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Pablo Regis and Cissa Paz Human Being Productions (c) Maryland State Arts Council

Pablo Regis & Cissa Paz

Brazilian cavaco music College Park, Maryland
Photo Credit: Human Being Productions. © Maryland State Arts Council
Pablo Regis and Cissa Paz Human Being Productions (c) Maryland State Arts Council

The Brazilian cavaco provides the heart and swing of Brazilian music. There is no greater champion for its soulful sound in the DMV than Pablo Regis de Oliveira.

Also known as the cavaquinho, this four-stringed ukulele of Portuguese origin is present in several Brazilian folk genres—most notably samba, Brazil’s national music. Heard throughout the country, samba boasts several regional and rhythmic variations, from the samba de roda de Recôncavo (stemming from enslaved Africans in Bahia, Brazil) to carioca samba (an urban adaptation). All variations are known for having equal parts call-and-response singing, harmonic instrumentation, and Afro-Brazilian percussion. The cavaco, with its four metal strings, provides musical balance between harmony and percussion.

Born in the Brazilian capital of Brasilia, raised in Los Angeles, and now an educator and musician residing in College Park, Pablo grew up surrounded by samba. He began by playing guitar as a teenager but soon took up the cavaco as a young adult. Training under masterful musicians Alessandro Pennezzi, Arlandinho do Cavaco, Colin Walker, and more, Pablo has been practicing the cavaco’s artful sounds for over two decades. His passion for Brazilian traditional music led him to found LA Choro while living in Los Angeles, and upon moving to Maryland, he created a learning and performing presence for Brazilian musical expressions. Pablo established DC Choro and has performed in such noted regional venues as the Kennedy Center, Strathmore, and the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center (University of Maryland). In 2018, he was awarded an Individual Artist Award from the Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC).

Through his work, Pablo met Cissa Paz, a fellow Brazilian, a student of various Brazilian musical expressions—from samba and bossa nova to afoxé—and an accomplished singer in her own right. They began collaborating on various projects, Pablo strumming the cavaco and Cissa crooning her melodies. In 2021-22, they received a Folklife Apprenticeship Award from MSAC to explore more deeply the cavaco and its role in Brazilian music and song.

At the festival, they will present their work together, performing various samba styles, with accompaniment on bass, keys, and percussion.

For more about Cissa Paz, check out her website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube Channel.

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