Who Was the Inventor of Bossa Nova?

Depending on the source, the inventors/creators of Bossa Nova music were Pixinguinha, Antonio Carlos Jobim and Joao Gilberto, or an unnamed group of musicians who met nightly at the apartment of Nara Leao’s parents during the mid-1950s, or at the Cantina do Cesar, or at the Plaza nightclub. So how did all this confusion arise, and how can we figure out what actually happened?

Let’s draw a timeline to see what happened, and when: To begin, PIXINGUINHA (aka Alfredo da Rocha Viana, Jr.) was born in 1897 in Rio de Janeiro. He was a composer, arranger, flautist and saxophonist. Pixinguinha began a modern form of the 19th century Brazilian musical genre, choro, by combining it with jazz, ragtime, Afro-Brazillian rhythms, and large bands. He began developing this new sound in the mid-1920s. One of the reasons his music became so popular was because his sound was discovered and made available at a time when use of the radio was becoming in vogue. In addition, his band played live music at cinemas showing silent movies. Eventually, his band’s music became more popular than the films they were accompanying so their performances were moved to the lobby of the theatre! His music gained popularity with upper-class Brazilians who appreciated his modernization of indigenous music. However, Pixinguinha was criticized because he and three other of his band members were Black. He was also criticized because it was felt that his music was influenced too strongly by Europe and the United States.

Pixinguinha’s first European tour was in 1921. It was so popular that he and his band remained in Paris, playing at the Scheherazade cabaret for six months. In Paris, Pixinguinha began to add new complex arrangements to his compositions; adding trombone, piano, drum kits and percussion. He also selected the saxophone as his instrument of choice. By the mid-1950s, the popularity of choro had declined, however, not before strongly influencing the compositions of Antonio Carlos Jobim. Pixinguinha passed away in 1973. His birthday, April 23, was designated Brazil’s National Day of Choro in 2000. It has become an annual holiday.

ANTONIO CARLOS Brasileiro de Almeida JOBIM (aka TOM JOBIM)–(1927-1994) was a Brazilian songwriter, composer, arranger, singer and pianist/guitarist. Jobim was influenced by Pixinguinha, as well as French composers Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel. His popularity began to rise in 1956 when he teamed with Vinicius de Moraes to write the music for the play, Orfeu de Conceicao. In 1959, the play was being made into a film, Black Orpheus. However, the producer requested that Jobim and Moraes write all new music. Because Moraes was out of the country serving as a foreign diplomat, they were forced to write the songs over the phone. Due to the logistical and time constraints, only three songs were written; however, their teaming proved wildly successful and Jobim and Moraes went on to write several songs together later.

Jobim’s international success was cemented when he teamed with Stan Getz as well as Joao & Astrud Gilberto for two albums: “Getz/Gilberto”; and “Getz/Gilberto” Volume 2. In 1965, Getz/Gilberto won four Grammy Awards, including Record of the Year for “The Girl from Ipanema”.

Prior to his death in 1994, Jobim was the principal artist or major contributor on 42 albums. His compositions have been interpreted by artists of very diverse backgrounds, and Jobim has left an indelible imprint on Jazz music. The Rio de Janeiro International Airport has been renamed Galeao-Antonio Carlos Jobim International in his honor.

JOAO GILBERTO do Prado de Oliviera was born in Juazeiro, Bahia, Brazil in 1931. From childhood, Gilberto had a passion for music, which did not sit well with his elders. However, when he was 14, he was given a guitar by a close family friend. He practiced to the exclusion of anything else, and a year later, was the leader of a local popular boy’s band. In 1950, when he was 19, Gilberto had become quite popular and was invited to become lead singer of the band, “Garotas da Lua”. Gilberto moved to Rio de Janeiro to join them. Gilberto had never developed the discipline to live on his own in an urban area with popular musicians. He was often late to gigs, or did not show up at all. However, he had such a charming personality that he remained friends with several members of the group although after one year he was no longer welcome to sing with them. Following his departure from the group at the age of 20, almost no one would hire him for nearly seven years.

Nearing the end of his slump, he went to Diamantina, Brazil and moved in with his sister and her husband for eight months. He spent most of his time in the bathroom practicing on his guitar and singing because he felt the acoustics in that room were especially conducive to the new style of music he was developing. The style involved vocalizing less through the mouth than through the nose, and adjusting the tempo of the words to match the tempo on the guitar. Gilberto was sent to his hometown to be cared for by his father because his sister was concerned about his constant seclusion. His music was ridiculed by his father and his boyhood friends. As a result, he would hide and play near the banks of the Sao Francisco River. Gilberto reports that he wrote the first bossa nova song, “Bim Bom”, watching laundresses while swaying their hips and balancing loads of clothes on their heads.

In late 1956, Gilberto was ready and returned to Rio de Janeiro to introduce his new music. He renewed and made new contacts for a solid year. However, the tide was turned when he introduced his new music to Jobim. He was immediately attracted to the samba beat that Gilberto had simplified and applied it to the new types of harmonies he himself had been developing with a song he had written the previous year with Moraes entitled, “Chega de Saudade”. It was to become Gilberto’s signature recording although its original popularity came with fits and starts. Eventually, the single took off in Brazil and Gilberto followed up with three albums. In 1961, Jobim and Gilberto were discovered by Charlie Byrd who introduced the music to Stan Getz.

Getz recorded five extremely popular bossa nova albums (the most popular of all time being “Getz/Gilberto”. To date, Gilberto has made 34 recordings, most of which are now available on CD. Ah, Gilberto is such an eccentric genius, but the stories of Gilberto’s eccentricities are more lovingly portrayed by Daniella Thompson, so check out her article, attached: http://daniellathompson.com/Texts/Brazzil/Plain_Joao.htm.

And finally, NARA LEAO, (1942-1989) was called “The Muse of Bossa Nova”. She was exposed to the Brazilian music revolution as a teenager when she met Antonio Carlos Jobim, Joao Gilberto and Vinicius de Moraes in the late-1950s. Leao was a popular bossa nova artist AFTER it was developed by Jobim and Gilberto, and she only performed part-time. Once she completed her studies, her full-time job was in journalism. However, Leao began to sing political lyrics when a military dictatorship took over Brazil in the mid-1960s. In the 1970s, Leao took an extended break from music to devote full time to her family and further studies. In 1979, Leao discovered she had an inoperable brain tumor and increased her musical output, producing 11 albums between 1979 and 1989.

Hopefully, my article has answered some questions about some absolutely delicious musicians, who truly changed the depth and breadth of world music today. But you won’t know unless you check out the music! Enjoy…

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Sweet 16 – a Celebration of Those Things Past and Those Still to Come

Progressively we are seeing the age at which parents provide a major party celebration and gathering reduce. Traditionally it was at twenty one years that the ‘big’ party was thrown but has now all but been replaced by the eighteenth birthday party being the major milestone social gathering. This is related to a social shift which, among other changes, has provided a shift towards earlier integration of the individual into adult society combined with an increase in the amount of disposable income available to younger people. Although this is still a ‘rights of passage’ event, the party itself is now aimed more towards friends than family.

With the social shift towards the earlier integration of youths into adulthood has come a downward shift in the age for the family celebration and it is against this background that we see the rise in the popularity of the ‘Sweet 16’ birthday party albeit that it is primarily focused on female family members. With the move towards the eighteenth party being a celebration amongst friends rather than family, Sweet 16 parties have grown from being simple family gatherings and tea parties into being full-on themed events.

This article hopes to identify some of the most popular themed party ideas and provide the reader with some examples for decoration and costumes. As with the planning process for any party there are some issues that need to be considered at the outset as these could have a bearing on the final theme selected;

Intended date for the party: The date of the party will give you the season and the expected weather conditions. The idea here is to theme a party towards the overall comfort of those attending and therefore a beach party in the middle of winter although a fun concept will require considerably more planning and decoration (and heating) than one during the summer.

Interests: The theme has to reflect the interests of the party hostess or if that doesn’t provide a workable theme then at least something they like. There is little value in throwing a party that only the adults enjoy.

Invites: Get them out early and theme them to the overall party. Be imaginative, invites don’t just have to be on paper of card, write or print your invite on a sticky label and attach it to something unusual, say folded over the arms of a cheap pair of 50’s style glasses for a 50’s style party. This starts a level of intrigue amongst your guests about what is to come. Be sure to include details of what you expect from your guests; if you don’t tell them to arrive in fancy dress, then don’t be upset if they don’t.

The following suggestions should provide some possible ides for your party;

Hollywood Awards Celebration party theme. This is a great theme for a great number of celebrations and you can find extended details in another article; “Hollywood Awards Party – A few Tips for a Star Spangled Night” from this series. Based on budget availability and number of guests, it would be possible for the young hostess to hold her own mini film awards ceremony giving awards or tokens to those attending. Dress could be formal and sophisticated (a firm favorite with adults) any venue is easily decorated from the wide selection of available decorations.

1950’s theme party. Still a great party theme thanks to the longevity of the film “Grease”. With the decorations available in shops and on-line, it is easy to turn the venue into a soda shop complete with d├ęcor and inflatable juke box – assuming that you don’t have the real thing. Ice cream served in sundae glasses and Coke or Pepsi in bottles and fancy dress costumes, poodle skirts, soda shop uniforms, leather jackets etc are readily available in store or on-line including 50’s styled wigs and accessories. 50’s music is still easily available and a compilation CD would be best.

Taking this theme further, what about showing the film either indoors or outside projected onto a big screen (see TV and Sound Hire Equipment) and providing tons of popcorn, pop and tissues for the guests?

60’s/70’s Disco theme. Although this theme has never gone away, it has seen a remergence probably with the interest in the Austin Powers films. Whatever the reason, a 70’s disco provides great scope for costume selection all with exaggerated afro wigs and can be linked to a great number of films ‘Saturday Night Fever’ etc. The theme can be treated in a number of ways; either showing the film similar to the 50’s theme above, or by holding an actual disco. Clearly there are sub-themes that can be spun off but still with a 60’s/70’s feel; Austin Powers (requires boys!), Hippy Chick; Flower Power. Decoration must include the disco ball and lights but these should be provided with the Disco.

Luau themed party. Again this is another very popular party theme allowing great expression in costume choice. Very relaxed party style which can require the most work to ensure that there is enough to do. You can find further details on this in the related article; “Luau Party – simple tips to make it a fantastic event”. Great theme if it is possible to hold the party outdoors which also allows a family BBQ to be integrated into the overall theme.

Las Vegas. There is a popular theme and decorations are readily available. There will be a separate article on this but I would consider this a more adult theme – but, hey it’s your choice. It is possible to recreate the feel of Vegas using many of the accessories used to theme the room for a Hollywood Awards party, and clearly there are blockbuster movies to suit. Costumes can be either sophisticated or casual as desired.

Unexpected party themes. Why not catch your guests off guard with an unexpected theme. If the party falls on a night with a full moon why not go for a Halloween Party, or if it’s the 25th of any month, or the middle of summer, why not select a Christmas theme? If they know you can’t sing, hire a karaoke and hold a ‘Pop Idol’ competition (just warn the neighbors).

Finding a suitable theme for a Sweet 16 party is a great game and there are no rules, so simply select a theme that suits you as an individual and go with it. Just remember; Have Fun.

Growing Healthy Hair Naturally

In this article, I am going to cover some of the basic techniques that you can use to help your hair grow naturally. The techniques are commonly known to many and the idea behind the article is to help it serve as a reminder for people to help them grow healthy hair to reduce hair loss.

So what are the things you need to do to ensure that you grow long healthy hair:

Tip 1.

Wash your hair at least once a week. The reason why this is very important is that in order to maintain a healthy scalp, your scalp must be clean. Its that simple. This is especially true if you do a lot of working out. Washing regularly gets rid of the dirt and salty sweat that accumulates in the scalp.

Tip 2

This is related to tip 1. Rinse your hair between work outs. This important to stop the salt that accumulates from the sweat during a workout from stripping away the essential oils that are required by your hair.

Tip 3

Detangle your hair in the shower. This is important for people with tighter curls. Many people who have tight curl growth pattern can find it very difficult to comb hair when dry and aggressive combing or brushing can result in unwanted damage.  Use a shower comb from your local store that can cost less than $1 and after conditioning comb your hair detangle it. Detangle your curls by combing at the bottom of your hair and combing up closer to your scalp.

Tip 4

Deep condition your hair at least once a month. This is again important to prepare the hair for any hair strengtheners and gives hair extra care that is not always given to it during a regular wash.

Tip 5

Keep your hair moisturized – This is particularly important for people of Afro Caribbean origin as their hair does not benefit from the natural oils in the same way that is seen by Caucasians. The growth pattern of Afro Caribbean people’s hair restricts the essential oils from reaching the ends of the hair strands so applying extra moisturizers helps.

This is also good for people with dry hair. Even being out in the sun and wind damages your hair so it is important to moisturize not only to get rid of the dryness in the hair but also prevent split ends from forming at the ends of hair.

4 No-Fail Tips To Get Your Hair To Grow Faster

The question of ‘how can I get my hair to grow faster’ is probably the most desired inquiry among girls, women, and perhaps even men. Some people’s hair appears to grow faster then others. But the truth is that, on average, everyone’s hair grows between 1/4 and 1/2 of an inch per month. We also shed hair daily. Of course, the curl pattern of the hair, the health of it, and the maintenance practices make a difference with how much of that growth we maintain. This article is going to share with you 4 tips that are guaranteed to get your hair to grow faster.

The first tip is to trim regularly. You’re probably thinking, “You’ve got to be kidding. How can I get my hair to grow faster if you’re suggesting cutting it.” You need to ensure that your hair is healthy, with no split ends. For the natural hair wearers, be sure to get your hair cut above the demarcation line. That’s the location where your natural hair and the chemically-treated hair meet. Be sure that you’ve cut above that line to ensure your natural hair is healthy and completely chemical-free. Through the course of styling, the ends can become damaged so you want to trim it regularly.

Speaking of styling, the second tip includes using the correct utensils for your hair. This includes everything from combs, brushes, scarves/bonnets, and headbands to shampoos, conditioners, heated appliances. When selecting styling utensils, you want to be sure to stay away from ones that will cut, rip or tear your hair. There are combs that are made in molds and the mold lines can rip or tear your hair while you’re combing. NEVER use a comb with broken teeth. Be sure to use boar bristle brushes that aren’t too abrasive. For hair coverings, you want to use satin. Other materials are abrasive and suck the moisture right out of your hair. For your shampoos and conditioners, you want to use ones that are moisturizing without the harsh chemicals. If you’re really serious about growing your hair out as fast as possible, don’t put any heat directly on your hair. The most you should do is use a hooded dryer. Any of the direct heating appliances, like blow dryers, flat irons, or curling irons put undo stress on your hair and the heat will cause it to weaken and break off, even if you incorporate thermal protection products.

The third tip pertains directly to the styles you choose for your hair. Protective styles are the best. These include: twists, braids, cornrows, afros, and wash ‘n’ go. Twists include 2-strand, 1-strand, or coils. With these, you start with wet or damp hair and style. Braids and cornrows are great for protection, as well. Be sure that your stylist doesn’t braid or cornrow it too tight. This will put tension on the edges, causing them to break off, which would be counterproductive for your hair growing efforts. Afros and wash ‘n’ go styles are basically the same. These can be achieved from undoing your twists or braids and finger styling the hair. Or you can wet it, add some styling/moisturizing products, and let it air dry. There are many variations to these. The possibilities are endless and limited only by your imagination and boldness.

Last, but certainly not least, is the importance of water – outside and inside. A common misconception is that water dries out your hair. Nothing could be further from the truth. The only true and complete moisturizer is water. Nothing moisturizes you or your hair more than water will. It is important to drink at least 8 glasses of water per day to keep your body (and hair) hydrated from the inside. In addition, using water on your hair will help you with styling and moisturizing. It is advantageous to rinse your hair in the morning, style it, then leave it to dry. If getting your whole head wet everyday doesn’t fit into your styling routine, you can spritz it with a bottle of water infused with oil. Extra virgin olive oil is great for virtually all human uses because its’ pH matches ours very closely. Its not heavy so it wont weigh your hair down. It’s great for the scalp because it soaks in quickly.

Diabetes in the Black Community

Diabetes is a concerning health issue amongst the African and Afro-Caribbean community. It is an autoimmune disease related to poor control of the body’s blood sugar levels.

When we eat, food is broken down into sugars which provide a source of energy for our bodies. With the help of the hormone insulin, these sugars are absorbed by the body’s cells. Diabetes occurs when the blood sugar level is high and the demand for insulin cannot be met.

There are two types of diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2. Sufferers of Type 1 diabetes do not produce any insulin at all, whereas the cells of Type 2 sufferers don’t respond to the insulin being produced.

According to the results of the National Health Survey 2004, African and Afro-Caribbean people are three times more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than any other ethnic group.

The National Health Survey also noted that out of all serious diseases, Type 2 diabetes had the strongest link with obesity. Obesity demands the body to produce more insulin and, if not managed correctly with a balanced diet and exercise, it can eventually lead to diabetes. Diet and exercise will not only reduce the risk of developing diabetes, but is also good for overall health and obesity.

A balanced diet should include all the relevant nutrients and vitamins from the five major food groups:

Meats, fish, eggs and beans: the foods in this group are fantastic sources of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals.

Dairy: dairy products are a great source of protein and calcium. There are low-fat alternatives to most dairy products, meaning you can eat these foods without having to worry about gaining unhealthy weight.

Fruits and vegetables: fruits and vegetables provide our bodies with vitamins, minerals and complex carbohydrates.

Starchy foods: This food group contains bread, rice, pasta and potatoes. These are excellent sources of carbohydrates and fibre. Try to choose whole meal and wholegrain products where possible, as they contain more fibre and vitamins than the white processed varieties.

Fats and sugars: It is important to choose what types of fats and sugars we consume daily. Unsaturated fats, otherwise known as ‘healthy fats’, are good for our bodies. They give us the essential fatty acids we need and can help lower our cholesterol. Fish, vegetable and olive oils are great sources of unsaturated fats, as are nuts and seeds. Try to avoid the saturated fats in cakes, biscuits, cheese and butter. Saturated fats raise your cholesterol and contribute to unhealthy weight gain.

Maintaining a healthy diet sounds simple enough but let’s be honest – we are all guilty of grabbing a portion of fast food every once in a while for conveniences sake. Although this isn’t too bad (in moderation) it is still important that we get essential vitamins and minerals on a daily basis. A one-a-day multivitamin is an ideal supplement that will ensure that you get the right amount of the right vitamins every day.

Additionally, there are some vitamins, called antioxidants, which could help manage and fight diabetes. These antioxidants are vitamin C, vitamin E and beta-carotene. Antioxidants fight dangerous atoms, known as ‘free radicals’, which cause cellular damage that can lead to diabetes, as well as cancer and heart disease.

Vitamin D deficiency is also believed to be a key factor in the development of diabetes. Most people of African and Caribbean descent will need to increase their Vitamin D intake through supplements because of the lack of sunshine in the UK.


The NHS recommends that adults between the ages of 19-64 should either; do at least two and a half hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week, or an hour and a half of high-intensity exercise every week.

We recommend exercises of moderate-intensity including brisk walking, jogging and cycling, whereas high-intensity exercises might be aerobics, martial arts, skipping and playing sports.

You should also engage in muscle-strengthening exercises on at least two days out of the week. This can include weight lifting, resistance training, and bodyweight exercises – like pushups and sit-ups or yoga. For women using resistance band can be a great way to strengthen and tone your body as part of a weight loss program.

We will be setting out more exercise and nutritional advice in later articles to get you in shape for summer. In the meantime try to eat as many of the food groups that we mention above to start you off on the road to improved health.

For more information and advice on fitness and nutrition please visit our website http://www.snsnutrition.co.uk