"Tia Neuma"
Samba's First Lady


NEUMA GONÇALVES DA SILVA, "Tia Neuma", is one of the Brazilian personalities who better represent the love for a Culture and the struggle for preservation of an art that portrait the feelings of a people and a Nation called Brazil.

SAMBA is without a doubt the portrait of Brazil, and through "him" maybe someday we will re conquer a space and the respect we lost among the international community, space and respect that one day it was our proud, and it was conquered by the talent and work of Composers and Artists like Ary Barroso, Cartola, Assis Valente, Sinval Silva, Laurindo de Almeida, Garôto, Cartola, Tom Jobim, Bola Sete, Walter Wanderley,
Carmen Miranda and Villa Lobos among others.

We appreciate her dedication, and we love her very much, and hope that her love and struggle will not be in vain.

TIA NEUMA talked to Mr.Samba as she used to do with Villa Lobos, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Carlos Drummond de Andrade and many other artists whom go to Mangueira to be close to the Brazilian Cultural roots and the people who keep them alive, at the terrace of her Mangueira's Hill house on november 1995.

Mr. Samba: What is your full name?
Mrs. Neuma:
My name is Neuma with u, Gonçalves da Silva.

How did you come to live here, since you are from Minas?
Nooooo! I am not from Minas. I was born in Madureira and supposed to be Portelense, or Imperiana. I am Mangueira because my father was already Mangueirense. I was born on May 8, 1922.
My father was Mangueira's first President.

What was his name?
Saturnino Gonçalves. So I got to be Samba's First Lady, here in Mangueira.

Are you Samba's First Lady until today?
Until today!

What Mangueira means to you?
Mangueira is my life. Mangueira is everything. It is everything that is good. Think about everything good about your life . . .
That is what Mangueira represents to me.

Samba, what Samba means to you?
Samba is also my passion. The Samba transmits to me the bigger happiness, the tastes of life. When the Samba is good, the music is delicious, I love the melodies, I feel tranquil, I feel happy for being Brazilian. Yet when it is that raps, that . . . then I do not feel good, I feel sad.

In your opinion, who were Mangueira greatest composers?
From Mangueira? In Mangueira we had plenty. Carlos Cachaça, Cartola, Geraldo Pereira . . . Padeirinho, was one of the best, Zé com Fome . . They were so many that I did not have time to choose the greatest.

What about the Mangueira Composers from today?
From today? I cannot even say. A disaster, but I loved this year's Samba Enrêdo. Very good. Yet now a day, the Samba has to be fabricated, it does not come from deep inside.

Why do you think this is happening?
Because it changed. It is life, the novelty of the time, everything is new. So we have to look ahead, I cannot go back If I could . . . It would be like heaven!

Still, does not have anybody here following the steps of Cartola, Carlos Cachaça, Padeirinho?
No . . . none. The samba now is like I told you, they fabricate it. They give you a synapse and one has to compose a Samba. They only write Sambas Enredo, and forget to write a Samba de terreiro, or a "middle of the year" Samba, a Samba Cançao, these are the ones I like it most. They do not.

Still, why is this happening? In America for example, music evolves without losing its roots.
Still, here we lost. We lost a lot. We had wonderful Sambas. I remember many beautiful Sambas. We use to learn them without microphones, and no speakers, it was only Cartola's guitar and a banjo, and a diapason to keep the intonation. It was wonderful.

Do you have Samba in your feet Mrs. Neuma?
Not anymore, but I had. I had. I Sambed a lot. I Sambed . . .

Do you participate of the parade since the first one?
Since the first. I paraded before Mangueira was founded. It was a bloco, and I paraded in Mestre Candinho's bloco, dressed as a sunflower. We were representing the Spring. And I was a flower . . .

You are still a flower.
I think Samba is marvelous. The Samba never makes one sad. Never makes one sick with that disease called nostalgia, because I think, that is a disease. "He" never brings us sorrow, or hurt us in anyway . . . When we are feeling "that" passion, we suffer a lot, and then come tranquility, happiness, that smile in our lips, everybody gets "infected," is not that true? When I was young, I loved to listen to Silvio Caldas, Francisco Alves, I sat listening. Today, one turns the radio on to listen to some music and hear four letter words, those raps that are selling a lot, we have to listen to those things. I admired Carlos Drummond de Andrade, I love to read what he wrote, I admired Tom Jobim, you know, because his songs touched deep one's heart, what they did, playing around, for us it was happiness, you know, it was like love for us.

What is the Samba's future?
Look, I think she is walking vagariously toward victory. Music will win, with faith in God we will win. They will start to listen to your records,
and to others around which are.

Mangueira, will it win this year Mrs. Neuma?
I wish . . . I would love if it win. Yet one never knows what will happen during the parade, is not that true? Nevertheless, we are preparing
ourselves to win this Carnival.

As Samba's, and the greatest Samba School in the world's first lady, what message would you like to send to the Samba enthusiasts that are spread out all over the world?
Look, what I would like to say, to me is very pleasant, but maybe it is not pleasant at all to the ones who will listen. Do not follow Bispo Macêdo. Follow a Guilherme Vergueiro and others whom are defending Brazilian Popular Music. Don't follow these people who are trying to destroy what is ours, what is inside our hearts, what brings us peace, happiness and strength.

Still, the people overseas does not know "what" is Bispo Macedo, but they know what Samba is.
That is the way it should stay. The samba . . . Samba is important. The samba is in our blood. Who has Saint Brothers is one thing, another thing is who has Samba Brothers, and we are sambistas with a message. Our blood is red, like . . . they say it is the war color, but to me, I think it is the peace color. We are friends and brothers. Let us be sambistas, everybody, because
Samba, is the people's happiness.

Thank you very much, Mrs. Neuma.
You bet.

Lita Cerqueira
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