Friday, 29 August 2014

Zero Freitas, a record collector

This is the story of José Roberto Alves Freitas, a Brazilian businessman and musician who's become the world's biggest vinyl record collector. He's known as Zero Freitas and have been buying all kinds of vinyl records, sheet-music and all sorts of knick-knacks related to the music industry for some time. He was spotted by the New York Times when he acquired a lot of records worth more than 3 million dollars. It took a while to find out who the real person was. The Times approached Zero Freitas who finally decided he didn't want to keep in the shadows anymore but show his true colours.

Paul Mawhinney, a former music-store owner in Pittsburgh-PA, spent more than 40 years amassing a collection of some 3 million LPs and 45 rpms, many of them bargain-bin rejects that had been thoroughly forgotten. The world's indifference, he believed, made even the most neglected records precious: music that hadn't been transferred to digital files would vanish forever unless someone bought his collection and preserved it.

Mawhinney spent about 2 decades trying to find someone who agreed. He struck a deal for $28.5 million in the late 1990s with the Internet retailer CDNow, he says, but the sale of his collection fell through when the dot-com bubble started to quiver. He contacted the Library of Congress, but negotiations fizzled. In 2008 he auctioned the collection on eBay for $3,002,150, but the winning bidder turned out to be an unsuspecting Irishman who said his account had been hacked.

Then in 2013, a friend of Mawhinney's pointed him toward a classified ad in the back of Billboard magazine:

RECORD COLLECTIONS. We BUY any record collection. Any style of music. We pay HIGHER prices than anyone else.

In 2013 Autumn, 8 empty semi-trailers, each 16 meters long, arrived outside Mawhinney's warehouse in Pittsburgh. The convoy left, heavy with vinyl. Mawhinney never met the buyer. 'I don't know a thing about him - nothing,' Mawhinney told me. 'I just know all the records were shipped to Brazil.'

Just weeks before, 28 August 2013, Murray Gershenz, one of the most celebrated collectors on the West Coast and owner of the Music Man Murray record-store in Los Angeles, died of a heart attack at 91. For years, he, too, had been shopping his collection around, hoping it might end up in a museum or a public library. 'That hasn't worked out,' The Los Angeles Times reported in 2010, 'so his next stop could be the Dumpster.' But in his final months, Gershenz agreed to sell his entire collection to an anonymous buyer. 'A man came in with money, enough money,' his son, Irving Gershenz, told The New York Times. 'And it seemed like he was going to give it a good home.'

Those records, too, were shipped to Brazil. So were the inventories of several iconic music-stores, including Colony Records, that glorious mess of LP bins and sheet-music racks that was a Times Square landmark for 64 years. The store closed its doors for good in the fall of 2012, but every single record left in the building - about 200,000 in all - ended up with a single collector, a man driven to get his hands on all the records in the world.

In an office near the back of his 2,350-square-meter warehouse in São Paulo, Zero Freitas, 60, slipped into a chair, grabbed one of the LPs stacked on a table and examined its track list. He wore wire-rimmed glasses, khaki shorts and a Hard Rock Cafe T-shirt; his gray hair was thin on top but curled along his collar in the back. Studying the song list, he appeared vaguely professorial. In truth, Freitas is a wealthy businessman who, since he was a child, has been unable to stop buying records. 'I've gone to therapy for 40 years to try to explain this to myself,' he said.

His compulsion to buy records, he says, is tied up in childhood memories: a Hi-Fi stereo his father bought when Freitas was 5 and the 200 albums the seller threw in as part of the deal. Freitas was 10 years-old in December 1964 when he bought his first record, a new release: 'Roberto Carlos canta para a juventude' (R.C. sings for the young set), by a singer who would go on to become one of Brazil's most popular recording stars. By the time he finished high school, Freitas owned roughly 3,000 records.

After studying music composition in college, he took over the family business, a private bus line that serves the São Paulo suburbs. By age 30, he had about 30,000 records. About 10 years later, his bus company expanded, making him rich. Not long after that, he split up with his wife, and the pace of his buying exploded. 'Maybe it's because I was alone,' Freitas said. 'I don't know.' He soon had a collection in the six figures; his best guess at a current total is several million albums.

Recently, Freitas hired a dozen college interns to help him bring some logic to his obsession. In the warehouse office, 7 of them were busy at individual workstations; one reached into a crate of LPs marked 'PW # 1,425' and fished out a record. She removed the disc from its sleeve and cleaned the vinyl with a soft cloth before handing the album to the young man next to her. He ducked into a black-curtained booth and snapped a picture of the cover. Eventually the record made its way through the assembly-line of interns, and its information was logged into a computer database. An intern typed the name of the artist (The Animals), the title ('Animalism'), year of release (1966), record label (MGM) and - referencing the tag on the crate the record was pulled rom - noted that it once belonged to Paulette Weiss, a New York music critic whose collection of 4,000 albums Freitas recently purchased.

The interns can collectively catalogue about 500 records per day - a Sisyphean rate, as it happens, because Freitas has been burying them with new acquisitions. Between June and November of 2013, more than a dozen 12-meter-long shipping containers arrived, each holding more than 100,000 newly purchased records. Though the warehouse was originally the home of his second business - a company that provides sound and lighting systems for rock concerts and other big events - these days the sound boards and light booms are far outnumbered by the vinyl. 

Many of the records come from a team of international scouts Freitas employs to negotiate his deals. They're scattered across the globe - New York, Mexico City, South Africa, Nigeria, Cairo. The brassy jazz the interns were listening to on the office turntable was from his man in Havana, who so far has shipped him about 100,000 Cuban albums - close to everything ever recorded there, Freitas estimated. He and the interns joke that the island is rising in the Caribeean because of all the weight Freitas has hauled away. 

Allan Bastos, who for years has served as Freitas's New York buyer, was visiting São Paulo and joined us that afternoon in the warehouse office. Bastos, a Brazilian who studied business at the University of Michigan, used to collect records himself, often posting them for sale on eBay. In 2006, he noticed that a single buyer - Freitas - was snapping up virtually every record he listed. He has been buying records for him ever since, focusing on U.S. collections. He has purchased stockpiles from aging record executives and retired music critics, as well as from the occasional celebrity - he bought the record collection of Bob Hope from his daughter about 10 years after Hope died. This summer Bastos moved to Paris, where he'll buy European records for Freitas.  

Bastos looked over the shoulder of an intern, who was entering the information from another album into the computer. 'This will take years and years,' Bastos said of the cataloging effort. 'Probably 20 years, I guess.' Twenty years - if Freitas stops buying records. 

Collecting has always been a solitary pursuit for Freitas, and one he keeps to himself. When he bought the remaining stock of the legendary Modern Sound record store in Rio de Janeiro a couple of years ago, a Brazilian newspaper reported that the buyer was a Japanese collector - an identity Bastos invented to protect Freitas's anonymity. His collection hasn't been publicized, even within Brazil. Few of his fellow vinyl enthusiasts are aware of the extent of his holdings, partly becausde Freitas never listed any of his records for sale. 

But in 2012, Bob George, a music archivist in New York, traveled with Bastos to São Paulo to prepare for Brazilian World Music Day, a celebration that George organized, and together they visited Freitas's home and warehouse; the breadth of the collection astonished George. He was reminded of William Randolph Hearst, the newspaper magnate who lusted after seemingly every piece of art on the world market and then kept expanding his private castle to house all of it. 'What's the good of having it,' George remembers telling Freitas, 'if you can't do something with it or share it?' The question nagged at Freitas.

For the truly compulsive hobbyist, there comes a time when a collection gathers weight - metaphysical, existential weight. It becomes as much a source of anxiety as of joy. 

Freitas in recent years had become increasingly attracted to mystic traditions - Jewish, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist. In his house, he and his second wife created a meditation room, and they began taking spiritual vacations to India and Egypt. But the teachings he admired didn't always jibe with his life as a collector - acquiring, possessing, never letting go. Every new record he bought seemed to whisper in his ear: What, ultimately, do you want to do with all this stuff?

He found a possible model in George, who in 1985 converted his private collection of some 47,000 records into a publicly accessible resource called the ARChive of Contemporary Music. That collection has grown to include roughly 2.2 million tapes, records and compact discs. Musicologists, record companies and filmmakers regularly consult the nonprofit archive seeking hard-to-find songs. In 2009 George entered into a partnership with Columbia University, and his archive has attracted support from many musicians, who donate recordings, money or both. The Rolling Stones guitarrist Keith Richards has provided funding for the archive's collection of early blues recordings. David Bowie, Paul Simon, Nile Rodgers, Martin Scorsese and Jonathan Demme all sit on its board. 

Freitas has recently begun preparing his warehouse for its own venture, which he has dubbed Emporium Musical. In 2013, he got federal authorization to import used records - an activity that hadn't been explicitly allowed by Brazilian trade officials until now. 

Once the archive is registered as a nonprofit, Freitas will shift his collection over to the Emporium. Eventually he envisions it as a sort of library, with listening stations set up among the thousands of shelves. If he has duplicate copies of records, patrons will be able to check out copies to take home. 

Some of those records are highly valuable. In Freitas's living room, a coffee table was covered with recently acquired rarities. On top of a stack of 45 rpms sat  a short-lived group featuring the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson on lead vocals and, as backup singers, Wilson's brother Carl and their mother, Audree. In the same stack was another single - 'Heartache souvenirs' / 'Chicken Shack', by William Powell - that has fetched as much as $5,000 on eBay. Nearby sat a Cuban album by Ivette Hernandez, a pianist who left Cuba after Fidel Castro took power; Hernandez's likeness on the cover was emblazoned with a bold black stamp that read, in Spanish, 'Traitor to the Cuban Revolution' (Traidor a la Revolución Cubana).

While Freitas thumbed through those records, Bastos was warning of a future in which some music might disappear unnoticed. Most of the American and British records Freitas has collected have already been digitally preserved. But in countries like Brazil, Cuba and Nigeria, Bastos estimated, up to 80% of recorded music from the mid-20th century has never been transferred. In many places, he said, vinyl is it, and it's increasingly hard to find. Freitas slumped, then covered his face with his hands and emitted a low, rumbling groan. 'It's very important to save this,' he said. 'Very important'. 

Freitas is negotiating a deal to purchase and digitize thousands of Brazilian 78 rpm recordings, many of which date to the early 1900s, and he expects to digitize some of the rarest records in his collection shortly thereafter. But he said he could more effectively ave the music by protecting the existing vinyl originals in a secure, fireproof facility. 'Vinyl is very durable', he said. 'If youstore them vertically, out of the sun, in a temperature-controlled environment, they can pretty much last forever. They aren't like compact discs, which are actually very fragile.'

In his quest to save obscure music, Bastos told me, Freitas sometimes buys records he doesn't realize he already owns. This spring he finally acquiesced to Bastos's pleas to sell some of his duplicate records, which make up as much as 30% of his total collection, online. 'I said, 'Come on, you have 10 copies of the same album - let's sell four or five!' Bastos said. Freitas smiled and shrugged. 'Yes, but all of those 10 copies are different,' he countered. The he chuckled, as if recognizing how illogical his position might sound.

In March 2014, he began boxing up 10,000 copies of Brazilian LPs to send to George in an exchange between the emerging archive and its inspirational model. It was a modest first step, but significant. Freitas had begun to let go

Earlier in 2014, Freitas and Bastos stopped into Eric Discos, a used-record store in São Paulo that Freitas frequents. 'I put some things aside for you.' the owner, Eric Crauford, told him. The men walked next door, where Crauford lives. Hundreds of records and dozens of CDs teetered in precarious stacks - jazz, heavy metal, pop, easy listening - all for Freitas. 

Sometimes Freitas seems ashamed of his own eclectism. 'A real collector,' he told me, is someone who targets specific records, or sticks to a particular genre. But Freitas hates to filter his purchases. Bastos once stumbled upon an appealing collection that came with 15,000 polka albums. He called Freitas to see if it was a deal breaker. 'Zero was asking me about specific polka artists, whether they were in the collection or not,' Bastos remembered. 'He has this amazing knowledge of every kind of music.' 

That afternoon, Freitas purchased Crauford's selections withou inspecting them, as he always does. He told Crauford he'd send someone later in the week to pick them up and deliver them to his house. Bastos listened to the exchange without comment but noted the destination of the records - Freitas's residence, not the archive's warehouse. He was worried that the collector's compulsion might be getting in the way of the archiving efforts. 'Zero isn't taking too many of the records to his house, is he?' Bastos had asked a woman who helps Freitas manage his cataloging operation. 

No, she told him. But almost every time Freitas picked up a record at the archive, he'd tell a whole story about it. Often, she said, he'd become overwhelmed with emotion. 'It's like he almost cried with every record he sees,' she told him. 

Freitas's desire to own all the music in the world is clearly tangled up in something that, even after all these years, remains tender and raw. Maybe it's the nostalgia triggered by the songs on that first Roberto Carlos album he bought, or perhaps it stretches back to the 200 albums his parents kept when he was small - a micro-collection that was damaged in an flood long ago but that, as an adult, he painstakingly recreated, album by album

After the trip to Eric Discos, I descended into Freitas's basement, where he keeps a few thousand cherry-picked records, a private stash he doesn't share with the archive. Aside from a little area reserved for a half-assembled drum kit, a couple of guitars, keyboards and amps, the room was a labyrinth of floor-to-ceiling shelving units filled with records.

He walked deep into an aisle in search of the first LP he ever bought, the 1964 'Roberto Carlos canta para a juventude' record. He pulled it from the shelf, turning it slowly in his hands, staring a the cover as if it were an irreplaceable artifact - as if he did not, in fact, own 1,793 additional copies of albums by Roberto Carlos, the artist who always has, and always will, occupy more space in his collection than anyone else.

Nearby sat a box of records he hadn't shelved yet. They came from the collection of a man named Paulo Santos, a Brazilian jazz critic and DJ who lived in Washington-DC during the 1950s and who was friendly with some of the giants of jazz and modern classical music. Freitas thumbed through one album after another - Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Leonard Bernstein, Dave Brubeck. The records were signed, and not with simple autographs; the artist had written affectionate messages to Santos, a man they obviously respected. 

'These dedications are so personal.' Freitas said, almost whispering.

He held the Ellington record for an extended moment, reading the inscription, then scanning the liner notes.

Behind his glasses, his eyes looked slightly red and watery, as if something was irritating them. Dust, maybe. But the record was perfectly clean.

Zero Freitas on top of the world, ma!

This article was published at The New York Times Magazine in 8 August 2014.
title of the article:  The Brazilian bus magnate who's buying up all the world's vinyl records
written by Monte Reel, the author of 'Between man and beast' and 'The last of the Tribe'
edited by Jillian Dunham
further modified by the blogger himself.
In the original article 'Roberto Carlos canta para a juventude' was erroneously translated as 'RC sings for children'. 'Juventude' cannot be translated as 'children' but 'young people', 'youth' or even 'young set' but never as 'children'.

Freitas is a wealthy businessman who, since he was a child, has been unable to stop buying records. 'I've gone to therapy for 40 years to try to explain this to myself.'

Freitas and the interns joke that the island of Cuba is rising in the Caribbean because of all the weight he has hauled away. 

Pittsburgh's Paul Mawhinney
Los Angeles Music Man Murray Gershenz (91), died in 28 August 2013.
Murray Gershenz had been an opera singer and a synagogue cantor before he became a noted record collector, running the Los Angeles record-store Music Man Murray for more than 50 years, originally at Santa Monica and Western and most recently in the West Adams neighbourhood. He had been seeking a buyer for his collection of more than 300,000 albums which was snapped up by Zero Freitas a few weeks before Murray died. Gershenz was the subject of a documentary about his record collection, 'Music Man Murray', that aired on the Documentary Channel.

Colony Records on 48th Street and Broadway in Times Square, New York City.
Ernie Dooley, a longtime employee of Colony Records.
Bob George music archivist and Beco Dranoff.
Allan Bastos relaxing at a beach in Rio de Janeiro.

Friday, 22 August 2014

JULIE JOY says rock'n'roll is the beginning of the end

Julie Joy was a young singer who started her career circa 1948. She was very good looking and was mostly seen as a singer who sang American hits at the radio. She also sang at Rio's night clubs. Here Julie is interviewed by journalist Jeanette Adib for 'Jornal das Moças' a popular woman's magazine. Adib would go on to work for 'Revista do Radio' and finally started 'Revista do Rock' her own monthly magazine.

Julie talks about the unhealthy environment in the Brazilian show business in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Julie says she hates singing at night-clubs because patrons are terribly unpolite blowing cigarette smoke at the faces of performers. She says she wouldn't miss giving it all up for marriage. 

In the very end of the interview, Jeanette asks Julie Joy what she thinks of rock'n'roll. Julie don't think twice and says rock'n'roll is the beginning of the end of the world. 

O rock'n'roll é um princípio do fim do mundo! afirma Julie Joy

reportagem de Jeanette Adib para o 'Jornal das Moças' de 9 Maio 1957.

Julie Joy iniciou sua carreira no radio, em 1948, interrompendo-a em 1950, por confessar-se completamente 'enjoada' (ou seria 'enojada'?) do ambiente, porque segundo suas palavras, as coisas estavam um tanto pesadas, entretanto isso não quer dizer que hoje estejam muito melhores.

Julie interpreta músicas norte-americanas e o gênero popular brasileiro, sendo um dos cartazes da Radio Nacional. 'Prefiro cantar músicas brasileiras, porém, no rádio sou mais aproveitada no gênero americano.'

Não gosta de cantar em 'boites'

'Sou franca demais para dizer porque detesto êsse ambiente de trabalho. Acho o público mais mal-educado, que não se detém em jogar fumaça na cara do artista, quando a gente está cantando. Financeiramente compensa, mas também...'

Julie fala de suas gravações na Sinter, de 'Tenderly', a qual interpreta magnificamente, de suas viagens pelo norte do Brasil, de sua vida sentimental etc. Para arrematar, Jeanette Adib pergunta a Julie Joy à queima-roupa:

Já que você é uma excelente intérprete de músicas americanas, o que acha do rock'n'roll?

Julie dispara: 'É um sinal dos tempos. Acho que isso está precedendo às bestas do Apocalipse. Deve ser um princípio do fim do mundo.'

Ellen de Lima, Bill Farr, Ismênia, Esther de Abreu & Julie Joy. 

Jorge Veiga & Julie Joy

Julie Joy in 'E o bicho não deu'.

1958 was Julie Joy's peak year. She was the last Radio Queen (Rainha do Radio) and was shown on 2 movies: Herbert Richers's 'E o bicho não deu' and Cinedistri's 'O camelô da Rua Larga'. 

Monday, 4 August 2014

LENY EVERSONG hotter than Elvis Presley

Even though Brazilian singer Leny Eversong doesn't exactly qualify as a rock'n'roll singer, one day - actually on 6 January 1957, at the Ed Sullivan Show, the highest rating TV show in the United States, she proved to the world she was hotter than even Elvis Presley, the King of Rock'n'roll. And here's the photo to prove it. 

Leny is telling Elvis to 'work a little harder'... told him he had a little catching up to do if he wanted to be in her league. Jee, it takes a lot of balls to tell The King off... but Ms Everson was ever so friendly and a little motherly. Actually if you come to think about it, Leny looked a little like Gladys Presley. Maybe that's why they got along so well. Everything was witnessed by the Man himself: Mr. Ed Sullivan. 

If you don't believe what I've said: have a look at the tape at YouTube:

Elvis Presley & Leny Eversong - 6 January 1957. Two days later Elvis would be 22 years old. 
The King finally had the chance to do his number, supported by The Jordanaires.
Elvis later in 1957 presenting himself for Army medical examination in Memphis.
Elvis induction to the US Army was a great  free advertsiment for their politics during the Cold War.
Elvis & Gladys Love Smith Presley his mother. She would die while Elvis was serving in Germany.
Papa Vernon, Grandma Minnie Mae & Elvis havind breakfast in Memphis.

honourably discharged from the Army in 1960.

After her appearance at the Ed Sullivan Show on the first days of 1957, Leny Eversong had no problem in getting her Las Vegas contracts renewed every year. Here's how she looked 3 years later, in 1960.

Leny Eversong talks to journalist Jeanette Adib on her way back from the U.S.A. 

A critica americana achou Leny Eversong superior a Kate Smith e Sophie Tucker – duas cantoras que se transformaram em ídolos. Ao desembarcar no Galeão, Leny confessou emocionada: ‘Quase morri de saudades do Brasil. Não há nada que se compare com minha terra. Eu jamais trocaria meu país pelos dólares...’  Longe do Brasil, uma suculenta feijoada à moda da casa não tem preço – Deixou três vantajosos contratos pendentes para voltar p’ra casa: Santa Clara, Puerto Rico e New York.

Durante mais de 15 anos – desde 1942 – Leny  Everson ficou relegada ao semi-anonimato, como cantora de músicas americanas, em São Paulo. A voz avantajada da cantora custou a ser notada, e ela já desiludida, estava disposta a abandonar definitivamente o radio. Mas, antes, jogaria com a ultima chance: cantaria sambas. Foi a conta. Todo mundo comentava a extensão de sua voz privilegiada, e o sucesso veio a passos largos. Leny, finalmente, tinha agarrado a ‘bola branca’ – e estava vendendo discos como poucos cantores de cartaz. Diante dessa transformação ela lamentava não ter mudado de gênero há mais tempo – ofuscando ela própria o sucesso e a fortuna que haveriam de chegar um dia quando aquela arte oculta fosse desvendada. A garganta que vale milhões atingia uma nota acima da oitava – e a noticia transpôs fronteiras, assombrando os americanos que não tardaram a fazer excelentes propostas para que a cantora brasileira fizesse uma temporada nos ‘States’.

Abismados com a interpretação de Leny Eversong em ‘Jezebel’ (in English), os empresários daquele país disputaram entre si, a primazia de contratá-la. Foi assim que ela seguiu para a Broadway e cantou debaixo de aplausos ensurdecedores  - bisando vários números, com ‘Canto Afro-Cubano’ (El Cumbanchero), ‘Na Baixa do Sapateiro’, ‘Mãe de ouro’, ‘Jezebel’, ‘Otindere’ e ‘Canta Brasil’. 

Leny Eversong atuou no 'Ed Sullivan Show' o maior programa de televisão dos Estados Unidos no domingo 6 Janeiro 1957 – substituindo o famoso Elvis Presley – a maior coqueluche yankee desses últimos tempos – e isso serviu para torná-la conhecidíssima naquele país, pois na segunda-feira, o noticiário da imprensa se ocupou vastamente da cantora brasileira de voz colossal.
Certa vez, fizemos uma observação a respeito de suas gravações – exclusivamente com musicas americanas – argumentando que estranhamos o fato dela não cantar musicas brasileiras. Leny explicou:

- Eis um assunto que eu sempre gosto de esclarecer; porque não gravei musicas brasileiras na America do Norte e porque deixei de incluir no show do Waldorf Astoria ou no programa de Ed Sullivan composições brasileiras. Sabem por que? Simplesmente porque os músicos norte-americanos desconhecem o verdadeiro ritmo do samba. Quando se fala em samba, eles tocam rumba ou mambo. Dessa maneira, seria ridículo para uma cantora brasileira cantar um samba em ritmo de rumba. Por isso, procurei valorizar-me primeiro – cantando musicas do cancioneiro americano. Depois, quando eu alcançar uma posição mais segura nos ‘States’, terei mais oportunidade de mostrar o verdadeiro ritmo brasileiro sem mistificações e poderei fazer alguma coisa em benefício de nossa musica popular.

Em seu próximo long-play estão incluídas musicas brasileiras de linhas melódicas que permitam arranjos primorosos  - e que estejam bem adequados aos gostos americanos.

Faz poucos dias que Leny Eversong voltou de sua terceira temporada nos Estados Unidos. O seu desembarque no Galeão foi um espetáculo. Todos queriam abraçar a fabulosa cantora – fãs, amigos, repórteres e parentes. Ela desceu do avião emocionadíssima por pisar novamente em terra brasileira e não conteve uma exclamação muito espontânea.

- ‘Quase morri de saudades do Brasil. Não há nada que se compare com minha terra. Eu jamais trocaria minha Pátria pelos dólares! 

- Sinceramente, eu morreria de saudades se tivesse de viver longe daqui. A distância de três meses é o máximo que posso suportar longe do Brasil. Por maior que seja a gloria e a tentação da fortuna, eu jamais abandonarei meu país. Desta vez ultrapassei o limite e fiquei quatro meses fora, mas ultimamente eu vivia tão nervosa que não sentia prazer em coisa alguma. No começo tudo parece formidável para o artista. Lá os contratos são de 3 ou 4 semanas – e isso faz com que as emoções se renovem. Mas comigo era diferente. Na segunda semana eu já me sentia cansada de tudo – doida para terminar aquele contrato e ir para outro lugar diferente. Ultimamente eu estava desesperada para voltar. Ah! Nessas ocasiões é que a gente vê que longe do Brasil, uma suculenta feijoada não tem preço... Quando voltei da minha temporada em Cuba – no Casino Parisien – do Hotel Nacional de Cuba, fui convidada por uma família brasileira para uma feijoada à moda da casa. Na residência do Comandante Contins – que está residindo nos Estados Unidos, há dois anos, senti-me como se estivesse em minha própria casa – e amenizei um pouco a saudade.

- Na televisão, quais foram as emissoras em que você atuou?

- Trabalhei em Hollywood e New York – no Canal 5. Lá os programas são diferentes e não existe esse negócio de contratos como os que temos aqui. Para que eu pudesse trabalhar na televisão americana eu precisaria falar inglês – porque lá, o cantor faz a publicidade, apresenta seus convidados, anuncia os números que vai cantar, e depois então é que ele tem o direito de exibir seus dotes vocais. A princípio eles não acreditaram que eu não soubesse falar inglês – e ficaram surpresos como eu, cantando com pronúncia correta, sem sotaque, não soubesse conversar naquele idioma. Esses programas tem a duração de uma hora e o cantor pode convidar outros cantores – os maiores cartazes, e o artista não se importa de estar cantando lado a lado com outro de igual popularidade. Eu gostaria de fazer um programa assim aqui no Rio – convidando cartazes para cantar junto comigo.

- Quais foram os clubes noturnos que você cantou?

- Thunderbird Hotel, Mocambo, Romanoff, Fontainebleu e, por ultimo, no Club Parisien – que é a boite do Hotel Nacional de Cuba.

- Em cada ‘night-club’ quanto tempo você atuou?

- Em Las Vegas, cinco semanas. Nos outros quatro e três semanas. Todos esses night-clubs são de primeiríssima classe e não é qualquer cantor que eles escolhem...

- E você ganhou muito dinheiro?

- Estou ‘fabricando’ uma carreira nos Estados Unidos. Ainda não estou rica. Eu trouxe mais sucesso do que dinheiro – devido aos impostos que tive que pagar – fora os gastos.

- Quais eram as bases dos contratos?

- Cada contrato variava entre 2.000 e 3.000 dolares por semana.

A critica americana achou que Leny Eversong lembrava muito as cantoras Kate Smith e Sophie Tucker – na voz e nos quilos – e, alguns críticos chegaram a dizer que a nossa cantora era superior àquelas duas artistas que são verdadeiros ídolos. Em Hollywood o sucesso de Leny foi tão estrondoso que ela foi obrigada a bisar nove músicas – isso aconteceu num night-club em que cantam vários artistas – cada 15 minutos um – sem poder repetir nenhuma musica. Nessa noite, Leny tomou conta do espetáculo. ‘Abafou’ de ponta a ponta. 
article published on 'Revista da Semana' - 1957. 
Leny Eversong exuberant on her way back to Rio from New York. 
Leny Eversong at the centre-fold of 'Revista da Semana'.

Great rock album covers

Rock'n'roll have always had a pench for creating sensational album covers. Here are some of my favourites.

Sexteto Prestige was a combo headed by multi-instrumentalist José Menezes. 'Música e Festa' was a series of albums released between 1958 and 1960 by a Prestige Records based in Rio de Janeiro. José Menezes went on to RCA Victor as of 1964, where he recorded the same sort of 'greatest hits' under the name of Velhinhos Transviados (Dirty Old Men). This particular sleeve tells a lot about rock'n'roll in Brazil. They tried hard to find a model boy with blue eyes, as everybody knows Brazilians are dark and have brown eyes 99% of the times. They found the right boy all right. Having difficulties in finding a blonde girl they settled for second best; a brunette with full lips, plucked eye-brows, long painted nails and a tall glass of Cuba Libre in her hand. That's rock'n'roll... that was the notion of rock'n'roll in Brazil then...

Here's the real McCoy... the original 1959 cover.