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10/14/2015
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Interview: Badi Assad on covering Lorde, returning to Sarasota

For fans of virtuoso guitarists and vocalists, local shows don’t really get more special than Badi Assad playing the 110-seat Fogartyville Community Media and Arts Center. To put it in perspective, Assad had a date earlier this week at the 1,500-seat Teatro Mella in Havana, Cuba, and following her show Saturday in Sarasota she has back-to-back dates at the The Iridium Jazz Club on Broadway in New York City where Les Paul held his weekly performances for nearly 15 years. Assad, a legendary guitarist and singer in her native Brazil, chose to launch her East Coast tour here because, well, she loves the area.

“I lived in Sarasota for about a year in 1999, in the countryside, big land with a horse,” she says by phone from her home in Brazil. “Back then we wanted to be closer to the beach and California didn’t make sense and we went for a drive around Florida and when we passed through Sarasota I was in love with the town.”
Assad lets out a warm laugh, then adds, “I had an affair with Sarasota.”

Badi Assad plays pop hits her way on 'Hatched,' review by Wade Tatangelo

Assad was a star in Brazil and abroad during her time here following the 1998 release of her international breakthrough album “Chameleon.” She played the Europe summer festival circuit, sharing the stage with such artists as Cassandra Wilson, Joe Cocker, Maria Joao and fellow Brazilians Chico Cesar, Marisa Monte and Gilberto Gil. The album’s single, “Waves,” landed in Spain’s Top 10 and was later included in the soundtrack of the film “It Runs in the Family,” starring Michael and Kirk Douglas. While being well-known in Brazil and Europe, Assad enjoyed her anonymity in Sarasota.

“I don’t know how it is now but it was so beautiful, the beach was wonderful, all the drum circles on Sundays,” she says of Sarasota. “The nature lives with the town in a natural form. I’m very happy to be going back.”

Assad’s Fogartyville show is extra special because it will be her first following the U.S. release of her new album “Hatched” on Friday The collection features Assad’s famed finger-style acoustic guitar playing and singular vocal stylings on songs made famous by the likes of Lorde, Skrillex, Alt-J, Hozier, and Mumford and Sons. It’s a fresh course for the artist who started gaining fame as a teenager playing guitar throughout Brazil in the late 1980s.

“I knew I had to deliver an album for the U.S. market this year,” she says. “I thought of doing covers of Bob Dylan but so many people have done covers of those songs.”
Assad was then presented with music by numerous contemporary young artists, hugely popular recordings in the United States that had barely made an impact yet in Brazil. The music ranged from the folk-rock of Mumford and Sons to the electronic dance music of Skrillex.

“The only name I knew was Lorde but I totally fell in love with them all, not only the music but the content of their lyrics,” Assad says. “I was very pleased that some younger musicians are doing music that’s getting young people to think again.”

Badi Assad
8 p.m. Saturday; Fogartyville Community Media and Arts Center, 525 Kumquat Court, Sarasota; $20 in advance, $25 at the door; 894-6469; wslr.org