Naná Vasconcelos (1944-2016)

“É ele, é ele. É um Brazil que Brazil não conhece.”

Naná Vasconcelos brought spirit and soul into everything he touched. He was close to Nature, close with animals, close with the people around him, close to the gods. As a result, he was close to himself. He listened carefully to his inner voice and had the courage to let that voice speak bravely.

His unique approach to the berimbau channeled his profound spirituality and everyone who heard him play felt it. His music came into my life in an unexpected and powerful way listening to his recordings in 1999. His passionate berimbau performances on his solo album Saudades (1980) struck a note deeply in my soul and I have been playing the berimbau and following its voice ever since.

In a 2007 interview in his home in Recife, Naná told me, “the berimbau is very spiritual. The sound of the berimbau comes from inside…the sound of the berimbau takes you to a calm place where you ban be quiet inside yourself. You can listen to your inner silence. Something of nature is in that sound.” Naná thought about the soul of the berimbau and worked with it for countless hours, until one day it spoke to him directly. From that point on, his voice became inseparable from the berimbau. He and the berimbau became one.

Mestre Naná’s example and spirit will live on in the work of Arcomusical. Our mission is to spread the joy of the berimbau musical bow. Arcomusical would not exist without the seeds of inspiration that Naná planted and gave to the world.

Viva Naná!


 – Gregory Beyer, Arcomusical Artistic Director, Personal Reflection, May 13, 2018

Naná and Greg playing berimbau in Naná’s home. Recife, 2007.

Naná’s Interview in Percussive Notes

Mestre Domingo, cadê seu chapeu?

Mestre Domingo, cadê seu chapeu?

O meu chapeu ‘tá no alto do ceu!

O meu chapeu é o alto do ceu!