring the lyrics any longer. In fact, rock bands such as Legião Urbana were the ones to started mentioning aspects of homosexuality opening the way for today’s artists.
Even today, queer music artists in Brazil have to show courage beyond their art. They aren’t only amazing musicians but also engaged activists. According to the NGO Transgender Europe, out of the 2,190 transvestite and transgender deaths worldwide in 2016, 868 were in Brazil. That’s more than a third, making Brazil lead the tragic ranking of countries with more records of homicides of transgender people. In absolute numbers, Brazil has more than triple of the murders of second-place Mexico, where were recorded 256 deaths of transvestites and transgenders people. In Brazil,Every 19 hours an LGBT is killed or suicides victim of “LGBTphobia”. Another shameful record.
Where oppression reigns, resistance rises. The LGBTQ+ community in Brazil has been raising their voices in the past few years to reveal their struggles and claim their place in society. Their fight for visibility has never been as strong as today. Emerging artist such as Pabllo Vittar, Triz, Quebrada Queer, and Gloria Groove have dominated Brazil’s mainstream media and conquered their space as musicians, artists, influencers, and activists.
Here are some of Brazil’s leading queer musical artists.
1. Pabllo Vittar
Singer, songwriter, and drag queen Pabllo Vittar became famous with the song “Open-Bar”, a Portuguese-language version of Major Lazer’s song “Lean On”. With the clever new original lyrics, the video reached one million views on YouTube In less than four months.
Since then, Vittar has been part of international projects such as Major Lazer’s “Sua Cara”, with fellow Brazilian singer Anitta. The video was released in July 2017, and as of now, with 25 million views, ranks 10th on the list of most-viewed online videos in the first 24 hours. The song was nominated to the Latin Grammy Awards 2018, turning Pabllo into the first Grammy-nominated Drag Queen.
Pabllo Vittar also debuted in the “Social 50” ranking of Billboard, which weekly targets the most influential artists in social networks in the world. He also was sponsored by Coca-Cola in 2017, showing that his image goes far beyond Brazil.
From São Paulo, the 18-year-old rapper Triz identifies himself as a non-binary transgender. With homemade videos, Triz gained popularity through social media, first with his official video clip “Elevação Mental”, a partnership with Cesar Gananian after the film-maker listened to Triz’s work. The video now has more than 13 million views and shows Triz’s clever lyrics, MPB influence, and capabilities in rap.
Talking about the reality of people who are daily marginalized, forgotten and humiliated, Triz has given visibility to a portion of the population that still struggles to survive.
He confesses that his own discovery as a non-binary person was a painful process. “I never felt comfortable with my body or the clothes my mother bought for me. People calling me ‘her’ all the time, and that made me uncomfortable… When I found out about transgender people, about what it was like to be non-binary I cried. I said: ‘That’s it! That’s just it! “. At the age of 16, I began to claim myself as a non-binary.”
3. Quebrada Queer
Quebrada Queer was formed unintentionally. The hit song that names the group, Quebrada Queer, was supposed to be a collaboration project between friends. The project was so welcomed that transformed itself into the first LGBT rap group ever to exist. Six young gay artists from the poor parts of Sao Paulo who knew each other from the underground circuit become the Quebrada Queer sensation.
Murillo Zyess, Guigo, Harlley, Lucas Boombeat, Tchelo Gomez, and Apuke report in their lyrics what it’s like to be homosexual of black origin in the peripheries of Brazil. Apuke, the DJ, is the only female integrant. And a pioneer in the beatmaker market that is also another male-dominated area of music.
The positive outcomes of their job conflicts with non-stop prejudice. Guigo, a group member, started receiving death threats only a few hours after the video was posted. “We are living something so good, but at the same time, it is frightening because we go out on the street without knowing who these people are. The danger becomes imminent “
4. Gloria Groove
Daniel Garcia Felicidade Napoleão, better known as Gloria Groove, is a singer, songwriter, actor, rapper, actor and drag queen. He is known in the media since its childhood. His career started in 2002 when he participated as a cast member on the Magic Balloon production. He also was present in several tv shows and selected for a telenovela. But it was in 2016 with the track “Dona” that Gloria groove was born in the media.
With a career strongly linked to black music, rap, hip hop, and pop. Groove’s futuristic style articulates in favor of a new moment of pop music in Brazil, Her gestures clearly show hip hop influence that combined with a full female drag body breaks per complete gender rules. Groove uses her body to break the ghetto stereotypes while using hip hop as her most powerful weapon.
It’s incredible to see this amazing scenario blooming in a very infertile soil that is Brazil. Queer music is slowly entering Brazil’s mainstream media. Stating the queer is normal, and that prejudice is the problem, not the contrary. Historically, Brazilian music flourishes from its hindrances. I believe we can expect some mind blowing music coming from there.