Meninas de Sinhá
Where:The White Stork Synagogue, Włodkowica 7
Meninas de Sinháto is a women’s circle in which Brazilian women have found the strength to live after their struggles thanks to mutual support and music. This is their second visit to Brave Festival to show the audience what huge therapeutic power lies in singing together.
Initiated at the end of 1980s in the city of Belo Horizonte, the movement called Meninas de Sinhá was created thanks to Valdete Cordeiro, a social activist working with people from the poor district of Alto Vera. She realized how many elderly black women around her, usually former maids or physical workers, were struggling with depression. This is a disease which takes on epidemic proportions in these parts of the city. Due to age, skin colour, sex or low social status, these elderly women feel excluded from the society and are also often abandoned by their families. Lonely, useless and invisible. The cure for their ails proved to be weekly meetings. The women were brought together by talking about shared problems, and soon also by dancing and singing old songs called cantigas de roda. Music has become the main means of their artistic expression because it allows them to throw away their tormenting sadness and turn it into energy and strength, to regain their will to live, or even to transform their lives. With time Meninas de Sinhá has become a true phenomenon in their home country. They win awards, are visible on the artistic map of the country, and branches of the movement are currently being formed in other cities in Brazil.
The music performed by the women from Belo Horizonte is rooted in traditional Brazilian genres, such as calango, marujo, samba, afoxé, lundu or bolero e carombó. In their songs full of striking authenticity they tell their own stories. Most of the singers started their lives of poor workers as little girls, and their husbands and sons were often taken away by disease, addictions and violence. The group Meninas de Sinhá has become their refuge, and sharing their singing as well as their experiences – their therapy. Today they also help others. With their repertoire they visit not only artistic festivals, but also schools, prisons and hospitals, where they share their experiences with others.
The grey-haired singers performing as Meninas de Sinhá fight to highlight their presence in the social life of Brazil, where there is no place today for the elderly and the handicapped. They show the importance of the wisdom and experience of the elderly for other members of the community. Thanks to their work they themselves have regained their self-esteem and once-lost dignity.
The group Meninas de Sinhá today comprises several dozen women and their representation visited Wrocław in 2012 for the edition of Brave Festival entitled “Women Initiating”. This year at the festival we will again be able to experience the joy emanating from their performances.
Recordings of Meninas de Sinhá performances and an interview with members:
Short documentary on Meninas de Sinha's stay at Brave Festival 2012: