Brazilian star Caetano Veloso and rocker Lenine are among the artists who have gathered in Rio’s Floresta de Tijuca rainforest to record new music based on Veloso’s classic “Nine Out of Ten” and “sing their love for the Earth.”
The “I’m Alive - Rainforest Alliance Sessions” honors Earth Day with a video premiere of the artists standing on lush Oceanside mountains and playing acoustic and electronic instruments in the shade of awe-inspiring trees.
“Rio has the biggest urban forest you can imagine,” Veloso told Billboard. “It's a place I love enormously. It's said to be the biggest in the world. It was planted by Dom Pedro II, the Emperor of Brazil, in the 19th Century. Rio was surrounded by coffee plantations, so the Emperor took the lands into the hands of the State. We went up to the hills and into the forest to record the music and shoot the images.”
Veloso, co-founder of the activist Tropicalia movement, is also well known in the U.S for his collaborations with David Byrne. The GRAMMY-winning singer/songwriter was joined by Lenine and fellow Brazilian artists Criolo, Emicida, Pretinho da Serrinha and Sistah Mo Respect. Model Gisele Bundchen, a member of the Rainforest Alliance Board of Directors, provided narration for the video. The music for the project was produced by New York-based Andres Levin, and the video by Paula Lavigne of Brazil’s Uns Produções e Filmes.
The chorus of Veloso’s song “Nine Out of Ten,” from his 1972 album “Transa,” provided the base for the music.
“Of the songs I wrote in English while I was exiled in London from 1969 to 1972, "Nine Out of Ten" is the one I liked best,” Veloso explains. “So I was happy when Andrés Levin suggested we use it as the base song for the Rainforest Alliance project. The idea was to have the "I´m Alive" chorus repeated as other artists (all of whom I love so dearly) sang or rapped on top of it.”
The English-language song is a time capsule referencing Portobello Road, reggae, and the nuclear Apocalypse. But the universal chorus (“Feel the sound of music banging in my belly/Know that one day I must die/I'm alive “) translates to the project’s cause.
“All Brazilians feel close to nature, even those who go on destroying it,” Veloso says. “The building of our cities and the development of our society have been just as destructive as any other modern nations. Still, Brazil is gigantic and we have not only huge forests, but also various indigenous tribes that keep on living as they did before [Portuguese explorer] Pedro Álavres Cabral arrived with his ships by the coast of Bahia. We must find a way of growing economically without losing that link with Nature.”
“I just hope my voice can be close to the voice of those who sing their love for the Earth,” the singer adds.