Indio, Calif., and Rio de Janeiro are nearly 7,000 miles apart. Indio is a desert, and Rio a tropical beach paradise; Rio a bustling metropolis of nearly 7 million people, and Indio, for most of the year, a sleepy small town. But in mid-April, the disparate locales somehow became one when Anitta turned Coachella into a Brazilian Carnival.
Sérgio Mendes’ classic samba “Mas Que Nada” played over the speakers; then, as it transitioned into her own “Onda Diferente,” the 29-year-old rode a motorcycle onto the main stage, wearing a spangled and feathered Roberto Cavalli ensemble in yellow, green and blue, the colors of the Brazilian flag. Over the course of the next 45 minutes, her eye-popping show — a master class in twerking, with funk battle, samba and capoeira segments — transported the audience to the working-class Honório Gurgel neighborhood in which she grew up. Anitta’s message was clear: You can take the girl out of Rio — and bring her all the way to Indio — but you can’t take the Rio out of the girl.
Anitta will speak and perform at the inaugural Billboard MusicCon on May 13 at AREA15 in Las Vegas. Get your tickets to the event here.
Three days before that history-making performance — the first-ever by a Brazilian artist on the festival’s main stage — Anitta is taking a break from rehearsal, looking far more low-key in loose pants, a crop top and an oversize jacket paired with sneakers. But the momentousness of the upcoming show (where her guest performers included Snoop Dogg, Saweetie and Diplo) is on her mind. “I will always need to carry my culture,” she says. “I could never just go to another market and do whatever. What would be the purpose: Fame? Money? I already had that, and that’s not the point for me.”
Read Anitta’s full Billboard cover story here.