Priscilla Peixoto – Cenarium Magazine
MANAUS – The month of December is coming to an end and brings with it the memories that potentiate the nostalgia left by Cássia Eller. Elected in 2008 one of the greatest national artists by Rolling Stones magazine, the singer made history in Brazilian music. Every year, fans, artists, friends, family members and those who respect Cassia’s legacy have the feeling of admiration aroused in the month that would celebrate her birthday and also the 20 years since the death of the owner of one of the most remarkable voices in the country.
Born on December 10, 1962, in Rio de Janeiro, Cássia Rejane Eller died prematurely on the 29th of the same month, in 2001. The loss of the singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, due to a heart attack, ended the promising road of the artist who was living the peak of her career because of the success of the CD and DVD ‘Acústico MTV’, which sold more than a million copies and was considered one of the best acoustics produced by the television network.
Over time, the pain and sadness for the unexpected departure were taken over by tributes full of affection and good memories, as is the case of musician Walter Vilaça. The famous Brazilian guitarist, who has worked with several big names in the music scene, played with Cássia Eller for eight years and makes a point to keep alive the memory of her musical partner.
“I worked with Cassia for almost eight years and it was the best experience I had in my life. Oh! Luck!”, says the musician in an interview with CENARIUM. For Vilaça, sharing with ‘Cassilda’, as he affectionately calls her, the guitar chords at the beginning of his journey is a moment that has been marked in his memory.
“All the work I did with her marked me very much, but I have a special affection for the guitars, which was when I started working at the beginning of my musical career”, recalls the musician, who stresses: “I like all the albums and shows, and since I lived through them, I am very suspicious to speak, but the Rock in Rio concert was for history. And for those who haven?t seen it yet, here is a hint”, says Walter.
When asked what is the main legacy left by Eller both as an artist and as a person, Walter immediately says: “Cássia was one of the greatest singers of all time. “Cássia was one of the greatest singers and interpreters in the world and she left an indisputable legacy as a feminine force, without any kind of prejudice. Listen to Cássia’s work because it is essential for good ears. Music heals and Cássia is extremely important to our culture”, advises the musician.
Tributes and ties
One of Cássia’s best known partnerships was with the singer and composer Nando Reis. Besides a working relationship, the two built a beautiful and strong friendship that resulted in one of the songs made by Nando that was given as a gift to his friend, where he poetizes the Carioca neighborhood Laranjeiras, in the lyrics of All star (2000).
Last December 10, the singer posted on his YouTube channel a video to celebrate the emblematic date, which even resulted in a posthumous album produced by Nando, entitled ‘Dez de Dezembro’. In the video ‘Memories of Cassia Eller’, Nando answers several questions and curiosities from fans about their relationship.
Among the revelations is about Cassia’s musical tastes, intimate conversations, first impressions. One of the highlight phrases of the singer, who has always declared his passion for Cássia’s person was about how he would describe his friend and artist.
“She was a fascinating person in her complexities, in her hidden unfathomable faces, mysterious. Which is always from a sophisticated person from the point of view of her songwriting. It’s all there in her music and in the way she interprets it, what I can say is, listen to her records, because nothing I can say comes close to what Cássia was, and the totality of Cássia that nobody has reached is in her work”, described Nando Reis.
For the music producer and singer Mencius Melo, the figure of Cassia Eller is a music icon, of attitude and stage posture. The artist from Amazonas had the opportunity to see up close the singer’s performances, who is also one of the artist’s musical references.
“Cássia Eller is a heroine of contemporary music, a myth that passes through generations. Her posture that united attitude, firmness, and sensuality was unique. Nobody sang the feminine with such aggressiveness as she did. Cássia came to hypnotize those who watched her on stage. She was not only music, Cássia Eller was an attitude. A necessary voice. A strange provocation that never found a similarity in Brazilian music. Twenty years after her departure I hear her music, her interpretation, that big voice, and all I feel is gratitude and a huge longing”, says Mencius.
An open bisexual, Cassia had a son with Brazilian bassist and composer Tavinho Fialho, who died in a car accident shortly before the birth of their son, Francisco Eller. In a country where the rights of LGBTQIA+ people are almost nothing, the custody of ‘Chicão’, then 8 years old, went to her partner Maria Eugenia. The death of the artist was a milestone for the community, setting precedents for other custody cases between homo-affective couples.
The fact opened space for the debate and acceptance of the new Brazilian family format, discussed until today. Nowadays, as an adult, every now and then Chico, the artistic name adopted by Francisco Eller, talks about the importance and legacy left by his mother on the subject. In an interview for UOL, in January of this year, Chico says he admires the history and struggle of mothers in the name of love and companionship.
“I really admire my mothers’ battle. Without a doubt it is part of who I am, and I am very proud of it. They got married. They are both military daughters, and even though everything later turned out fine, they had to face family resistance. We tend to romanticize these narratives, of fighting for love and everything working out in the end. But does it really have to be a war that is won only in the end? Can’t it be more simple?”, asks the singer.
Spirit of Sound
With a discography with songs of various genres, the singer recently had her voice recorded on music platforms with the release of ‘Espírito do Som’, by Péricles Cavalcanti and Chico Evangelista. The song is a blues presented in a show in Brasília, in 1985, and marks a sequence of tributes to the singer, which will be held in 2022 in celebration of Cássia’s 60th birthday.
Throughout her life, Cassia Eller traveled through different cities like Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Santarém, in Pará, and Brasília, the place where she started working with music. She sang in choirs, forró, took part in a samba group, sang with Oswaldo Montenegro, and began to make a name for herself in the 1990s.
With the Acústico CD, he won the Latin Grammy Award for Best Brazilian Rock Album of that year, and consequently started an exhaustive schedule of concerts. From May to December 2001, the artist performed at least 95 concerts.
Two days before the end of a successful and consecrated year for the singer from Rio de Janeiro, Cassia did not resist after suffering three heart attacks at the Santa Maria clinic in Laranjeiras, Rio de Janeiro. At the time, there was much speculation that the motivation for her early departure was caused by drug use, information that did not hold up after the verification of toxicological tests.
The results of the tests contradicted the statement given by the singer in an interview for a magazine where she affirmed that she had been free of drugs for at least two years. Even after her death, Cassia reached more than two million listeners on Spotify, proof that even though she was not physically present, death did not silence the voice of the singer ‘spirit of sound’.