Guillaume is the music aficionado of the family. For years, he's been a devoted admirer of several genres of Brazilian music. In his eyes, samba, which Caetano Veloso fittingly described as being "the father of pleasure but the son of pain", epitomises the essence of Brazil, which is so skilled at exorcizing sadness and suffering through the spontaneous expression of exuberant joy. After all, it was slaves, who defiantly danced and sang their sorrows away once a year in a huge celebratory explosion, who are at the root of carnival. In most genres, the cultural diversity of the country is also reflected. Forro, which some call the "country music" of Brazil and is its most popular genre, borrows heavily from Portuguese instruments, just as samba borrows both from Portuguese fado and from African rythm and beats. When it then mixed with freer forms of jazz, mostly from the USA, samba was rechristened bossa nova. As elsewhere in Latin America, music also served as an important vehicle for social and generational protest during the turbulent military rule years of the sixties. Artists have therefore played key roles. Gilberto Gil famously suffered imprisonment and exile in his youth before being becoming Minister of Culture in Lula's government.
Admittedly, neither Leanne nor Guillaume have much knowledge of Brazilian literature - limited to a novel of Chico Buarque's (himself a famous bossa nova singer). On the other hand, we have consumed tons of brilliant Brazilian cinema. Some key films of recent years have provided amazing windows into the challenges and beauty of modern Brazilian society.