Victor Kinjo: Terráqueos

Last week I was invited to the We Are Okinawa!!! concert at Music Town Otoichiba in Koza. This was a fascinating meeting of different singers, musicians, and cultures, with a strong emphasis on the connections between the Ryukyus and South America. One of the main featured artists was Okinawan-Peruvian singer Alberto Shiroma from the band Diamantes. Another was visiting musician Victor Kinjo whose second album Terráqueos is released this week.  

Kinjo is a fourth generation Okinawan-Brazilian singer. He is also a songwriter, researcher, and producer who is based in both São Paulo and New York. Following the release of his first album he was nominated for a best singer award at the 2018 Brazilian Music Awards and his vocal artistry is very evident on the new release.

Terráqueos is a short but ambitious statement. The album aims for a champloo musical journey in which Kinjo “melts sounds and languages of the world in a planetary statement for nature, diversity, and peace.” The eight tracks take us through a wide variety of styles with acoustic guitar and sanshin sometimes mixed with other instrumentation but always with the vocals at its core.

It all begins with a short vocal track in which a poem in Tupi (one of the indigenous languages of South America) is fused with the well-known traditional Okinawan song ‘Tinsagu nu Hana’. This is sung in Uchinaguchi, the language of Kinjo’s grandparents.

The album then takes in new interpretations of songs by composers such as Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil as well as some original songs by Kinjo sung in Portuguese, English, French, and Uchinaguchi. The album concludes with his original song ‘Uchina’.

One of the songs on the album is ‘Vem Pro Rio’ (Come to the river) and last year he released this as a single and music video (see below). It was recorded in an artistic and scientific expedition from the source to the mouth of the Tietê River in Southeast Brazil. As part of his continuing research, he has recently been investigating the contamination of Okinawan rivers by US military bases.

It was very good to meet Kinjo last week and talk with him about his projects, both environmental and musical, as he spoke of his work and the activist musicians who have inspired him, from Pete Seeger to Shoukichi Kina. His album is well worth checking out, but the last word goes to Kinjo himself:

“There is a shimanchu teaching that says ichariba choodee, which means we are siblings when we meet. In these times of pandemics, climate emergency and war, we must, at the same time, overcome historical injustices and rescue our common ancestry as Terráqueos (Earthlings) made by land and water. I believe music has the power to unite different peoples, identities, and cultures in harmony.”

Terráqueos is released digitally on 6th May by Brazilian label YB Music:

https://onerpm.link/Terraqueos

Victor Kinjo will be performing in Tokyo at a release concert for the album on Saturday 7th May. See website for details:

http://haremame.com/schedule/72741/

Explore posts in the same categories: Roots Music from Out There

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