Brazilian singer brings Bossa Nova Project to Milford Center
Structural engineering may have lost one of its bright young stars, but the Connecticut music scene has gained a passionate advocate of happy music that helps the world connect. Music triumphed, but it wasn’t always a sure thing, Isabella Mendes said in a recent telephone chat.
Born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Mendes came to the United States in 1999 at 15, along with her parents and two older sisters, so her father could accept a post-doctorate fellowship at Yale University. They settled in Hamden, where Mendes continues to live, teach and work from her home-office.
“I was always good at math and science; I enjoyed it,” she said. So when it came time to go to college Mendes decided to follow in her father’s footsteps.
She attended Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts, receiving a bachelor’s degree in structural engineering followed by a master’s degree in business administration.
She was fortunate to find engineering jobs immediately out of college while continuing to play piano, sing and compose. Eventually, the life of a full-time musician won out. The multi-talented Mendes, a piano student since age 4, brings her “Bossa Nova Project,” founded last year, to the Milford Arts Council Center for the Arts on Sunday, Jan. 21.
According to MAC, Mendes is known for “her eclectic mix of American jazz standards, authentic bossa nova, Brazilian jazz and a hint of pop in her original songs.” She will be accompanied by Itaiguara Brandao on bass, Samuel Martinelli on drums, David Cordeiro on guitar and vocals and John Collinge on sax and flute.
Through her life, Mendes had piano and composition lessons with masters in Sao Paulo, adding voice and jazz to her studies in New Haven. Some of her mentors have included Douglas Weeks, Frederick Bianchi, John Delorey and Richard Falco.
MAC concert-goers can expect to hear some of her favorite music: “ ‘Marina,’ by Dorival Caymmi; the (title is) the name of a girl, but the song is about how women don’t need makeup to be beautiful; ‘Cade a MPB,’ by Roberto Menescal (which represents popular Brazilian music), and ‘Brigas Nunca Mais,’ by A.C. Jobim, meaning ‘no more fights,’ she said.
“The project was inspired by the original bossa nova movement, which took place during the Brazilian ‘Golden Era’ in the ’60s, when Brazil was booming, culturally, socially and economically,” Mendes said.
Her project brings together a diversity of music: Samba, with its African slave origins, classical European influences and American jazz, she said.
Mendes’ desire: “Let’s make music; music is such a powerful catalyst to communicate. Our sole goal is to bring people together, to have the opportunity to connect and to bring happiness to the world through music. Music is such a powerful language,” she said.
The concert will have cabaret seating; patrons may bring drinks and snacks. Wine, beer, soft drinks and snacks also will be available for purchase.
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