On My Mind

Brazil, part one

July 17th, 2008 by Julie Silver

Rio, July 2008

Rio, July 2008

Back on the blog after far too long an absence.

It is 8AM Saturday the 12th of July, and my time in Rio de Janeiro is coming to an end.

I arrived on the 7th of July, 2008, but in truth, my voyage to South America began with a phone call in December of 2007. We had just arrived in New York after I had been on the road for the entire month doing concerts, mainly in the Southeast—Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Alabama. That tour culminated in several performances at the San Diego Convention center for over 5,500 Jewish leaders from all over North America, Israel and parts of Europe. It was incredibly validating—to stand before the Jewish Community and realize that 20 years of writing, traveling and recording have passed and this faithful community of learners and teachers continues to embrace my work. I am grateful beyond words for all of it.

While at that convention, I shook hands with more than the usual number of Latin Americans. There is little I enjoy more than speaking Spanish with native speakers. I left that conference with a tangible sense of hope that one day I might visit Buenos Aires or Montevideo, and bring my music to a Spanish speaking country. All I want to do is use the Spanish I became so fluent in while living in Spain, I thought. And although speaking with our beloved Sonya and Lillian in our home has become quite natural, I wanted to speak of more relevant things with like-minded people—preferably outside of Southern California.

So there I was in New York, preparing for our annual Chanukah/Christmas/Mary’s (real) Birthday party when I received a call from my good friend, Rabbi Len Thal who is the Senior Vice President of the Reform movement. He was sitting in his office in Manhattan with a woman named Miriam Vasserman, a Brazilian and Board Member for the World Union for Progressive Judaism in the South American region. In that moment he switched the call to speaker and I heard Miriam’s voice, I knew that my prayers had been answered. I was being invited to sing in Brazil.

Lenny gave me an overview of the conference that was to take place in July, and whenever Miriam chimed in I could hear the accent that had become so familiar to me over the years as a lover of Brazilian music. I remember the moment I first heard artists like Antonio Carlos Jobim , Caetano Veloso, and Milton Nascimiento. I felt like I had found long lost relatives. The music made me want to dig deeper and deeper, and head for the roots. I can’t say I’ll ever actually touch the roots of this rich, beautiful music, but reaching for them feels really good.

Come on back for more on my actual trip later.