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Lia de Itamaracá

Data Birth.:

Brazilian ciranda dancer, songwriter and singer

Lia de Itamaracá

Article available in: PT-BR ESP

Last update: 28/08/2009

By: Lúcia Gaspar - Librarian of the Fundação Joaquim Nabuco

Maria Madalena Correia do Nascimento was born on 12 January 1944, on Itamaracá Island, Pernambuco.

She has always lived on the Island and began to participate in ‘ciranda’ (a type of regional music) circles at the age of 12. She was the only one of 22 children to be dedicated to music. According to her, she was given a gift from God and a blessing from Iemanjá.

A simple woman, 1.80m in height, she has sang and composed since childhood and today is considered the most famous ‘cirandeira’ (someone who sings ‘ciranda’ songs) from Northeast Brazil.

She works as a lunch lady in a state public school and, in her spare time, dedicates herself to music and ‘ciranda’, as well as singing and composing ‘cocos de roda’ and ‘maracatus’.

The composer Teca Calazans was one of the first people interested in popular Northeast culture to discover her talent and ended up doing some work in partnership with her, such as recording music from the public domain and writing compositions.

Maria Madalena began to be known as Lia de Itamaracá in the 1960s and is the source of a famous refrain, gathered by composer Teca Calazans: Oh cirandeiro/cirandeiro oh/ a pedra do teu anel brilha mais do que o sol (Oh ‘ciranda’ singer, oh/ the rock in your ring shines brighter than the sun). In this verse, Teca incorporated an informative tone, which was also a huge success: Esta ciranda quem me deu foi Lia/ que mora na ilha de Itamaracá (Who gave me this ‘ciranda’ was Lia/ who lives on Itamaracá Island).

In 1977, Lia recorded her first album entitled A rainha da ciranda (The Queen of Ciranda), not receiving, however, any payment for her work.

But two decades later she was rediscovered when the music producer Beto Hees took her to participate in the Abril Pro Rock Festival held in Recife and Olinda in 1998, where she was a big hit and became known throughout Brazil. Before that, she was only famous in Pernambuco and among composers and scholars of popular Northeast culture.

In 2000, her CD Eu Sou Lia (I am Lia) was released by Ciranda Records and mixed by Rob Digital, whose repertoire includes ‘coco de raiz’ and ‘loas de maracatu’, as well as ‘cirandas’ accompanied by percussion and saxophone.

The CD ended up being distributed in France by a world music label and the raspy voice of Lia drew the attention of international press, who started to call her songs trance music in an attempt to explain the “trance” that her sound caused to the public.

Although she obtained success late, she has done international tours which have received good reviews. The New York Times called her a “diva of black music”.

In Brasil, Lia has also gained popularity. She participated on a track on the CD Rádio Samba, by Nação Zumbi, had her name cited in verses of the Pernambuco composers Lenine and Otto, and music critics compare her to Clementina de Jesus.

Lia’s Pernambuco ‘cirandas’ are sung by many. In terms of Pernambuco culture, Lia de Itamaracá is today one of the living legends of the State and continues to live on Itamaracá Island.

Eu sou Lia [Ciranda de Lia] (I am Lia [Lia’s Ciranda])
(Paulinho da Viola)

Eu sou Lia da beira do mar (I am Lia from the sea shore)
Morena queimada do sal e do sol (Brunette burned by the salt and the sun)
Da Ilha de Itamaracá (Of Itamaracá Island)

Quem conhece a Ilha de Itamaracá (Who knows Itamaracá Island)

Nas noites de lia (On Lia’s nights)
Prateando o mar (Making the sea silver)
Eu me chamo Lia e vivo por lá (My name is Lia and live over there)

Cirandando a vida na beira do mar (Dancing ciranda for life on the sea shore)
Cirandando a vida na beira do mar (Dancing ciranda for life on the sea shore)

Vejo o firmamento, vejo o mar sem fim (I see the heavens, I see the endless sea)
E a natureza ao redor de mim (And nature around me)

Me criei cantando (I grew up singing)
Entre o céu e o mar (Between the sky and the sea)

Nas praias da Ilha de Itamaracá (On the beaches of Itamaracá Island)
Nas praias da Ilha de Itamaracá (On the beaches of Itamaracá Island)

Minha ciranda (My Cirands)

Minha ciranda não é minha só (My ciranda is not just mine)
Ela é de todos nós (It’s all of ours)
A melodia principal quem (The main melody that)
Guia é a primeira voz (Guides is the first voice)

Pra se dançar ciranda (To dance ciranda)
Juntamos mão com mão (We hold hands)
Formando uma roda (Form a circle)
Cantando uma canção (Singing a song)

Recife, 29 August 2005.
(Updated on 28 August 2009.)
Translated by Peter Leamy, February 2011.

sources consulted

EU sou Lia. Disponível em: <> Acesso em: 22 ago. 2005.

FALCÃO, Aluízio. Lia de Itamaracá: a estrela das cirandas brilha em disco raro. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: 24 ago. 2005.

LIA de Itamaracá. Disponível em: <,6993,EPT539148-1661,00.html>. Acesso em: 23 ago. 2005.

LIA de Itamaracá. Disponível em: <> Acesso em: 24 ago. 2005.

how to quote this text

Source: GASPAR, Lúcia. Lia de Itamaracá. Pesquisa Escolar On-Line, Joaquim Nabuco Foundation, Recife. Available at: <>. Accessed: day month year. Exemple: 6 Aug. 2009.