Anne Simoni
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Anne Simoni

Austin, Texas, United States | INDIE

Austin, Texas, United States | INDIE
Band World Singer/Songwriter

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Artist: Anne Simoni
Album: Minas Terra
Reviewed by Alex Henderson


Brazil is the largest country in South America, and a country so huge is bound to have a wide variety of music. Indeed, there are many different rhythms and musical styles to be found in Brazil, including samba, bossa nova, choro, forró, baião, axé, embolada, frevo, tropicália (also known as tropicalismo), maracatu and sertaneja (which is arguably the closest thing Brazil has to Mexican ranchera). So if a vocalist is offering Brazilian pop, there are quite a few different possibilities when it comes to influences and inspirations. On Minas Terra, Brazilian singer/songwriter Anne Simoni brings a variety of influences to her MPB (which, in Portuguese, standards for música popular brasileira or Brazilian popular music). During the course of this 41-minute CD, Simoni incorporates everything from samba on “Unidos da Lavra” and "Samba da Preguiça" to baião on "Papagaio" to bossa nova on “Back to Brazil” and the caressing “Espera.” And there are American influences as well on this album; like so many MPB vocalists, Simoni’s music expresses influences by jazz, soul and funk. Simoni’s funkiness on the more uptempo selections, however, is not in-your-face or an aggressive, but rather, a subtle, smooth, restrained funkiness. She won’t shout to get one’s attention, although her use of understatement doesn’t prevent her from being expressive on charming tracks such as “Este Sentimento,” “Longe de Mim,” “Áquas de Cambuquira” and “Retrato da Cidade.”

Minas Terra was a very hands-on project for Simoni, a native of the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais who has lived in the United States since 1998. In addition to producing Minas Terra, Simoni wrote or co-wrote all of the songs, played some guitar and helped with the mixing and arranging. She obviously had a clear idea of what she wanted when she entered the studio. Of course, taking a hands-on approach doesn’t mean much if an album’s material is weak or flawed, but Simoni’s material is consistently appealing whether she is writing in her native Portuguese or English. Actually, only two of the CDs’s 11 tracks are in English, “Choose to Believe” and “Back to Brazil.” When Simoni switches from Portuguese to English, her vocals do hint at the jazzy British R&B/pop singer Sade, but still sound Brazilian. There are certainly plenty of Brazilian artists who can be cited as influences on this album. As a vocalist, Simoni shows a fondness for Elis Regina, Maria Bethânia, Astrud Gilberto and Ana Carolina; as a songwriter, her inspirations include, among others, Nascimento, Ivan Lins, Djavan, Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso.

And as a producer, Simoni does herself a big favor by going for a more organic production style. A little electronic programming is used here and there on Minas Terra, but Simoni is wise enough to avoid using it extensively. Instead, she uses technology sparingly. Traditional acoustic Brazilian instruments, in fact, are much more prominent than synthesizers or samplers, and the use of Brazilian instruments like the cavaquinho, the pandeiro and the cuíca not only add a lot to the album rhythmically, but they also help to give it a more natural and earthy type of sound. Technology, one could say, is a side dish on Minas Terra but is far from the main course.

Simoni is not a groundbreaking singer/songwriter, but she is definitely an enjoyable and expressive one. Minas Terra is a consistently absorbing CD from this talented Minas Gerais native.


Reviewed by Alex Henderson
Rating: 4 Stars (out of 5)
- ReviewYou -


Anne Simoni performs the samba she wrote for The Austin Samba School - Acadêmicos da Ópera. - KEYE - We are Austin


“Anne Simoni & Amor Tropical have performed at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts twice so far and they have not disappointed anyone. Their music-making is very professional, simultaneously fun, soothing, mesmerizing, and infectious enough that everyone began to dance in their seats (and some in the aisles). You could feel Simoni's Brazilian roots seeping through her voice. We will definitely bring them back.”

Thomas T. Warner - Programming Manager at The kimmel Center for The Performing Arts


- Presenter Testemonial


We were delighted to present Anne Simoni in 2006. Please forgive the sports metaphor, but she showed up on time, dressed up, and ready to play. And when you think about it, success doesn’t require any more than doing that. Anne Simoni interprets Brazilian music with passion and flair, and both of those qualities were in evidence in her performance here. I would highly recommend her to any presenter!”
Rick Bryant, Executive Director, Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts.
- Presenter Testemonial


“With a repertoire ranging from standards, to contemporary MPB, samba, bossa nova, and other exotic rhythms of Brazil, Anne Simoni is an extremely versatile performer possessing a distinct musical personality of range and depth.”
Peter Marino - Programming Director at Villanova University Concert Series
- Presenter Testemonial


“A fine introduction into the world of Brazilian music, Anne Simoni and her band performed a unique blend of music featuring traditional instrumentation like the cavaquinho and percussion including tantã, pandeiro, surdo, tamborim and repique. It was a wonderful evening of accessible and authentic Brazilian music! Thanks again, Anne!
Thomas T. Warner— Director of Programming, The Kimmel Center for The Performing Arts
- Presenter Testemonial


"Anne, It was terrific having you at the event on Saturday. From the Brazilian ballads to the samba beats, the crowd was really into your performance. Your second set, in particular, had people on their feet heating up the dance floor. Thank you"
Roy A. Wilbur - Associate Managing Director for Public Engagement at Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts
University of Pennsylvania

- Presenter Testemonial


Anne Simoni
Minas Terra
Independent CP 0010 (2009)
Time: 41'07"



Reviewed by Egídio Leitão
July 2009

Philadelphia-based Anne Simoni hails from Minas Gerais in central Brazil. With admitted influences from Caetano Veloso, Milton Nascimento, Gilberto Gil and Maria Bethânia, Simoni's debut album Minas Terra is as diverse musically as her influences. There is a little bit of samba, baião and bossa nova in the eleven original tracks she penned for the album. Her songs draw from everything Brazilian, be it the geography, the flora or the fauna.

Starting her musical education at eight years old, Anne took piano lessons before finally getting a classical guitar at age 15. Initially she self-taught the guitar, but later she moved to Belo Horizonte (the capital city of Minas Gerais), and took private guitar lessons. A law graduate, Anne moved to the U.S. in 1998 in order to study international law. It was inevitable, though, that music would speak louder and lead Anne to her musical passion.

Produced by Simoni herself, Minas Terra has a strong and varied band backing up Anne's solid vocals. Sometimes also playing the guitar, Anne still finds room to showcase her talents as a percussionist with a surdo or triangle. Some of the musicians featured here include Edgar de Almeida (electric/bass guitar, cavaquinho, claves, synthesizer), Dickson Goulart (cuíca), Zé Bruno (percussion), Darnell Hillary (drums) and several others both from Brazil and the U.S. Anne's voice at times will remind you of the strength you hear in Ana Carolina's timbre, and just like Ana Carolina, Anne gives us pleasing vocals.

The opening track, "Águas de Cambuquira" introduces us to a beautiful area in Minas Gerais known as the water circuit. It just so happens that Cambuquira is Anne's hometown. There are several waterfalls and parks in the area with different water types. The song lyrics are simple and tell the story of the region directly in a nice samba featuring Almeida on cavaquinho and Goulart on cuíca. Jumping quickly from central Brazil to the northeast, "Papagaio" is a vigorous baião covering the life of parrots that leave Brazil going abroad and "even having to learn English." The lyrics innocence is very endearing and fit quite well the purity found in the simple life of northeast Brazil. Never forgetting her homeland of Minas Gerais, the title track, "Minas Terra," longs for the home left behind and the dreams envisioned ahead. It is a beautiful modern toada, very typical to the Minas area. Keyboards and sampler programming were produced and performed here by Carlos Yutaka (from Sergio Mendes band).

All songs are performed in Portuguese with the exception of "Back to Brazil" and "Choose to Believe." Of the two, the latter will probably feel more relaxed to the listener, but it is also the least Brazilian in the repertoire. Nevertheless, the strong lyrics make up for that distraction.

Though Anne's vocals are strong, in some ballads, she shines smoothly with tenderness, as in "Espera" and "Longe de Mim." Anne is comfortable doing rock ballads ("Retrato da Cidade") as well as straight sambas. "Samba da Preguiça" is a cadenced samba again featuring Yutaka's programming, whereas "Unidos da Lavra" could easily be used by any samba school in Rio de Janeiro.

You can learn more about the artist and her music by visiting her web site. Here she talks about the CD and performs a few sample songs.

- musicabrasileira.org


Discography

Minas Terra - 2009
Alice in AustinLand - Samba Enredo of Carnaval Austin 2011. Single released - 2011

Photos

Bio


Anne Simoni’s Debut CD
Minas Terra

Brazilian singer and songwriter Anne Simoni’s exquisite debut CD displays a mastery of complex Brazilian rhythms including samba, bossa nova and baiao. Evoking a serene sense of place, Simoni’s songs are both biographical and inspirational, tracking the twists and turns of her life defined by love, loss, hope and renewal.

Many songs reflect the artist’s longing for her ancestral homeland, including the bewitching melody, “Minas Terra,” the album’s title song. Recalling her province, Minas Gerais (Land of the precious stone and gold mines), the song is a moving and tender anthem to the home she left behind, a sentiment echoed in the bossa nova ”Back to Brazil” (sung in English), in which she muses upon her return. The gentle samba “Áquas de Cambuquira,” conjures the natural fountains of mineral water found in the city of Cambuquira, the artist’s birthplace.

Powerful and haunting romantic ballads like “Este Sentimento” (This feeling) and “Longe de Mim” (Far from me) sung in Simoni’s signature seductive, sultry tone, express a yearning for emotional connection. These are counterpoised by infectious, upbeat danceable rhythms like the baiao tune “Papagaio,” about a Brazilian parrot locked in a cage, destined to learn English rather than its native Portuguese, and “Unidos da Lavra,” a samba evocative of the authentic carnival parade.

Featuring Sergio Mendes musicians Carlos Yutaka on keyboards, Kleber Jorge on guitar and Mike Shapiro on drums, and arrangements by Brazilian guitarist Edgar de Almeida, Philadelphians Dan Kleiman and Joe Mass, Minas Terra , offers a rich blend of tropical rhythms infused by lyrics that deftly traverse emotional terrains of exuberance and desire.

In November 2009, Anne Simoni won the 14th US Songwriting Competition first prize in World category , and 3rd prize overall with her song "Papagaio".

In March 2010, performs at a USA Songwriting Competition winners showcase off SXSW in Austin, and other local performances. Anne Simoni's album has been getting radio airplay at KUT FM 90.5 in Austin and KRTU JAZZ FM 91.7 in San Antonio,TX among many other radio stations in the USA, EUROPE and BRAZIL.

In July 2010, Anne Simoni is nominated for the Los Angeles Music Awards - AAA Artist of the Year and performed at the legendary Whiskey A GoGo, in West Hollywood.

She recently moved to Austin, TX to start working on her new album and form a new band to perform locally and internationally.

In October 2010, Anne Simoni is voted the recipient of the AAA Artist of the Year Award at the 20th Los Angeles Independent Music Awards and will be attending the Red Carpet event at the Paramount Theater in Hollywood on November 18th 2010.