The student choir that you hear in these recordings, I called CTJ Choir. I started this choir because for a while I was not performing professionally (at my own choice, but still I missed doing music more than just in my living room). So, I found students who liked the idea of a choir and could sing in tune–most of them were in fact quite good and had beautiful voices!
CTJ are the initials of their school, Casa Thomas Jefferson, an excellent English school in Brasília, where you can start from zero and come out a full-fledged English teacher. I was a teacher there, and so was Paul, my former husband, who also sang in the choir and of course in the recordings that you will hear. (There's a bit more about Paul here, in case you're curious and up to an amusing little tale;). It's in fact a page that I couldn't resist making & dedicating to him with a warm loving smile. There's also a photo here.)
The CTJ Choir existed for a few years during the 80's and, because we could sing well in English, we were often requested to sing at Embassy parties in Brasília (the capital of Brazil). We also sang in many graduation ceremonies, and now and then had a show of our own, too. Although we were a very modest amateur choir, we sang for a number of well known people in these parties, including Pelé, the Brazilian king of soccer (this instance was at a big 4th of July party).
Deck the Hall was recorded while we practiced for a Christmas performance, and Deep River, during a performance at a graduation ceremony – two very distinct atmospheres.
Later, there was also The CTJ Band, which I started a year or two after the CTJ Choir. Paul was likewise in this band. He played the guitar (classical & electrical) and I played the bass. Luis Mesquita played the folk guitar. We sounded like a humble version of the great Peter, Paul & Mary.
Though now and then the CTJ Band and CTJ Choir did perform together, they were kept as two separate groups. They were active until 1986, after which time I'd be out of Brazil for a long period.
I have many recordings of the CTJ Choir, though just the two songs that you can access here fall into the public domain area. The others I could only share privately. Among these are Try to Remember, Sounds of Silence, Night and Day, Those Were the Days, Charlie on the MTA (MBTA), and a delightfully amusing version of Paper Doll which is worth special reference. Paul and I wrote extra music & lyrics that added a fugue flavor to the original song. It was not only pleasant to the ear, but also very amusing. :) Those who could understand English in the audience couldn't avoid a few burts of laughter, when they listened to our Paper Doll. Thus Paper Doll became the humorous touch in our performances.
A playful relationship with the audience has long been a trait of mine as a musician. Life is a very serious affair, but there's nothing wrong with taking it with a smile and a sunny disposition. Why not?:)... While I was singing professionally in Brasília, for instance, my version of New York, New York became fairly renowned in town.
One of the reasons, I believe, was the pinch of humor that I added to the song, teasing the audience into my starting with the wrong song, typically one about some other American city (San Francisco, Chicago, New Orleans & others that also enjoy famous songs), till finally the band & I kicked it off full power with the New York, New York that the audience had expected from the start! Invariably, they + us (on stage) had a jolly time & a few laughters, too;)... (Quite hard to sing when you're laughing, BTW! Have you tried it?!...)
The CTJ Band, in contrast to the Choir, I have far fewer recordings of. Though there should be some more, I can now think just of Tell it on the Mountain, I'm beginning to see the light and Wally, Wally, a beautiful medieval English song which I arranged in a folkish and then jazzy style (i.e., shifting styles midway through). This song was a favorite of Katy's, a teacher and later director of the academic section, who introduced me to the song. (The surname was omitted above in respect of Katy's privacy.)
Should your curiousity have been tackled regarding how we did any of these songs, you are surely welcome to drop me a line. This last song that I've mentioned could in fact be on-line, except that I have no more space – for the time being, at least.
If, on the other hand, you'd be curious just to hear me play the bass (since I'm usually playing the guitar), then try my Little Boy Blue. Check the version done with Bull's Eye, one of the bands I had when I lived in the US. I played the bass in most of the bands I had in North America, including the one with which I recorded this song. (Little Boy Blue has a pretty moving story of its own, which you can reach also via the link just above.)
To close this reference to the CTJ Choir, I'll share that I greatly enjoyed this period in which I was playing and singing with amateur musicians. We of course had limitations which the profs usually don't, but it was really great fun!:)
(If any of you, guys, who have sung with me in the CTJ Choir, happen to land on the current page one day, you can be sure that I miss you – yes, despite the years that have gone by – and think very fondly of you all! :)
Luciano Fleming, one of the best guitarist that I have performed with, with whom I had a guitar-voice duo for quite a long while, and whom (+whose music!) I miss greatly, once made a remark that might help explain the gusto I recall from my CTJ Choir+Band years.
Luciano said he greatly enjoyed having that duo with me for I brought in both the seriousness of the professional and the joy and enthusiasm of the amateur.
Though music has always been something that makes me genuinely happy, I had never thought it out in these terms, as Luciano put it. Nor did I ever forget his words: they actually exposed a basic trait, one that reaches well beyond the music realm. Just I had not been aware of it.
Now and then someone's eyes are excellent mirrors!:)... As Proust said, the real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes (see my Quotes). A good, sensitive, thoughtful-minded friend is sometimes all we need to help cast light on what we're so close to, and so used to, that we fail to notice :)...
All in all, what these CTJ Choir / Band recordings may lack in quality, they abound in joy !
(Luciano! If you now have a computer and find this page, do get in touch! Escreva em português, claro!:) I haven't forgotten it; nor your beautiful Iúna, your amusing Enrola e Fia, and many others! Now, thanks for getting in touch, Luciano! Obrigada! Valeu!:)
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