Ney Matogrosso: ‘Brazil, U.S. live in an era of setbacks’

Jul 15, 2022, 9:17 AM | Updated: Jul 16, 2022, 3:00 pm
FILE - Brazilian singer Ney Matogrosso performs at the Rock in Rio music festival in Rio de Janeiro...

FILE - Brazilian singer Ney Matogrosso performs at the Rock in Rio music festival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Sept. 18, 2015. Ney Matogrosso will perform at SummerStage in Central Park on July 17. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana, File)

(AP Photo/Felipe Dana, File)

SAO PAULO (AP) — Ney Matogrosso’s calm and paced voice when offstage makes it hard for anyone who doesn’t know his art to know he has been one of Brazil’s most rebellious and innovative artists for about 50 years.

Inspired by Japanese kabuki theater, Matogrosso painted his face in the early ’70s and performed flamboyant acts as the lead of the Secos e Molhados band — which was a mix of pop and rock ‘n’ roll, far from popular bossa nova and samba artists. Later as a prestigious solo singer, he did not hide his homosexuality on stage and became a beacon for many others who struggled.

Throughout his career, Matogrosso has stressed that Brazil’s creative spirit and ingenuity was key material for his music. But for some years now he has felt that his country is moving backward. And, he says, so is the United States, where the 80-year-old will perform in several cities this month.

On Sunday he will be one of the attractions of the Capital One City Parks Foundation SummerStage in New York.

“The gates of hell seem to be open for both nations,” Matogrosso told The Associated Press in a phone interview. He was referring to to the right-wing administration of Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, who has mocked minorities and will be up for reelection in October, and to former U.S. President Donald Trump, whose divisive influence still endures in American society, according to the singer.

“We see that radical trend in both countries at this moment. And it is still spreading all over the world. But I am sure that trend will one day wash away. Evolution is not a continuous, straight line. It is more like a spiral,” Matogrosso said. “I don’t feel I or my music have a duty to be optimistic, but I need to have that view, think something better will come about.”

Matogrosso’s latest record, “Nu Com Minha Música” (Naked With My Music), is titled after a song by Grammy Award winner Caetano Veloso. It is pervaded with optimism about the future of the singer’s country — something that doesn’t rhyme with a nation that has now been in a deep economic crisis for almost eight years, has the world’s second highest death count from COVID-19 and where more than 33 million people live in hunger.

“I see a clear path for my Brazil, despite the pain. A visionary vertigo that doesn’t need a follower. Naked with my music, other than that it is only love. I can see certain things from where I am,” the lyrics say, in a translation from Portuguese.

Matogrosso said he planned “Nu Com Minha Música” before Bolsonaro shot to power in 2019.

“One of the songs talks about so many people with hunger. I wonder whether that was a premonition; we didn’t have that scenario back then,” the singer said. “People starving in Brazil is really unforgivable. We can grow anything here.”

Matogrosso believes that despite the current tough days, the younger generations will see greater freedom.

“I was recently on a plane coming to Rio and two boys sat next to me. They were hand in hand, no doubt on their minds. I tried not to stare so I wouldn’t get in the middle of it. No one will tame kids like that,” Matogrosso said. “Shortly later I took a cab and saw another two touching their noses near the beach. These kids don’t have to be too concerned about saying they are gay. It is natural now.”

Asked whether he felt a little less rebellious than young fans, Matogrosso replied: “I was never keen on public demonstrations of affection. They have that need. I don’t. But I respect it.”

Matogrosso said he remains curious about sexuality, even more so after reading three books by Spanish transgender writer Paul B. Preciado.

“He is such a clear thinker, he expresses so well that it really got me into understanding more about transgender” people, the Brazilian said. “My interest comes from long ago. I remember decades ago I read a book that said transgender people would be born and these people should be embraced as a sign that humanity was evolving. I kept that on my mind since. We need to find ourselves and understand those next to us.”

Matogrosso said his schedule is busy until the end of the year in Brazil. That is not only because of old-time fans, but also because of youngsters who are keen on his work with the Secos e Molhados.

“I always knew what I wanted to be. But I didn’t know I was going to live until age 80, sing, dance the way I like,” Matogrosso said. “I feel blessed and happy to keep going and continue generating interest in people as I keep the same ideals; liberty for people as long as we respect one another.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

              FILE - Brazilian singer Ney Matogrosso performs at the Rock in Rio music festival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Sept. 18, 2015.  Ney Matogrosso will perform at SummerStage in Central Park on July 17. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana, File)
              FILE - Brazilian singer Ney Matogrosso performs at the Rock in Rio music festival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Sept. 18, 2015.  Ney Matogrosso will perform at SummerStage in Central Park on July 17. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana, File)


Haitian migrant Gerson Solay, 28, carries his daughter, Bianca, as he and his family cross into Can...
Associated Press

US, Canada to end loophole that allows asylum-seekers to move between countries

President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday announced a plan to close a loophole to an immigration agreement.
2 days ago
Expert skateboarder Di'Orr Greenwood, an artist born and raised in the Navajo Nation in Arizona and...
Associated Press

Indigenous skateboard art featured on new stamps unveiled at Phoenix skate park

The Postal Service unveiled the “Art of the Skateboard" stamps at a Phoenix skate park, featuring designs from Indigenous artists.
2 days ago
(Facebook Photo/City of San Luis, Arizona)...
Associated Press

San Luis authorities receive complaints about 911 calls going across border

Authorities in San Luis say they are receiving more complaints about 911 calls mistakenly going across the border.
8 days ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Associated Press

Daylight saving time begins in most of US this weekend

No time change is observed in Hawaii, most of Arizona, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Marianas.
16 days ago
Mexican army soldiers prepare a search mission for four U.S. citizens kidnapped by gunmen in Matamo...
Associated Press

How the 4 abducted Americans in Mexico were located

The anonymous tip that led Mexican authorities to a remote shack where four abducted Americans were held described armed men and blindfolds.
16 days ago
Tom Brundy points to a newly built irrigation canal on one of the fields at his farm Tuesday, Feb. ...
Associated Press

Southwest farmers reluctant to idle farmland to save water

There is a growing sense that fallowing will have to be part of the solution to the increasingly desperate drought in the West.
23 days ago

Sponsored Articles

(Photo: OCD & Anxiety Treatment Center)...

Here’s what you need to know about OCD and where to find help

It's fair to say that most people know what obsessive-compulsive spectrum disorders generally are, but there's a lot more information than meets the eye about a mental health diagnosis that affects about one in every 100 adults in the United States.
(Desert Institute for Spine Care in Arizona Photo)...
Desert Institute for Spine Care in Arizona

5 common causes for chronic neck pain

Neck pain can debilitate one’s daily routine, yet 80% of people experience it in their lives and 20%-50% deal with it annually.
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet edges out cable for everyday use

In a world where technology drives so much of our daily lives, a lack of high-speed internet can be a major issue.
Ney Matogrosso: ‘Brazil, U.S. live in an era of setbacks’