Concert at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit
Dada Nabhaniilananda gained a lot of new fans in Rio last night. Following John Denver’s solo performance, the singer/songwriter from New Zealand, backed by a group of hot Brazilian musicians, came on stage for an hour long set.
No-one knew quite what to expect from this smiling monk in orange robes but they didn’t wonder for long. Within moments he had them on his side, his clear melodic voice transcending any language gap. Brazilians know quality musicianship when they hear it, and they showed their appreciation with pin-drop silence, the crowd of 5000 plus listening as I’ve seldom seen them do.
If a special atmosphere prevailed, it should have, for this
was the beginning of a night long spiritual vigil incorporating diverse religious and spiritual groups.
Dada’s songs were perfect for the occasion. In case you haven’t been reading the newspapers, this was part the “Earth Summit”, an international gathering of more than 30,000 people united by a concern for social justice and a sustainable future for the world. When the band performed “Warriors of the Rainbow”, the title track of Dadas’ last album, a kind of anthem for the environmental movement, at the songs dramatic climax the audience went a little wild, which in Brazil means very wild indeed!
This was followed by spiritual love songs, tales of struggle against oppression, songs of hope and compassion – moving stuff. The music was accompanied by a stunning slide show illustrating the stories behind the songs. Part of the beauty of the whole experience was that although this was undoubtedly music with a message, it was presented with such simple honesty and obvious native talent that I only wanted to listen. It was over all too soon, but I’ve got the album, so I can reminisce.
The vigil continued all night with chanting, dance, meditation, and at dawn the stage opened again. Just before the Dalai Lama, the guest of honour, came on to speak, Dada was again on stage, accompanied by Paul Winter in a spiritual chant in which the much larger crowd of more than 10,000 joined. Magic!
Rio Times 1992 (translated from Portugese)