Rosa de Ouro, a real treasure

The show that introduced Clementina to the world brought innovations in production, repertoire and casting

Nana Vaz de Castro
The concert Rosa de Ouro, produced by Hermínio Bello de Carvalho in 1965, became a vibrating movement for a music market that was dominated by rock and roll at the time. It represented a moment of cultural resistance in the first years of the military regime in Brazil. While bringing the veteran diva Araci Côrtes back into the scene and introducing Clementina, both backed up by the group comprised of Paulinho da Viola, Elton Medeiros, Anescar, Jair do Cavaquinho and Nelson Sargento (the Cicno Crioulos, or Five Niggers), Rosa de Ouro was a big hit, running for months on a theater in Rio and then touring the rest of the country.

Paulinho da Viola, who was also starting out as a musician, remembers: "I used to be as perplexed as her, because we were both barelybeginning. She used to have a mother-son relationship with us, and I was the youngest, I was 22 years-old and regarded as a boy". Elton Medeiros endorses: "She was one of the most generous persons I have ever met. She and her husband, Pé Grande. They were so caring, and that's so uncommon among artists. The care and the advice she used to give me still resound inside of me". Not surprisingly, Elton, Paulinho, Hermínio and many others that were around Clementina would only refer to her as "mom".

Clementina's entrance onto the stage during the Rosa de Ouro concert was truly triumphant. She would only appear on the second half of the show, following Araci Côrtes. The Cinco Crioulos would play a samba medley that finished with Elton's partido-alto Clementina, Cadê Você?. Then, the lights would go out and there were only drum beats, till the lighting started again, and the ebony-woman, Clementina, would appear in her white dress, singing Benguelê.

"There was a lot of talk about Rosa de Ouro, and then Clementina became surrounded by all these people. She was suddenly turned into a star", recalls Paulinho. In fact, in 1966 clementina recorded her first solo album, Clementina de Jesus, taveled to Senegal and to France.

Worldly Quelé
Since the adventure of an artistic living seemed to be working out, Clementina (nicknamed Quelé) resolved to leave behind her job as a maid (she had worked for a Portuguese couple for 20 years). She went out for the world. In Dakar, Clementina de Jesus, Ataulfo Alves and Elizeth Cardoso played concerts representing (respectively) the primitive, classical and modern music from Brazil. Paulinho and Elton went along as back up musicians and keep warm memories of the African audiences. "Clementina got the most intense standing ovation I ever saw during the whole time that I accompanied her. She had to play five encores. Which had never happened in Brazil", says Elton, recalling the first show, when she sang accompanied only by percusion and hand clap.

In Cannes, in 1966, Clementina (always with Pé Grande, Elton and Paulinho) performed with Elizeth, Zimbo Trio and Wilson Simonal. She spent a few days in Paris, where she met her old stage fellow, Turíbio Santos. "She spent about five days in Paris, and I was living there, so I showed her around. One day, I had to give a lesson, so I left Clementina, Pé Grande, Elton Medeiros and Paulinho da Viola in a bar, on the corner of Rue des Écoles and Boulevard St. Michel. When I returned, Clementina was on the street, in front of the bar, singing and dancing, and the guys were drumming around her. The French, of course, were staring", tells the guitarist.

Having started a new career when most workers are thinking of retiring, Clementina used to display an uncommon vitality during the first years as a professional singer. In 1967, she appeared in the second season of the show Rosa de Ouro 30 and made a new album. Next year, she remained in studio, recording Gente da Antiga 30, with Pixinguinha and João da Bahiana; then she did the show Mudando de Conversa 30, also turned into a disc, and Fala, Mangueira! 30, with Carlos Cachaça, Cartola, Nelson Cavaquinho and Odete Amaral.

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