Ney Matogrosso: ‘Brazil, U.S. live in an era of setbacks’

Jul 14, 2022, 9:17 PM | Updated: Jul 15, 2022, 10:17 am

FILE - Brazilian singer Ney Matogrosso performs at the Rock in Rio music festival in Rio de Janeiro...

FILE - Brazilian singer Ney Matogrosso performs at the Rock in Rio music festival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Sept. 18, 2015. Ney Matogrosso will perform at SummerStage in Central Park on July 17. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana, File)

(AP Photo/Felipe Dana, File)

              FILE - Brazilian singer Ney Matogrosso performs at the Rock in Rio music festival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Sept. 18, 2015.  Ney Matogrosso will perform at SummerStage in Central Park on July 17. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana, File)
              FILE - Brazilian singer Ney Matogrosso performs at the Rock in Rio music festival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Sept. 18, 2015.  Ney Matogrosso will perform at SummerStage in Central Park on July 17. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana, File)

SAO PAULO (AP) — Ney Matogrosso’s calm and paced voice when offstage makes it hard for anyone who doesn’t know his art to know he has been one of Brazil’s most rebellious and innovative artists for about 50 years.

Inspired by Japanese kabuki theater, Matogrosso painted his face in the early ’70s and performed flamboyant acts as the lead of the Secos e Molhados band — which was a mix of pop and rock ‘n’ roll, far from popular bossa nova and samba artists. Later as a prestigious solo singer, he did not hide his homosexuality on stage and became a beacon for many others who struggled.

Throughout his career, Matogrosso has stressed that Brazil’s creative spirit and ingenuity was key material for his music. But for some years now he has felt that his country is moving backward. And, he says, so is the United States, where the 80-year-old will perform in several cities this month.

On Sunday he will be one of the attractions of the Capital One City Parks Foundation SummerStage in New York.

“The gates of hell seem to be open for both nations,” Matogrosso told The Associated Press in a phone interview. He was referring to to the right-wing administration of Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, who has mocked minorities and will be up for reelection in October, and to former U.S. President Donald Trump, whose divisive influence still endures in American society, according to the singer.

“We see that radical trend in both countries at this moment. And it is still spreading all over the world. But I am sure that trend will one day wash away. Evolution is not a continuous, straight line. It is more like a spiral,” Matogrosso said. “I don’t feel I or my music have a duty to be optimistic, but I need to have that view, think something better will come about.”

Matogrosso’s latest record, “Nu Com Minha Música” (Naked With My Music), is titled after a song by Grammy Award winner Caetano Veloso. It is pervaded with optimism about the future of the singer’s country — something that doesn’t rhyme with a nation that has now been in a deep economic crisis for almost eight years, has the world’s second highest death count from COVID-19 and where more than 33 million people live in hunger.

“I see a clear path for my Brazil, despite the pain. A visionary vertigo that doesn’t need a follower. Naked with my music, other than that it is only love. I can see certain things from where I am,” the lyrics say, in a translation from Portuguese.

Matogrosso said he planned “Nu Com Minha Música” before Bolsonaro shot to power in 2019.

“One of the songs talks about so many people with hunger. I wonder whether that was a premonition; we didn’t have that scenario back then,” the singer said. “People starving in Brazil is really unforgivable. We can grow anything here.”

Matogrosso believes that despite the current tough days, the younger generations will see greater freedom.

“I was recently on a plane coming to Rio and two boys sat next to me. They were hand in hand, no doubt on their minds. I tried not to stare so I wouldn’t get in the middle of it. No one will tame kids like that,” Matogrosso said. “Shortly later I took a cab and saw another two touching their noses near the beach. These kids don’t have to be too concerned about saying they are gay. It is natural now.”

Asked whether he felt a little less rebellious than young fans, Matogrosso replied: “I was never keen on public demonstrations of affection. They have that need. I don’t. But I respect it.”

Matogrosso said he remains curious about sexuality, even more so after reading three books by Spanish transgender writer Paul B. Preciado.

“He is such a clear thinker, he expresses so well that it really got me into understanding more about transgender” people, the Brazilian said. “My interest comes from long ago. I remember decades ago I read a book that said transgender people would be born and these people should be embraced as a sign that humanity was evolving. I kept that on my mind since. We need to find ourselves and understand those next to us.”

Matogrosso said his schedule is busy until the end of the year in Brazil. That is not only because of old-time fans, but also because of youngsters who are keen on his work with the Secos e Molhados.

“I always knew what I wanted to be. But I didn’t know I was going to live until age 80, sing, dance the way I like,” Matogrosso said. “I feel blessed and happy to keep going and continue generating interest in people as I keep the same ideals; liberty for people as long as we respect one another.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


OpenAI's CEO Sam Altman, the founder of ChatGPT and creator of OpenAI gestures while speaking at Un...

Associated Press

ChatGPT maker downplays fears they could leave Europe over AI rules

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman on Friday downplayed worries that the ChatGPT maker could exit the European Union

1 day ago

File - Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai, left, and OpenAI CEO Sam Altman arrive to the White House for a ...

Associated Press

Regulators take aim at AI to protect consumers and workers

As concerns grow over increasingly powerful artificial intelligence systems like ChatGPT, the nation’s financial watchdog says it’s working to ensure that companies follow the law when they’re using AI.

3 days ago

FILE - A security surveillance camera is seen near the Microsoft office building in Beijing, July 2...

Associated Press

Microsoft: State-sponsored Chinese hackers could be laying groundwork for disruption

State-backed Chinese hackers have been targeting U.S. critical infrastructure and could be laying the technical groundwork for the potential disruption of critical communications between the U.S. and Asia during future crises, Microsoft said Wednesday.

4 days ago

FILE - President Joe Biden speaks in the East Room of the White House, May 17, 2023, in Washington....

Associated Press

White House unveils new efforts to guide federal research of AI

The White House on Tuesday announced new efforts to guide federally backed research on artificial intelligence

5 days ago

FILE - The Capitol stands in Washington D.C. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)Credit: ASSOCIATED...

Associated Press

What it would mean for the economy if the US defaults on its debt

If the debt crisis roiling Washington were eventually to send the United States crashing into recession, America’s economy would hardly sink alone.

6 days ago

FILE - Bryan Kohberger, left, looks toward his attorney, public defender Anne Taylor, right, during...

Associated Press

Judge enters not guilty pleas for suspect in stabbing deaths of 4 University of Idaho students

A judge entered not guilty pleas Monday for a man charged in the stabbing deaths of four University of Idaho students, setting the stage for a trial in which he could potentially face the death penalty.

7 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Internet Washington...

Major Internet Upgrade and Expansion Planned This Year in Washington State

Comcast is investing $280 million this year to offer multi-gigabit Internet speeds to more than four million locations.

Compassion International...

Brock Huard and Friends Rally Around The Fight for First Campaign

Professional athletes are teaming up to prevent infant mortality and empower women at risk in communities facing severe poverty.

Emergency Preparedness...

Prepare for the next disaster at the Emergency Preparedness Conference

Being prepared before the next emergency arrives is key to preserving businesses and organizations of many kinds.

SHIBA volunteer...

Volunteer to help people understand their Medicare options!

If you’re retired or getting ready to retire and looking for new ways to stay active, becoming a SHIBA volunteer could be for you!

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.

Comcast Ready for Business Fund...

Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

Ney Matogrosso: ‘Brazil, U.S. live in an era of setbacks’