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Legendary Afro-Brazilian singer Margareth Menezes was recently appointed as Minister of Culture of the upcoming presidential cabinet of Luis Inácio Lula da Silva. On the morning of December 13 in Brasilia, the Bahian singer met with the President-elect in what she called an “exciting conversation for people who care about culture”.
“Agora é isso: a gente juntar todo mundo, a gente ouvir todo mundo, a gente levantar primeiro o Ministério e fazer a Cultura do Brasil no lugar que ela sempre merece de reconhecimento, que sempre foi reconhecida no mundo inteiro todas as áreas da cultura. As culturas populares, a gente reascender o caminho que foi criado”, celebrou Margareth em coletiva a imprensa.
“Now this is it. We bring everyone together, we listen to everyone, we prioritize the Ministry, and we recognize the culture of Brazil which has always influenced all areas of culture throughout the world. As popular cultures, we will rekindle the path created,” Margareth celebrated at a press conference.
The award-winning, multi-Grammy nominated singer/songwriter receives this distinction after a prolific career. The most popular record of the artist’s career is the song “Dandalunda” which caused the public to refer to her as the “Brazilian Aretha Franklin”.
Music entered Margareth’s life very early when she started singing in the church choir. Curiously enough, her artistic career actually began as an actress in 1985 and not as a singer. After a successful career as an actress she began to get more involved more professionally with music and starting to perform in bars in her city, even singing for an audience of 1,500 with the Orchestra of conductor Vivaldo da Conceição.
It was 1987 that Margareth recorded her first single that was released as an LP along with Djalma de Oliveira. The work entitled “Pharaoh (Davinci of Egypt)” sold more than 100,000 copies. From this success that the singer began to focus more on her musical career. Two albums of her career reached the top of the Billboard charts.
Another hit of the singer’s career was the live album “For you and Brazil and Homage to Samba-Reggae”. This record received nominations for both the Grammy Awards and the Latin Grammys. Recently, Margareth added acoustic pop sounds to her repitore and helping to poppularize an “afropop” style that unites African elements with Brazilian elements.
"I thank President Lula for his trust, being sure that it will be a great challenge and a huge responsibility. We will work tirelessly to rebuild the Culture of our country!", said the singer on Twitter.
The singer said that it will not be an easy task and asked for the support and strength of artists, mobilizers, directors and cultural agents from Brazil to reestablish the area. During his tenure as president, right wing fascist, Jair Bolsonaro eliminated the ministry of culture department, merging it with tourism.
"The richness of our culture feeds our soul and strengthens our identity as a nation. Culture reflects the strength, greatness and beauty of the Brazilian people. We'll need everyone!", she concluded.
Having a black woman in that position is very important. We need to recover an entire sector that has been destroyed in recent years. Count me in at the National Congress, my dear!
In 2004, she founded the Cultural Factory Association, aimed at combating child labor, sexual exploitation and human rights violations. Margareth also directs the Iaô Market, a cultural agency in Bahia, and is an ambassador of IOV-UNESCO, a group that seeks to foster and preserve cultural production.
Historically, The Ministry of Culture is lead by artists as a strategy implemented during Lula’s first government, when it had the global legendary singer Gilberto Gil as minister between 2003 and 2008. After the election , Lula announced the first five ministers of his future government: Fernando Haddad (Farm), Mauro Vieira (Foreign Affairs), Rui Costa (Civil House), Flávio Dino (Justice) and José Múcio (Defense). At the time, the his political party was criticized for the absence of women and blacks in the high echelon of his cabinet, a scenario that Lula promised to fix.