Maria de Barros : Town Hall, Seattle, WA 7/21/2006

Senegalese native Maria de Barros is the kind of musician to whom one can’t help but surrender oneself. Full of the joie de vivre endemic to so many performers of African heritage; the music, dance moves, and smile of de Barros clearly captivated the Town Hall crowd. They displayed seemingly boundless enthusiasm, dancing and singing along with de Barros’ music, despite the almost unbearably high temperatures in the non-air conditioned building.

Though born in Senegal, de Barros has roots in Cabo Verde, Mauritania, Los Angeles, and Rhode Island. These polyglot roots are clearly evident in her musical style, which ranges broadly through jazzy, bluesy, and Afro-Caribbean territory; the only obvious common theme being the energy with which she infused all her music. Her supporting band reflected a similar musical diversity, being introduced with homes ranging from Los Angeles to Brazil to West Africa. Like de Barros, they played with obvious zeal (and big grins) – though it was hard to tell whether they were enjoying the music, or simply enjoying the stunning visage and infectious energy of their namesake performer. Similarly, nearly all the children in the audience seemed drawn to her feet like the Pied Piper, even joining her on-stage and following her out at the end of her set.

Maria de Barros is a strong talent, and a stunning performer. Though this reviewer knew few of the songs performed, her music is the music of the soul, capable of speaking across time zones and languages as only great music can do.

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