Born in Minas Gerais, in overexploited & poor vale de jequitenhonhas, Célia Mara grew up with music.
“I remember my mother and sisters singing all day long…“ Macumba-drums and Samba-rhythms as well as the introverted folclore of Minas Gerais, the popular tele-novela songs or the upcoming Tropicalia have accompanied her since childhood and have formed her musical style.
She started to sing as a six year old, with passion. Alone, on the waterbox, over the roof-tops of Pedra Azul, her home-town.
At the age of 14, she made her debut on stage with her own compositions, with 18 she participated as the first female singer of her region to a supra-regional festival and performed in Belo Horizonte, centre of the new Brazilian music. TV-appearances and gigs in major jazzclubs, theatres and festivals followed – from Belo Horizonte to Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Salvador.
She gave her voice to the left parties for the first elections after military dictature-ship, sang for the syndicates, was always engaged in social movements… But the conservatives won… and there was no money left for culture!
In 1990, after a show in Bahia, she was invited to play in Switzerland, at a small Jazzfestival. And she went.
She liked it… and decided to stay in Europe. She started performing in small jazz clubs, festivals followed. Her first band was directed by Leitieres Leite, the later musical director of Daniela Mercury.
Most importantly she discovered the European jazz scene and worked for the first time with European musicians. She played frequently, whether in Germany (for example at the Jazzfestival Burghausen), in Italy or in Austria. In fall 1992, she chose Austria’s Salzburg as her new home base, played in duo with the german Heli Punzenberger, an excellent guitar player. “To discover Europe at my own pace. And to learn to understand it’s people”.
Célia Mara composed her first “European’s” - hot, melancholy Samba-Funk-Jazz Fusions. And played with Austrian and Brazilian musicians. Soon, she became well known... and performed at international festivals, as opening group for Abdullah Ibrahim, Airto Moreira & Flora Purim, played her own concerts and was a guarantor for an enthusiastic audience.
To get new energy, she returned to Brazil in 1996, back to Samba... and rhythm - with funk and jazz on her mind. In Salvador she composed and recorded some new songs for her CD ,Hot Couture do Samba”. The arrangements were made by her former band director Leitieres Leite, “a fantastic musician...”
At the end of 1996, she came back to Vienna - her new home town - with a strong tool in hand: a new vision of Brazilian music. She founded her new band: potênciaX - „la crème de la crème“ of the new austrian jazz-scene: Reinhard Micko, Thomas Gansch, Herwig Gradischnig, Ingrid Oberkanins, Tibor Kövesdy, Christian Saalfellner… just to name a few… In december of 1997/ release 01.98 she completed the (independent) production of the CD “Hot Couture do Samba“ - which opened her the way to the Austrian Broadcasting Company (national Radio & TV) .
Célia Mara & potênciaX performed at the major festvals and concert halls in Austria, presenting an independent style. Samba meets funk and jazz - original brazilian grooves mix with sophisticated instrumental interpretations - Brazil translated in an European concept.
But Célia was always politically & socially envolved. In 1999, she produced the benefit-CD „Necessàrio“, interpretating songs of Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Chico Buarque… and herself. necessário is a live-recording of the benefit concert „Jazz for Kosovo“, Art Farmer’s last live-concert, with Wolfgang Puschnig, Karl Ratzer etc... in the viennese „RadioHall“. All songs Célia Mara presented are dedicated to the question of human rights. The netsales-benefit went to the project Nika Jaina in Rio de Janeiro, a youth targeted education program in Morro do Salgueiro, one of Rio’s so called favelas.
In 2000 Austria’s Concerto-Poll elected her as best world music artist.
After intensive live-performing years, she started to study how to produce herself. Together with Sweet Susie, resident DJ DubClub Flex - Vienna… the two had never ending discussions about the different groove-concepts between the club-scene and live-performing artists.
Célia Mara began to learn how to arrange, how to create sounds, how to build up loops, introduced new elements to her music… In 2002 the first Logic-Release was ready: the soundtrack to „Salgueiro Queens - relative citizenship…“.
Célia started working on her new album Bastardista already in 2003 – writing new songs, composing, arranging… She has also been teaching “ the computer as an arranging tool for singer/songwriters” at the UNESCO / IMZ creative industries workshop for Latin American artists 2003 in Salvador… and playing a lot in Austria.
Together with her label-partner, the social and cultural anthropologist Silvia Santangelo Jura, she won the „Herta Pammer Preis 2003“ for innovative social and global educational projects: Nika Jaina, including the CD necessário, the video “Salgueiro Queens - relative citizenship“ and especially the live event : “culture is our weapon! “
2004 was dedicated to develop new songs, to put them into the right formats, creating arrangements, experimenting with loops and soundcompositions, building up a new band… and passing fall & winter in the studio: célia mara was pregnant with „BASTARDISTA “…
In may 2005, bastardista has been released by globalista records in vienna.
Célia Mara’s charismatic voice and the eclectic but typically Brazilian mixture made “bastardista”, being defined by the press „a new vision of Brazilian Diaspora music”. Bastardista has been considered „one of the best new Brazilian records“ (Global Rhythm USA), „a 100% legitimate hit“ - 4**** reviewed in Songlines. It stormed the Top 10 of the European World Music Charts had top rankings in the Greek & the Russian charts, and was featured by Funkhaus Europa, awarded 2006 with „COPA DA CULTURA“ by the Brazilian Ministry of Culture.
Various tracks from bastardista were presented on excellent compilations or remixed by well known DJ’s (Kid Loco, Frankie Valentine…). Célia Mara was invited with her band to perform at huge European and Russian festivals and in selected clubs and prestigious concert halls.
Already in 2003, she started building her house in Salvador Bahia, reflecting her double artistic status - to be a Austrian and a Brazilian artist at the same time! Themes of social and cultural diversity are on her mind, she reflects the political transformation happening in Brazil… and starts working on Santa Rebeldia already in 2006…
Travelling and playing a lot, it took her 2 years to get the new album ready… in a strictly independent way!
The album is finally released in 2008 – bringing her to big festivals…

Look @ the projects below!
(Click images)




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