Listening to Mosaico, the hazily seductive debut of Rio resident, Beatrice Mason, is like embarking upon a lazy all-day Sunday carpet glide with exotic hovering points over Argentina, Paris, Italy, Rio…and Venus. Her voice conveys a relaxed natural beauty that lures you in like the aroma of your sauciest most favorite dish. As produced and arranged by Rodrigo Campello, Mosaico exquisitely illuminates the allure of Beatrice’s voice, singing tailor-made material from the cream of her country’s finest contemporary songwriters, and couching her in arrangements impeccably balanced between evocative acoustic instruments such as accordion, percussion, low-end woodwinds, piano and guitars over tasteful electronica pulses. The desired effect: pure free floating bliss for the ears…
Beatrice (pronounced “bee- -TRESE”) moves gracefully through 6 original songs and 5 re-workings of recent songs deserving of wider recognition. Thus the title Mosaico: a musical mosaic of styles and sounds with the common thread of emanating from her native Brasil. So captivating is this release that it recently debuted on America’s CMJ Top 40 chart at #19 thanks to her enchantingly percussive and tuba-kissed take on Suzanne Vega’s 1996 hit “Caramel” – the CD’s ONLY English language offering available in three sultry “Nite Life” and “Pop” remixes by Motown veteran Michael B. Sutton (Smokey Robinson, Michael Jackson). Other delights include the CD opener “Samba Minimo” which unfolds like morning in the Orient, the dreamy Cuba-originated “Algum Mistério (Some Kind of Mystery),” Ana Clara Horta’s piano samba “Cortejo,” and a duet version of Raphael Gemal’s “Canto Só” featuring guest vocalist Edu Krieger. An artful video was also lensed for her version of Vitor Ramil’s “Foi no mês que vem,” a mix of tango and electronica.
“I chose my producer because he brings a perfect balance as an arranger who works beautifully acoustically and also works well with techno,” Beatrice states. “Melody usually is the first thing to catch my ear,” the lady shares when it comes to her careful selection of repertoire, “but when I move on to the lyric, if the lyric doesn’t speak to me, I cannot do it! Lyrics are most important to me.”
Among the lyrical standouts is “Oração Blues” composed by Rodrigo Maranhão and Pedro Luís, and featuring the sharp high-timbre stings of tambourine and harmonica. “Oração means prayer,” Mason explains. “The guys that wrote it were a team that drifted apart so this old song sat in a drawer. It was originally written for big rock n’ roll singer in Brasil named Cássia Eller (a provocative lesbian artist once dubbed ‘The South American Melissa Etheridge’ who passed away in 2001 at age 39). She was about to record this song until the producer suggested she cut a different one. If she had done it, I could never have recorded it. It was perfect for me and this project.”
Beatrice Mason also holds the distinction of having a song specifically commissioned for her – a version of the classic Brazilian song, “A História de Lili Braun” (“The Story of Lili Braun,” by the greats Chico Buarque and Edu Lobo). “I love the song and I asked Dudu (Edu Krieger), jokingly, to write a “Lili Braun” for me. Two years later he sent me an email: ‘Listen, I made you a ‘Lilly BLONDE!’” Krieger also personally lyricized Marcelo Caldi’s music to create “O Tempo do Querer.” Beatrice shares, “When Marcelo first played the melody for me, it blew my mind, so beautiful it was, on the piano. I asked Edu to write the lyrics. He came back with this poetry: ‘Me without you is like carnival without percussion, Brasil without football, Eurídice – my sister’s name – without Orpheus.’”
Among Beatrice’s all-time favorite composers is Oscar-winner Jorge Drexler, the first Uruguayan to ever win an Academy Award for writing the song “Al Otro Lado del Río” from the film “The Motorcycle Diaries.” Picking just one song from his was very, very hard,” Beatrice confesses. “I had seven I wanted to do! I chose ‘Madre Tierra’ because it’s very catchy, light and happy. Soon I plan to record an entire album of Jorge’s work. He is amazing to me.” Such is the passion Beatrice has for fine art, fine music and simpatico geography.
Beatrice Mason and her sister Eurídice were born and raised in Rio to a mother of German descent and a father of Italian descent. Beatrice began singing at age 6 along with her sister in many musical choirs including one led by her mother. Classical music filled the family home, and both girls were encouraged to learn music theory and play musical instruments. Beatrice excelled in three keys of the wind instrument called a recorder as well as flute, led a Baroque trio and won many awards. Beatrice was also exposed to Brasilian popular music thanks to the family housekeeper, Alzira, whose radio fed her a constant diet of Roberto Carlos, Caetano Veloso, Elis Regina, Nara Leão and Maria Betânia, among many others.
At age 16, Beatrice’s father – a very serious minded man – insisted she and Eurídice pursue more standard careers so they could be financially independent. Beatrice, fluent in English chose the field of law in which she endeavored in Brasil and the United States. While living in New York City she went to clubs and concerts to see artists as far reaching as Stanley Jordan, Sting and The Brand New Heavies. Music never ceased tugging her heart. Eventually, the stress of dealing with mergers and acquisitions got the best of her. She took a sabbatical to have a baby and found singing to be extremely cathartic during her pregnancy. First returning to her classical roots then being led into sacred music by a vocal coach, Mason found her voice to be lovelier than ever. Her formal vocal instruction included classical lessons with Vera Canto e Mello and popular singing with Paula Santoro and Felipe Abreu.
Dipping her toes back into musical waters two years after the birth of her son, Beatrice presented a show she titled “Coração Tranqüilo” at the traditional Rio de Janeiro venue of Mistura Fina. Uncomfortable with that program’s emphasis on Brasilian rhythms, she showcased her softer side in “Alumbramento.” Insisting upon off-the-beaten-path material she calls “b-sides,” Beatrice next dug into the fertile well of modern Brazilian composers to fill her debut album, Mosaico.
Sponsored by a Brasilian telecommunications company, Beatrice’s very own label, Lilly Blonde, took her show on the road to several major cities in Brasil garnering massive media and strong reviews, one of which reads, “…what a surprise: there is plenty of good taste in the careful choices of the lady, who presents a debut album that is classical and contemporary at the same time.” Two months after attending WOMEX 2011 (World Music Expo), Mason was invited to perform at the 2012 edition of the MIDEM, the world’s largest international trade show that takes place every year in Cannes, France. Mason played to an enthusiastic and packed house. She also staged a tribute show to the late folk rock poet Nick Drake back in Brasil later in 2012.
Beatrice Mason is currently recording her second solo CD, to be released in August, 2013. She also has another recording project, in which she partners with her friend João Cavalcanti to sing the songs by South American composers Jorge Drexler, Vitor Ramil and Kevin Johansen. João Cavalcanti is a very accomplished young singer/songwriter from Brasil, and the son of Lenine, one of the most popular and respected singer/songwriters in the country.
Ms. Mason has also toured and performed in France, Sweden and Germany, in two different occasions.
“I want to be a musical bridge between contemporary Brasil at its very best and the rest of the world,” Beatrice Mason