Carlinhos Brown: Musician and Community Activist



Photo by Secretaria de Cultura do Estado da Bahia, via Flickr

Ryan Geertsma and Robin Basselin look at Carlinhos Brown. His music is very popular, but his community work is just as important to him.

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Transcript


Voice 1

Welcome to Spotlight. I'm Ryan Geertsma.

Voice 2

And I'm Robin Basselin. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1

That is the music of Carlinhos Brown. Carlinhos is a musician from Salvador, Brazil. He is full of energy. Some wonder why Carlinhos is so happy. When the news organization Times Online asked him this question, Carlinhos said,

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"People ask me if I am smiling when I rise in the morning. My mouth hurts with smiling so much, because I have got music. It is a good way of living, making music. It's a gift from God. I have it on loan."

Voice 2

His words express how he understands his musical gifts. These beliefs also influence how Carlinhos lives his life. And they continue to influence the work he does in his community.

Voice 1

Today's Spotlight is on Carlinhos Brown, his music, and his work in Candeal.

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When Carlinhos was born, his parents named him Antonio Carlos Santos de Freitas. He lived in Candeal, an area in Salvador in the country of Brazil. The people in Candeal did not have much money. Neither did his family. But Candeal was beautiful and peaceful. Carlinhos remembers the many fruit trees and growing things.

Voice 1

Even as a young child, Carlinhos enjoyed music. He would drum out songs as he worked. He would often hit things like water containers to create interesting sounds. Then he combined those sounds together to create a new beat.

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Over time Carlinhos became a great musician. In fact, he is now one of Brazil's most famous musicians. Carlinhos sings, writes his own songs, and plays percussion and other musical instruments. He is famous for his special sound. He achieved this sound by combining different kinds of music, like rock music and African music. Carlinhos claims his music has roots in the Brazilian Carnival - a four day party in Brazil with lots of food, music, and dancing.

Voice 1

While Carlinhos became a better musician, Candeal was growing too. However, because Candeal was growing so quickly, it became very dirty and very poor. Human waste flowed through the streets. Children often played in the same streets. These streets were not smooth or finished. So rain would move waste and wet dirt down the roads, sometimes even into people's homes.

Voice 2

The condition of Candeal concerned Carlinhos. He decided to use his famous name to improve the area. But he did not want to do it alone. He wanted the people of Candeal to be involved. He wanted them to decide what was necessary, and how to do it. This way the people could protect all the improvements and start other new improvements without him.

Voice 1

The first thing Carlinhos did was start a music school. He did not receive much education. But because of this, he believes education is very important. This school provides new chances for poor children who did not have the chance to attend school before. Carlinhos named the school Pracatum, after the sound some of his instruments make. He hopes this school will give students a new attitude about life. He hopes they will see how they can change their own situations.

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But Carlinhos did not stop with the school. Next, he started a community organization called Pracatum Social Action Association. He encouraged the community members of Candeal to join the group. This group would work to improve the living conditions of Candeal.

Voice 1

As a representative of this community organization, Carlinhos talks to community and world leaders. One of the first achievements of the organization was getting the roads finished. This success was a great encouragement to the people of Candeal. Maria is a member of Carlinhos' community organization. She has lived in Candeal for 38 years. She spoke with Fernanda Santos, a journalist with the New York Times newspaper. She told of her excitement about the organization's success.

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"The day my street was paved, I knew that we could successfully do anything."

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Pracatum Social Action Association also persuaded the health department to open Candeal's first health center. It has worked with the city government to remove human waste from the streets. And it has also completed work to improve homes and fix a public structure for water. These improvements make a big difference to the people of Candeal. The people of Candeal have been greatly encouraged by these developments. Recently, the group also fixed the football fields where the local children play.

Voice 1

Mario Sena lives in Candeal. He was one of the first students in the Pracatum Music School, and today he is the head of the school's music studio. He is proud of the changes in Candeal. He told Fernanda Santos how the people of Candeal are reacting to the changes.

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"People used to look for ways to move out of here because of what this place was like. Now, no one wants to leave. Candeal is poor, but it has honor."

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Since then Carlinhos has done many other things to develop the community of Candeal. He started a community-based building and construction organization. This organization identifies the needs of people in Candeal. Then it creates goals and organizes the process.

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More recently, the Pracatum school began a short fashion class. It is a five month program. Pracatum Fashion trains students in the work of making and designing clothes and other things in the field of fashion.

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Carlinhos Brown is happy with his success. He told Fernanda Santos,

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Poverty is not an excuse for anything. Poverty is an opportunity."

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Brown wanted the people of Candeal to be proud of the place they live. He did not want people to only see the poverty in Candeal. Instead, he wanted people to see the work of community members in improving Candeal.

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But Carlinhos Brown is not done. Now he is an ambassador for Countdown 2010 Save Biodiversity. This program encourages the protection and care of the earth. As an ambassador, Carlinhos will work to develop public knowledge about biodiversity. He will encourage individuals to do what they can to protect the environment. Once again, he is using his famous name to improve the world.

Voice 1

The writer of this program was Courtney Schutt. The producers were Josh DeGroot and Mark Drenth. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted and voiced by Spotlight. You can find this program and others on our website www.radioenglish.net. This program is called "Carlinhos Brown: Musician and Community Activist."

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You can also find Spotlight on Facebook at facebook.com/spotlightradio. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye!

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Question:

Have you heard the music from Carlinhos Brown? What is your favorite kind of music?

Comments


Learning Everything's avatar
Learning Everything
said on June 25, 2014

GOD bless you. Thanks.

Avatar Spotlight
Honneur
said on August 01, 2019

I know Carlinhos Brown very well. He is an admirable person and is an educated and comprehensive man, spite the fact that he is a famous musician in Brazil. I don’t like the kind of music Carlinhos Brown makes, but I can not ignore his value in Brazilian music.