Ivete Sangalo can fill large venues in the United States, even while few Americans have ever heard of her or her brand of indefatigable Brazilian party music.
That's because Sangalo can count on legions of homesick Brazilians to turn out for her all-singing, all-dancing, high-energy extravaganzas that come as close to Brazil's over-the-top Carnival celebrations as one can get without leaving the North American continent.
And now, with her reputation growing slowly but steadily among non-Brazilians, Sangalo expects to see more than a few "gringos" as she prepares to celebrate her 20-year career with a five-city U.S. tour that takes her to the West Coast for the first time.
"My public is growing outside of Brazil. Every time I play out of the country there are more and more local people, thanks to all the Brazilians who act as ambassadors for my music," said Sangalo, who will kick off her "Real Fantasia Tour 2013" on Aug. 9 in Oakland, Calif. She'll also visit Los Angeles; Lynn, Mass.; and Newark, N.J., before wrapping in Miami on Aug. 17.
"I'm going to places I've never performed before so I have to cure a lot of homesickness. I have to give the fans what they like," the 41-year-old said in a phone interview from her home in Salvador, Bahia - a colonial city on the Atlantic coast with a reputation for one of Brazil's best Carnivals.
In Brazil, Sangalo is the undisputed Queen of Axe (ah-SHAY) music - a doubled-timed party sound that fuses Brazilian rhythms like samba and frevo with rock, reggae and calypso styles. It is the sound of Bahia's weeklong Carnival- which differs from the better known blow-out in Rio where samba is king - and Sangalo, a statuesque brunette with a voice like a trumpet, reigns over it, singing from the top of a huge sound truck for six hours or more at a stretch.
"My music reaches a lot of different (people)," Sangalo said.
The Latin Grammy winner released the album "Real Fantasia" last year.