Waldemar Bastos - The Renaissance Man

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Chasing the concept "Music is a universal language", I rush to capture and share the landscape of a man and a music spiraling with the multiplicity of African cultural sounds and penetrating the international musical spectrum. Creating a bouquet of tunes that echo the flavors and moods of the motherland, Angola's very own, Waldemar Bastos has given birth to his new CD Renascence on Time Square Records.  In it he erases the boundaries of music and evokes the image of a garden decorated with a bitter-sweet edge, trimmed with tunes of African Soukous violets, Latin roses, Calypso tulips, a smidgen of reggae/hip-hop pedals and a voice soaring over the mountains of the past.

I am set on sharing this form of liberation the soul experiences when the lyrics can not be deciphered by the mind alone. But instead, the heart and soul naturally absorbs the unknown language in an intuitive fashion. Renascence stylishly blends an anthology of first class international musicians and slowly reawakens a sleeping heart.

I scanned the lobby of the Renaissance Hotel in Washington, DC to find the man behind the music. As I turn, I recall the image on the CD cover where he stands with his off white shirt contrasting nature's shades while gazing at mother earth's curves. This day he sports a slightly faded Black long sleeved t-shirt with blue jeans. Standing tall with simple flair was the unmistakable Angolan rock himself.

Renascence is named in honor of the resurgence of a not so long ago forgotten artist who resurrects his music and returns after his last work 7 years ago. His last CD Pretaluz was produced during the period of war in his homeland, Angola. It was a time of deep sadness and pain. Through his latest CD he resurrects his archival works and reemerges himself on the global musical scene. He returns after detriments and desolations of war and the killing of his first son.  The CD compounds it all with a deep resonating of the ruins of war, the love and longing for home and family, and a vision of peace and reconciliation.

Worldwide music aficionados will certainly want to add this CD to their collection. Bastos intones the exotic Portuguese language with a strikingly steady voice that will certainly evoke sensations in you. "The CD speaks on my feelings of the war in my country, it is to give a new perspective", says Bastos who lived in Angola when the war broke out and was held political prisoner for no apparent reason.

Born on the northern coast of Angola - where the Congo River partitions his homeland and Zaire, Bastos brings the acclaimed tunes of his neighbors. Casting a trail of Soukous, Renascence holds a spot with the sultry, sensual mixes of reggae and R & B accentuated by rugged-voiced deejay Chaka Demus.

Bastos was surrounded by music as a young child and began playing at age 7. His first musical instrument was the accordion, followed by the guitar. His father was the organist for their church and had a strong influence on his musical development. Regardless of the language spoken, this CD demonstrates that music is universal and so is love and war. As we continue our conversation, Waldemar begins to shares the story of a woman who reluctantly attended his concert in Europe. Her boyfriend had bought two tickets but she was not in the mood because of the death of a family member 10 days prior. By the time the concert was over, she made her way to the musician to thank him deeply for his music. Opening up to those musical moments allowed her to connect with the pain and grieve the loss. 

"This for me affirms the influence and message of my music", explained the Angolan native. Renascence embodies the power of music's two-fold nature, speaking to the mind through the lyrics and reaching the heart through the tunes. So who is Waldemar Bastos, I inquire?  "I am a sinner, like everyone else. I want to be, everyday, better than before," he laughs heartily. A true Capricorn he is - reserved, formal and certainly younger looking than what his life numbers will reveal. Though slow to warm up, thirty minutes later, he's at ease and immerses into our conversation. We savor the taste of hummus and bread dipped in olive oil. Laughter sprinkles throughout our chat as we explore life's commonalities.  "My life is simple", he continues, sharing his passion and love of the sea and revealing his craze for racing boats and swimming.

As I probe the Angolan rock's mind, he turned the table and asks me, "Where are you from?" Upon answering, he tells me that he's never made it to Liberia, but he did do a private performance for the former assassinated President William R. Tolbert during an official visit to Angola back in the 70s. We both agree that the world is smaller than it appears. What do you want the world to know? "It is important that people respect  their culture and the culture of other people, leaving behind the concept of being superior", Bastos responds.

When I listen to the CD, Waldemar Bastos takes me to a place where I see people gathered in a huge ball room with flowers everywhere.  As I pierce the picturesque scene, I see an exhibit of nature's finest. I see flowers of all colors and designs, beauty and shades of skin, shapes and sizes of bodies all moving to the smooth and gentle beat.  People are smiling, laughing, festooned with their ethnic attires and jewelry. Representing their unique culture, they all blend together in one space and time. People are celebrating, moving and dancing everywhere. Renascence moves me in and out of the spirit of South & Latin America, the Caribbean Islands and the majestic vibes of Africa. I take off slowly into a virtual tour that connects me with uninhibited cultures and eclectic sounds. I have to admit that if you don't understand the Portuguese language, you will be taken to the banks of the Mediterranean Sea with the orangey sun slowing bowing down. It'll sweep you into a sort of longing for something or someone. Romantic as it may sound, the lyrics speak otherwise. But, you will eat this CD up - simply put - it is sweet!

Talk about the universality of music! Picture the last supper - but with diversity - that's his band! At one of their rehearsal dinners in Europe you will find the owner of the studio -  who is Trini & Irish, a Jamaican Producer, his manager who is Turkish, the band members  who are from Guinea Bissau, Zaire, Angola, Mozambique, Congo, Guinea, and of Spanish origin. Now put them all together, you have the coming together of worlds apart and a constellation of how things should be.  Imagine 11 people sitting at a huge table, 7 different languages interweaving in the air - conversations going on in a chorale.  Now that's a beautifully inspiring image of One World! One Love. Feeding the universal soul through his music, Waldemar Bastos' home away from home is Lisbon, Portugal. He is married with two children.

To find out more about the artist and his CD, "Renascence", visit his website at


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