Cheerful tribute to Wilson Simonal

On the first anniversary of the singer’s death, son Simoninha performs his songs and plans to reissue his albums

Marco Antonio Barbosa
It seems that it happened just yesterday, but it’s already been one year - on June 25th - since singer Wilson Simonal died. The artistic history of the "king of swindle" is one of the most extraordinary this country has ever witnessed: crowned with success in the 60’s, legitimate architect of the modern Brazilian black music, ostracized after the infamous military dictatorship collaboration episode, and at last redeemed in the musical world. But it was too late, for Simonal (click here to read more about Simonal’s career and discography) would die of chronic liver disease in 2000, five years after releasing his last album (Brasil). However, according to Wilson Simoninha, Simonal’s eldest son, there will be no mourning nor candles to salute his father on this date - but lots of swing, instead. Simoninha performed a concert in São Paulo on June 25th with the songs recorded by his father. And not only that: he intends to issue all of Simonal’s albums on CD for the first time, through Trama Music.

"One day I was home alone, and I started listening to Simonal’s music. Then I realized it was going to be his death anniversary... and I couldn’t let the date go by in blank", Simoninha explains. "The first idea was obvious: to celebrate a mass. But then I thought, why not play a concert? A concert with his songs to pay homage to him and his fans."

For the concert in São Paulo, Simoninha chose an overview of Simonal’s career. "I gathered significant songs in his trajectory. There are some obvious picks for people who already know his work, like País Tropical or Meu Limão, Meu Limoeiro, but there are also songs from the beginning of his career, such as Lobo Bobo and Balanço Zona Sul." Although he is excited about the homage, Simoninha points out: "This concert was the first and last of this kind. I’m not making any kind of official tribute, nor praising any kind of manifesto in the memory of my father. I didn’t even want to advertise it. It’s a very personal thing, I could’ve done it in my own house, but it wouldn’t be enough for all the people that like his music. I’m not doing it to promote myself."

Also without any self-promotional intent is the project to reissue Wilson Simonal’s work on CD, which Simoninha is developing with his record label, Trama. "These reissues are not devised as homage. The intention is to show his importance to Brazilian music, for hardly anybody remembers him", claims Simoninha. There has been talk about the reissues since last year, conducted by a "committee" composed of Simoninha, Trama and the labels that have the rights to Simonal’s most important records - EMI and Universal. "We’re planning to reissue all the albums he recorded between 1965 and 1975, the most important and prominent phase", continues Simoninha, "I don’t mean to be dusting my father’s coffin, but someone’s got to do this job, and this person is me, his son."

The package should include 11 albums, from 1965’s Wilson Simonal to 1972’s (the year his career stumbled) Se Dependesse de Mim. This is basically the period in which Simonal, having distanced himself from the bossa nova, consolidated his very Brazilian black music style - incorporating soul, funk and Jovem Guarda influences to the Brazilian samba.

Just a reminder: none of Simonal’s classic albums were printed on CD, except for the compilations A Bossa e o Balanço de Wilson Simonal (1998), Bem Brasil, (1998), Meus Momentos, his last album, Brasil, and a title of the series "Dois LPs em um CD", with the two albums Ninguém Proibe o Amor (75) and A Vida É Só Pra Cantar (77).