Dona Onete – Banzeiro

Album Review | Mais Um Discos | Review by Allan Wilkinson | Stars: 3/5

The voice of the feisty 78 year-old Brazilian singer Dona Onete takes you a little by surprise upon first hearing it.  There’s not the slightest glimmer of a shrinking violet here, instead we find a singer who certainly means business, in fact there’s almost a sense that Dona is making up for lost time.  Having given up any thought of being a singer when at the age of 22 the newly wed Amazonian was forced to silence that most distinctive voice for a spouse who didn’t much like it, Dona went on to pursue other fields of endeavour instead.  Having worked as a history teacher and campaigner for workers’ rights during the ensuing years, she eventually found herself retired and widowed and answered a call to return to the path that was probably always meant for her.  After releasing her debut album Feitiço Caboclo at the age of 73, Dona now assumes the mantle of ‘the grande dame of Amazonian song’ and holds back little lyrically with songs that address gay rights, indecent proposals, fishy-smelling waters “No Meio do Pitiú” and an assortment of different types of kiss; either ‘hot, frozen, sweet, salty, bold or abusive’.  Working within the rhythms of the traditional carimbo, samba, pagode, ska and bolero, Dona Onete is convincing throughout with some sumptuous musical arrangements intent on forcing listeners to their feet.