With her soulful, bellowing voice, Virg?nia Rodriguez fluidly mixes spirituality and fun. Some of her songs burst with energy while others sooth you into a state of unconsciousness. Her captive voice reigns in your mind, and you are entranced far beyond the final note of her latest album, N?s (Natasha Records). Rodriguez will perform songs from her latest album and her debut album, Sol Negro, at Lisner Auditorium Wednesday.
From the opening track, you notice the spiritual twinge. On the brief one-minute and 21-second bit, Canto pra Ex?, soft drums provide the background beat as Rodriguez chants/sings the repetitive words. The song sounds like prayer as Rodriguez stops chanting the words and allows her voice takes flight.
The second song, Uma Hist?ria de If?, also uses a repetitive beat with Rodriguez’ voice layered on top. Her enchanting voice hangs high above the smooth instrumentals that merely provide the backdrop for Rodriguez. Even when the instrumentals stand alone, you almost don’t notice that Rodriguez is missing because you are so captivated.
Exotic rhythms, reminiscent of Rodriguez’s homeland Brazil, echo throughout the album. The fourth song of the album, Afrekete, embodies a South American feel. The rhythms, back-up signers and even Rodriguez herself whisk you to Brazil. Raca Negra also includes many of the Brazilian sounds. A soft shaking sound, similar to the effect rain makes, and the soft thumping of a bongo drum fills the background. Even if you do not speak Portuguese, the title of the song is easily translated into Negro Race.
On Oj? Ob?, as she does on a few other songs on the album, Rodriguez mixes English and Portuguese. However, it’s difficult to delineate between the two. Her rotund voice hides the words and she seems to be singing sounds, not actual lyrics. Yet, the words are inconsequential to the overall appeal of the music. Some artists rely on witty lyrics to capture the attention of listeners. Rodriguez relies on her talent alone to enchant listeners.
Throughout N?s, Rodriguez takes you on a spiritual journey. Her voice calms and energizes simultaneously. If she can perform with such verve in a recording studio, she must truly dazzle in a live performance. Inevitably, her voice will hang in the rafters of Lisner Auditorium and the concert will feel more like a spiritual gathering in Brazil than a concert in Washington, D.C.
Virg?nia Rodriguez performs at Lisner Auditorium Wednesday at 8 p.m.