Stories To Tell: “Before the Show”

By Katia Moraes

At 6:30 p.m. I looked at myself in the mirror and tried to hide the puffy eyes a little bit more. The blush was almost at the end, so I made a mental note to buy a new one soon. My friend Marta Santamaria from Sevilla was singing next door with Mitchell Long on guitar. I thought about how fortunate I was to be in the same room with Dilma Barros from Cabo Verde, Marta from Spain and myself from Brasil together tonight. 

Katia Moraes

On the way to Torrance I warmed my voice in the car.  After singing the one song I learned at Valley College I repeat to myself that one day I’ll speak French. To be honest, I’m getting tired of these shallow promises. I know I need to act instead of day dreaming. This reminds me of the new musical project I’m creating for next year. I got a notebook to keep it in the car to write new ideas. They always appear when I’m moving.

The traffic at the 405 fwy was non-existent and I made it to the Cultural Center in less than an hour from the San Fernando Valley. Exactly two hours before the arrival of the musicians. Atsushi (the sound guy) was bringing some equipment to the George Nakano Theatre when I parked my car. He’s a shy fellow, but smiled when I introduced myself. I asked him if there was a place around the area to have a quick bite, but the only thing that came to his mind was the Carl’s Junior down Madronna Ave back towards the fwy. I was not really hungry anyway, so I stopped at a Mobil station and filled up the tank of my car while texting a friend of mine about the show time.

When I returned to the venue I looked at the set list one more time and asked myself if those were the songs I wanted to sing. “How can I expand my heart tonight? What can I add to people’s experience?” 

To step on stage is still my big passion. They say time does not exist, and that’s the feeling I carry with me during a show. I have my insecure moments when I stomp the floor so as to send my fears away, but the sound of the music always carries me back to bliss. Music introduces me to sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth and a zillion senses. I guess I’m fed up with the usual senses life on earth offers, so I imagine there are other ways to experience the experience of what I do.

The host introduces us, the audience quiets down, my first bare foot touches the floor, and the rest is always history. Singing a song involves no pain. Sometimes an anxiety distracts me because I know we didn’t rehearse enough to make me comfortable with the substitute musicians. I know our sensibilities are different. I know I want those unequal personalities to listen to each other, to mix and produce an hour of magical music, but we also have to follow few arrangement cues (not always written on the charts) before flying. Patience is a great teacher that accompanies those who endure, so I breathe in to stay in the moment, with the audience, and everyone else, but not in control.

Soon the notes mix with each other forming an invisible enormous painting. The vibe takes hold of the room and guides my soul. I hold the note at the end of “Berimbau” just because it feels good to reverberate it. I don’t know why I asked everyone to solo before beating my foot on the floor like it was a drum. I felt I was an Indian on a tribal celebration and the sky was going around and around.

How can a square room made of cement, bricks, wood and plaster modify the molecules of human beings? It’s simple. Add sensibility, music and imagination.

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Brazilian singer/dancer/lyricist/writer Katia Moraes has been a dynamic presence in the Los Angeles music scene since the 1990s. Her monthly newsletter, “Brazilian Heart,” explores issues of culture, art and music following her personal whims and passions.  This is her first “Stories To Tell” entry for iRoM.  We hope there will be many more.

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