In 1968 Mom and I would ride in the family car (with its 8 track player), singing Mas Que Nada at the top of our lungs. Sergio Mendes and Brazil 66 became my early influence in Brazilian music. Later when I met Roger, my husband, I discovered that he was into Brazilian music too. In fact, he had recently returned from a tour in Brazil with Ray Conniff. Roger had brought a bunch of great recordings back with him. Those recordings influenced me to start writing in 1988 after we moved to Nashville.
Then in 1991, Roger and I started a Brazilian instrumental group, Ritmos Picantes, to play standards as well as my new originals. We played at The Sutler in Melrose, The Owls Nest on Elliston, Exit Inn, and several universities. Denis Solee played sax and also co-wrote a few tunes with me. Mark Christian was our first guitarist, then Pete Huttlinger and Mario DaSilva. Dale Armstrong was our first drummer, then Chris Brown. Dann Sherrill and Farrell Morris were the percussionists with Roger Spencer on bass. Several singers made guest appearances, including Donna McElroy, Annie Sellick, Teree McCormick, and Jeff Hall.
Roger and I had a Tascam 16-track analog recorder in our home studio, so that’s where we started recording songs for “Welcome to Brazil” with Lori Mechem and Ritmos Picantes. We programmed some of the drums, percussion and keyboards and tracked guitars, bass, sax and other percussion. After we had the basic tracks to all 9 original songs, we decided to replace the electronic piano with an acoustic. I had been teaching a Studio Instrumentalist Class at Belmont University, so we scheduled an off night there to track the piano. As it turned out, we were able to track the drums as well, which made the album sound way more authentic. James Waddell, one of the student engineers from my studio class, agreed to track and mix the album, and he did a brilliant job.
Artwork came next. Roger, originally from Terre Haute, right down the road from Brazil, Indiana, remembered the “Welcome to Brazil” sign at the city limits. When we returned home for Christmas, we took a side trip and snapped the picture, which became the cover of the CD, and Melissa Delgado did the graphic design. The Owl’s Nest hosted our CD release party. We were delighted to get the opportunity to do a special interview for a national syndicated radio show called, “The Brazilian Hour” hosted by Sergio Mielniczenko. He interviewed me for a 20-minute segment of a one hour show, which was really exciting.
I have loved Ritmos Picantes from the time we started it in 1991 to this day. There is just nothing better than to hear your original music being played so well. Additionally, the band has recorded 2 other projects, “Brazilian Christmas” and “Return to Ipanema,” for the Green Hills Music label.
I will always be thankful for my dear friends and band mates for their help in recording “Welcome to Brazil.”