There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
Her voice swells from gut-deep, rolls like a wave heading for shore, slivers away, then swells again. Since Virginia Rodrigues put her pipes behind it, the Carnaval music pumping into Salvador de Bahia’s crowded streets from blocos Afro like Ile Aye, Olodum, and Afrekete has never been the same. Celebrating the African-rooted carnaval on her sophomore recording effort, Nos, Rodrigues somehow transforms the music’s usual waist-breaking percussion jams into spiritual odes of sweet solemnity. In tracks like “Uma Historia de If,” her contralto lifts above the cellos, violins, and batucadas with an opera diva’s control. Who woulda thought? When Rodrigues was a child, her grandmother told her that “blacks have to be crazy to try to be someone in their life, to try to be famous.” Despite the warning, Rodrigues honed her singing skills in church choirs and Candomble ceremonies while supporting herself with infrequent wedding, theater, and manicure jobs. Nina Simone still in her head, she continued to dream of stardom until popular singer Caetano Veloso walked into one of Rodrigues’ rehearsals with Olodum. He was driven to tears by her rendition of the Latin dirge “Veronica” and encouraged her to produce an album of her own. That record, Sol Negro, and Nos have received such widespread praise, especially in America, that Rodrigues finally is something of a star. She offer us her remarkable voice live at 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 12, at George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium, 730 21st St. NW. $20. (202) 994-6800. (Ayesha Morris)