Anna Salleh’s discovery of her passion for Brazilian jazz and Bossa nova

Anna Salleh

Anna Salleh’s discovery of her passion for Brazilian jazz and Bossa nova

Photo credit: Max Mason-Hubers

When Anna Salleh heard the irresistible beats and melodies of Brazilian jazz for the very first time as a young girl, she was instantly hooked.

She was in Malaysia at the time, accompanying her father to his film club, where together they watched Black Orpheus (1959). The film tells the story of Orpheus and Eurydice against a background of the favelas of Rio de Janeiro and the famous Brazilian Carnival.

But what really stood out to Anna was the film’s soundtrack, which features the unforgettable ‘Manhã de Carnaval’ (Morning of Carnival) by Brazilian composer Luiz Bonfá and lyricist Antônio Maria.

After watching the film, Anna quickly developed a love for Brazilian music, which only grew over the decades. She decided to pursue guitar and percussion lessons and later travelled to Brazil to truly immerse herself in the musical culture.

“I wanted to go to the source. I immersed myself in learning about the origins of these rhythms and melodies that had seduced me as a child. It was just amazing,” Anna shared.

                                                        Anna jamming in Pelourinho, Salvador, Brazil

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Anna spent three months travelling through Brazil – immersing herself in the culture, music and language, having jam sessions and connecting with other musicians. She took particular interest in the Bossa nova style, which she describes as a minimalist form of samba. Throughout her travels, Anna was struck by how different the rhythms were from those she was used to hearing in Australia.

Coming from a Malay background, Anna has noticed some similarities between traditional Malay music and Bossa nova.

“Malay melodies are very smooth and very mellow. And that, of course, is important when you’re singing Bossa nova. You’ve got to be almost spoken, very mellow, very smooth and not shrieky at all,” she explained.

As a child, Anna loved singing along to her father’s records of Ella Fitzgerald and Nina Simone. Today, she draws a lot of her inspiration from singers who communicate strong emotions through their music. Even when Anna sings in Portuguese, English-speaking audiences have connected to her music.

“People say, ‘I don’t know what you’re singing about, but I get it'”.

                                                                         Photo credit: David Brazil

“Brazilian music historically has had many influences and millions of people around the world appreciate the music, the vocals, the rhythm. I’m proud that we can continue the influence of the Portuguese language through song to the younger generations across the world,” shared Marica Percival – Brazilian Community Leader and Social Media Influencer.

Anna’s guitar teacher Guy Strazz was the one who first encouraged her to visit Brazil. When she returned to Australia, the two reconnected and decided to combine their musical talents into a collaboration.

Guy’s melodies, which often carry an Afro-Brazilian tone, are coupled with Anna’s lyrics and smooth vocals. The pair is also joined by horn player Loretta Palmeiro and percussionist Jess Ciampa.

Anna will be performing a concert with Guy Strazz at Foundry 616 (Sydney) on the 19th of December. The performance will feature a variety of music in both English and Portuguese, ranging from mellow, dreamy ballads to up-tempo Latin dance rhythms.

Seating is limited, and tickets can be purchased HERE.

To learn more about Anna Salleh, click HERE.


Isabel Zakharova

Isabel Zakharova is a final-year student at UTS, studying Communications and International Studies. She loves reading, writing and exploring other cultures - through travel, film and cuisine. Got a story to tell? Get in touch: [email protected]