Marlui Miranda in Angra dos Reis, Brazil

I came across the music of Marlui Miranda when I lived in Angra dos Reis (Brazil) and someone introduced me to her album Ihu 2 Kewere: Rezar: Prayer, a solemn mass celebrating the 400th anniversary of José de Anchieta, a 16th century Jesuit priest who went amongst the indigenous Tupi-speaking peoples of the Branco River basin in Brazil.

The cd is the product of two decades of research, experiments and arrangements on which Miranda introduces the old Tupi language and overlays them with elements of Christian liturgy. Native rhythms and ritual songs, and familiar fragments from the Latin mass sung in a mixture of Tupi, Portuguese and Latin display an uncommon oratorio for orchestra, jazz musicians, chorale, and indigenous South American players and vocalists. A compassionate reckoning of worlds, utterly unlike anything I heard before.

Kewere (Tupi language) to pray for a sick person, to free him from the spell, to heal his soul through the spirit.
Ihu (Kamayurá language) = sound, all that reaches the ear, including the sound of the spirits and the magical entities of the forest.
Rezar (Portuguese) = to pray

The Tupi people, Tupinambá, were one of the main ethnic groups of Brazilian indigenous people. Scholars believe they first settled in the Amazon rain forest, but 2,900 years ago they started to spread southward and gradually occupied the Atlantic coast. Ihu 2 Kewere: Rezar marks the 400th anniversary of Anchieta, a Canarian Jesuit missionary to Brazil in the second half of the 16th century. Anchieta, a highly influential figure in Brazil’s history in the 1st century after its discovery. He was a writer and poet, and is considered the first Brazilian writer.

José de Anchieta (1534 –1597) was a Canarian Jesuit missionary to Brazil in the second half of the 16th century. A highly influential figure in Brazil’s history in the 1st century after its discovery on April 22, 1500 by a Portuguese fleet commanded by Pedro Álvares Cabral, Anchieta was one of the founders of São Paulo, in 1554, and Rio de Janeiro, in 1565. He was a writer and poet, and is considered the first Brazilian writer.

Marlui Miranda (1949)
Born in Fortaleza but raised in Brasília (DC), she moved to Rio de Janeiro in the 70s where she studied classical guitar. Still in the 70s, she began researching and studying the native music of Brazil. Ihu 2 Kewere: Rezar: Prayer is the sequel to IHU Todas Os Sons, which I discovered in the reversed order but, which in my opinion, is equally interesting.