"Lio Canta Caymmi"

Idolized in his country but less known abroad, Dorival Caymmi (1914-2008) is one of the most influential singer-songwriters in the history of Brazil's popular music. Major figures such as Joгo Gilberto, Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso have sung his praise and cited him as a prime source of inspiration for their work.

Jacques Duvall, the elegant lyricist who has written songs for key French artists such as Alain Chamfort, Lio and Jane Birkin, has come up with the idea for this album, in which his partner-in-crime Lio performs twelve Dorival Caymmi songs. The works of the Bahian master are subtly revisited, as if translocated to the Northern hemisphere, thanks to inventive arrangements by French musician Chris Vandeputte, and to Lio's moving & lively interpretation.

Born Vanda Maria Ribeiro Furtado Tavares de Vasconcelos in Lisbon and raised in Brussels, Lio became a pop icon in France and Belgium ever since the release of her debut single "Le Banana Split" in 1979, she was sixteen at the time. She went on to record several highly successful albums (on which she worked with the likes of Telex, The Sparks and John Cale), and pursued a career as an actress, appearing in no less than 40 feature films. "Lio canta Caymmi" is the first album she sings in her native Portuguese.   

Being both fans of French of renowned comic strip artist Loustal, Lio and Jacques Duvall asked him to create a drawing, which now adorns the front cover of the album.

I discovered Dorival Caymmi when I bought an old compilation of his songs, performed by various Brazilian stars (Chico Buarque, Tom Jobim, Gal Costa). I instantly fell for his wonderful melodies, for his delicious blend of sophistication and simplicity. Mostly written in the 1930s, Caymmi's songs celebrate Bahia (Brazil's most African city), the fisherman, the sea, and love. I wanted to contribute to giving renewed exposure to this precious treasure.

I played these songs to a close friend, guitarist Christophe Vandeputte, who originates from Valenciennes in Northern France (i.e. not exactly the same latitude as Bahia!). The effect was immediate: he seemed to have fallen under the spell of a voodoo sorcerer, and feverishy started creating new arrangements for these ancient little jewels. As for me, I added a verse in French to each of the original texts, in order to sum up the spirit of each song in a nutshell and make it more accessible to francophone listeners.

We already knew who could sing these songs: only Lio could combine the sheer nerve (to tackle the works of this master) with the humility (to serve these songs with all her heart) which were both needed in order to do justice to these popular masterpieces. All I needed was to convince her. Caymmi's magic was irresistible: after the first listen, a big smile appeared on her lips, I knew that a great adventure was about to begin. 

By Jacques Duvall