IN THE TRUNK: “Funeral Do Lavrador” by Zelia Barbosa

"Funeral Do Lavrador" by Zelia BarbosaThis is one of those tracks that caught me right away. The LP, Brazil: Songs of Protest by singer Zelia Barbosa was released sometime in 1968 on Monitor Records. “Funeral Do Lavrador” is a breathtaking and beautiful song about a rough fact of life—work! The song comes from an LP about the poor and working class people of the Sertao or countryside and the Favela, in northeastern Brazil. There is very little information about the song’s vocalist and the musicians involved and most of what has been said is by other music collectors or DJ’s. The album has been archived by The Smithsonian Institute and DJ’s Kon & Amir used “Opinao” from the same album for their tune, “Off Track.”

The things that struck me as unique about this song were its deceiving tempo, the instrumentation, and the incredible vocal phrasing of Zelia. It starts off simple enough with guitar, bass, drums, and what sounds like a cowbell. Es una marcha, a march, a walk, or stroll that immediately grabbed my attention after putting this on my turntable seven years ago. Zelia’s words were code to me, since I do not speak Brazilian Portuguese, but the spirit and mood of the song is un-mistakable. Sombor, proud, tired, yet defiant. Picture Ms Barbosa at a man’s funeral who has literally worked himself to death as she chants phrases about where this man is laid to rest, with the song building until the last word of a eulogy has been spoken. Like this song, the rest of the LP is charged with subjects about workers, the land, and the perspective of every day people against injustice. Thanks to DJ Alma’s Soul Food Blog for the tracks. Listen up!

“Funeral Do Lavrador” taken from the album Brazil: Songs of Protest

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Parent, illustrator, author, owner of Come Bien Books, muralist, activist, and self-proclaimed believer in the power of music and its infinite sonic vibrations. Follow him @RobertTres


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  2. Shola

    May 31, 2010 at 6:53 pm

    great piece Rob – her voice does stick with you…like Omara from buena vista social club…keep it up!! new music always good times 🙂