Saturday, July 9, 2011

Diogo Nogueira and the Phenomenon of Relative Stardom

I had the ideal concert experience when I saw Diogo Nogueira perform live at Lincoln Center as part of its MidsummerNight Swing series. I stood front row, center, got an autographed CD and took a picture with Diogo! If you are wondering who Diogo Nogueira is, you are part of the reason why I was able to get so close. 

Over the last four years Diogo Nogueira has climbed the ranks of the Brazilian Samaba scene to become a national icon. Admittedly, he had an advantage as the son of Samba artist João Nogeuria, but performing was not part of his original career path. He trained as a professional soccer player, playing two seasons for Cruzeiro, before an knee injury forced him to consider a career change. There is no doubt that his early exposure to music and performing through his father was invaluable to his recent success, but Diogo has been recognized for his talent and accomplishments independent of his dad. 

Diogo Nogueira at Lincoln Center
July, 1 2011
Diogo released his first album, Cidade de Samba, in 2007. In 2008, he composed a Samba enredo for Portela's Carnaval procession that placed the school in the top 5 for the first time in 10 years. His second album, Tô Fazendo a Minha Parte, was awarded a Latin Grammy in 2010 in the category of Best Samba/Pagode. Today, in addition to composing music and touring, Diogo hosts a weekly TV show, Samba na Gamboa, where he interviews and performs with some of the most famous living Samba composers in Brazil. 

If this hasn't convinced you of Diogo's celebrity status, just take my word for it. Diogo Nogeuira is kind of a big deal... in Brazil. Understandably, he hasn't achieved the same widespread recognition in the States as he has in his country of origin. One reason for this could be that, unlike other Latin artists, none of his songs are in English. And there just aren't that enough Portuguese speaking New Yorkers to fill Madison Square Garden's 15,000 seats when Diogo comes to town. The exception is Ivete Sangalo, who last September filled MSG with Brazilians who came to New York from all over the North East and even from Brazil to see her show and attend the Brazilian Day Festival that same weekend. I would love to see Diogo gather a North American following that more closely matches his the size of his Brazilian fan-base, but I admit I'm reluctant to give up my affordable, front row tickets and photo opps with the artist. 

Call me selfish. But you have to admit it's a great feeling to see one of your favorite artists perform 10 feet away from you and to be able to tell him in person after the show that you love his music and that studying his lyrics helped you learn Portuguese. Sitting in the nose bleed section of a stadium and watching the performance on the JumboTron just doesn't compare. 

Lucky for us, two more big name performers are coming to New York this summer. On July 24th, hip hop artist Marcelo D2 and rocker Pitty are playing a FREE show on Central Park's SummerStage. The show will kick off Brasil SummerFest, a full week of Brazilian musical performances all around Manhattan. Even if you aren't so familiar with the music, I suggest you don't pass up this opportunity. Next time these artists come to New York, they could be playing at the Garden.  

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