How to Become Brave Through Songwriting

Bárbara Tinoco

Words: Tomás Monteiro
Photo: Sebas Ferreira

Rewinding to the summer of 2018, Bárbara Tinoco went to a blind audition for The Voice Portugal. 
She had the best outcome a portuguese contestant has ever had, even though she didn’t turn any chairs. After not going through, she was asked to sing an original song, which caught everyone’s attention, including her current manager’s. And, a few months later, she filmed a music video for that song. It describes, almost step by step, a love story between two people.
Fast forwarding to today, that song has amassed almost ten million views and around five million streams in a bit less than three years; and it opens her recently launched debut album.

Bárbara entered the music scene in Portugal not only by proving that talent shows don’t define your career in music but she also brought a fresh approach to songwriting in portuguese. 
She’s now twenty two years old but she started songwriting at a very young age. She’s inspired by love and she clearly portrays how coming of age can be for every other teenager. We could even say that she’s a very special girl next door, writing simple but yet very meaningful songs that describe love and life as they are. 
Once we come across any of her interviews we can get a glimpse of what’s behind her songs and, by getting to know the background of them, we get invited to go across many layers and see the purity of her words and catchy melodies. 

We’re now at a sold out Coliseu dos Recreios waiting for her to come on stage. The album she’s presenting is, as she puts it, “her journal” to the world and it’s the beginning of a beautiful letter (that we can only foresee to be as bright as she deserves).

The set begins with “Estrelas” (“Stars”) originally sung by her and Carolina Deslandes, a song that portrays a misunderstanding between her and her manager. Later on we take a walk on a world of pop music, filled with traditional folk influences mixed with the flow of someone who loves hip-hop music.
From then on, we could attempt to describe the whole show and even translate a few of her verses, but we probably wouldn’t make justice to them. 

“A songwriter must be brave. (…) For example, I was reluctant to write ‘tampons’ in a song but then I asked myself ‘Why shouldn’t I use that word in a song when it’s about something so mundane?’”.
She said this in an interview but her bravery goes far beyond using specific words on songs. 
Once we go past some of her hits, we are introduced to two beautiful stories in the form of songs: a love letter between her grandparents and a tribute to two children that passed way before time. 

Let’s quickly redefine bravery. 

If we all agree that certain themes should be approached very carefully, death is certainly one that almost became a tabu amongst western cultures. We don’t talk about it on a daily basis because it is a reminder of time passing by, in a fast paced stream uncontrollable by human kind. 
What Bárbara did here – and with all her art and career, to be honest – is a very brave step of carefully handling such a theme and wrap it in a beautiful and meaningful song. The song is called “para o Rafael e para a Maria Vitória” (“to Rafael and to Maria Vitória”) and it is one of the most beautiful lullabies we will ever listen to.

Bravery is exactly this. 
To tell your truth wether it is comfortable to others or not. To open up one’s heart for the world to see our fragilities. To book one of the most desired venues to perform in Portugal with only two songs out. To show that nothing live up to a standard of perfection and yet it can be so worth it. To not turn any chairs on The Voice and still feel that it’s right to release your own music. To show our healed wounds to the world.

And, as we see Bárbara growing as an artist, we are lucky enough to be inspired by such a brave woman as her.

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