Growing up in Pedreira Prado Lopes, one of the largest and oldest favelas in Belo Horizonte, Adriana Araújo is one of the names that has been gaining more and more prominence in the samba scene in the capital of Minas Gerais.
Black with dark skin, she says that there are many barriers faced by black women who make culture their profession and stage of resistance. Still, Adriana highlights the role of art in shaping who she is today.
“Culture, art and music play a very important social role and open not only our minds, but also our eyes. It helps us see other horizons, other possibilities”, says the samba singer and composer.
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In the framework of Black November, the month of racial awareness, Brasil de Fato MG interviewed Adriana Araújo to learn a little more about her trajectory and talk about the role of art and culture in building an anti-racist society.
Check out the full interview:
Brasil de Fato MG: what is the role of culture in shaping the woman you are today?
Adriana Araújo: It was very important. I am completely sure that culture saves lives. Culture, sport and everything that is aimed at us acquiring knowledge. That’s how I really became the person I am today, it was through culture.
Culture, art and music play a very important social role and open not only our minds, but also our eyes. It helps us see other horizons, other possibilities for us to grow as people, as human beings. So that we can have more love for each other. That’s what music is. It’s love and tranquility.
What are the main challenges faced by black and peripheral women who occupy the cultural scene?
Reality is arduous. There are many stones in the way. We knock on doors and they don’t open. We know that the darker the skin color, the more difficult it is to open these doors, especially as a woman, dark black and still peripheral and coming from a community. It’s not from a simple neighborhood, it’s from a community, where marginalization is significant, very explicit and very powerful among us. The doors close.
I remember, when I was a teenager, I was embarrassed to say where I came from. In fact, it wasn’t even shame, it was fear. Because I knew that if I said it, the doors would close and I wouldn’t be able to enter certain places, access certain things.
Not now. Today I’m proud to say where I came from. But even so, there are still many barriers to overcome. People still turn their noses and look differently. But we, with a lot of struggle, a lot of work and a lot of competence, not only mine, but that of my entire team, are showing people in this society that we are capable, that we are powerful and that we can get there.
How did art become part of your life?
I’m a singer, songwriter and samba player from Belo Horizonte, born and raised in Pedreira Prado Lopes. I spent my childhood, adolescence and most of my adult life in that place, where I am very proud to have come from.
I don’t have any family vein that I could say is artistic, I don’t have any relatives in the area. It’s as if something supernatural had happened in my life.
I did Afro dancing with a gigantic artist, who left us a while ago, called Marlene Silva. Free dance classes were offered to anyone who lived in Pedreira Prado Lopes. I started making art with her, dancing.
Later, I discovered a project here in BH called Oficina Cultural, which offers theater, dance and other artistic expressions. I did theater and then did some periods of music. I participated in three workshops for this project.
Years later, my current husband got together with some friends and did a “join together”, so he could help an aunt build a bar, which was her dream. This joke turned into something serious. I, from Minas Gerais, started “eating around the edges”, participating “here” and singing a song “there”.
At the time, they set up a samba group and I was part of that group. In 2020, I left that group, which I participated in for more than ten years, and started building my solo career.
My first show was on March 8, 2020 and, the following week, everything was closed due to the pandemic. So, I started doing lives and my career started to progress in a beautiful way.
Where do you get the strength to face the barriers imposed by racism?
From my mother. My mother was a very strong, very powerful woman. A woman who suffered violence her entire life, from her father, from society, from her husband, who was extremely violent. But, she didn’t give up. She fought for hers, which were her four children.
She worked, gave up her own life and found the strength to enable us to be what we are today. So, the strength of this black woman here comes from another dark black woman, who is my mother.
In your opinion, what is the role of art, culture and artists in building an anti-racist society?
Our role is extremely important. I was talking about this with someone a while ago, regarding our political role. I hadn’t yet realized that this position – me, my body, my art – was political. Because we, even if we don’t want to or don’t know how to be, are political beings.
It is our importance to show people and society that they still have such a small mind, which I think is so poor, not financially, but in mentality, to think that they are superior, because of the color of their skin. Our job, including that of white people, is to show that this thinking is already outdated. We are thinking people, who fight for ours and for ourselves and who deserve and have to have respect.
If you could say something to the black girls and teenagers who are today spread across the outskirts of Brazil, what would you say?
I tell you, don’t give up, don’t give up on your dreams. Grab them tooth and nail and don’t let anything or anyone say the opposite of your dreams and prevent you from being able to walk and pave your road. Only you and God know about your struggle, your ability and your competence. So, just go and have faith in yourself.
In 2021, Adriana Araújo released her first original album, Minha Verdade. In 2022, she recorded the DVD Último Samba do Ano and, this year, Adriana Araújo sings Alcione.
On social media, the artist already has more than 30 thousand followers. To learn more about Adriana’s work, click here.
Source: BdF Minas Gerais
Editing: Larissa Costa