Luedji Luna’s second album, entitled Bom Mesmo É Estar Debaixo d’Água (It’s Really Good To Be Underwater), builds a narrative about giving autonomy to black women, encouraging them to express their feelings and desires.
Luedji is part of a generation of Bahian musicians – including rapper Baco Exu do Blues, the groups Àttøøxxá, and Baiana System, and Xenia França. Despite being part of this scene, Luedji Luna left Bahia three years ago for São Paulo where she recorded her first album, 2019’s Um Corpo No Mundo (A Body in the World).
“This new album is a look at my own experiences, my emotions and love, underlined by machismo and racism,” explains Luedji. “I think it’s important to bring up the theme of love from the perspective of the black woman, because there is an absence in literature. This woman speaking as she loves, who loves. When one thinks of struggle, it exists, but not in the sensitive field of love,” she says.
Luedji says that the album’s intention is to bring back the humanity of black women. “You rarely see the black woman being loved in cinema, being the muse, speaking in the first person. I want to build that story.” The album lyrics depict different women: the independent one who leaves the house without a shoe and without a ring on her finger; the one who denounces being the black woman you fuck but don’t want to be with; and the one who declares herself to the father of my children. Luedji’s declarations are clear references to the loneliness and abandonment expressed by tens of thousands of Black Brazilian women.
“When I sang these songs it was very therapeutic for me because I observed my evolution on how I gave and received love. When you talk about love as a Black woman we have a good side and there’s also a bad side, you know? We are unloved, we are objectified, and there’s many perspectives about living this reality. Each song on the album is about an experience with love in my life and some of them were not good experiences. There are so many more complications when you are a Black woman,” she recently told Vanity Fair. “We’re expected to sing about hunger, pain, hunger, sadness. But we can sing other things. We live other things, too. That’s why I talk about love, to escape this stereotype, this expectation of pain when you think about a Black woman,” she says in an interview with The Guardian. “I’m talking about love as healing. I’m talking about love as power.”
Having contemporary Africa as its guide, the album was recorded with musicians from Kenya, Burundi and Madagascar. The exploration of African influences is in the title track of the album which Luna composed with musician François Muleka. Muleka was born in São Paulo to Congolese parents. The musician, who has also lived in Bahia, always had a connection with Brazilian music, which he says he “remixes” with African music. For the album, Luedji established partnerships with various Black writers and poets. One of the tracks incorporates a poem excerpt by Conceição Evaristo (from Minas Gerais) in the re-reading of the Nina Simone song Ain’t Got No. Also from Minas, Cidinha da Silva wrote Lençóis, with Luedji, featuring the participation of Tatiana Nascimento. Recado is Luedji’s composition with the Bahian poet Dejanira Rainha Santos Melo. Erro was written by Marissol Mwaba (she wrote Notícias de Salvador on Luedji’s previous album).
Luedji Luna’s intention was to mix jazz influences with African rhythms throughout the album, between Africa – more precisely in Kenya – and Brazil, with music production shared by Kenyan guitarist Kato Change and Luedji Luna herself. The sound of the album, which has an African influence but mixes diverse references, such as jazz, blues and reggae, also has to do with the formation of the band who recorded with the singer: Kenyan Kato Change (guitars), the Paulista created in Bahia and son of Congolese François Muleka (guitar), the Cuban Aniel Somellian (electric and acoustic bass), the Bahian Rudson Daniel de Salvador (percussion) and the Swede living in Bahia Sebastian Notini (percussion). “The biggest influence of this sensational multicultural meeting was on the sound, and it made perfect sense, because I’m talking about no place, not belonging, the sound could not have such a demarcated territory, it could not be Brazilian, American music, African, Bahian, it has to be world music, right? They were free to create and, within that freedom, printed the identity of each one of them,” she explains.
For this second album, Luedji Luna made a film directed by Joyce Prado, the filmmaker responsible for directing the clip for “Banho de Folhas” (2017), a song that drove the first album by the Bahian singer and songwriter. “Water is an element linked to emotions and Oxum. The visual album carries references to my religion and my understanding as a black woman.”