Heitor Salatiel

Body PoliticsBrazilMusic

the light and sound of luedji luna

August 14, 2019
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When 32 year-old Luedji Luna appears on stage, she is 5’11”of pure power. Luedji looks like an African queen and owns a voice that sings powerful verses that she writes herself. Her moves also hint at royalty — with a mixture of the youthful kid who grew up in Salvador, thrown in for good measure. 

Luedji is one of new Brazilian music’s rising talents, having recently embakred on her first international tour, throughout Europe and Canada. The singer’s newest album, Um Corpo no Mundo, also reached the top 5 on World Music Charts Europe, a radio parade and world music program, this past July.

Her full name is Luedji Gomes Santa Rita, and she grew up knowing that her first name meant friendship but recently discovered that it could also be translated as “river.” 

“I like the river idea, it has a lot of wisdom,” she says when AFROPUNK spoke to her recently. “We were educated to be a force, which is masculine, gross, solid and water brings another teaching, which is to have this flexibility, this spell to find breaches, ways to reach the sea and has the same force that transforms.”

About the last artistically chose last name, Luna, she says it was adopted when she was a teenager when used to hang out with “geek kids from high school.”

Luedji Luna performing (photo: Heitor Salatiel)

 “There was a boy from another room who was reading a book that a teenager doesn’t read. And I asked which book is this. And he said, ‘It’s because my mother is a witch, and I’m a wizard, this is a witchcraft book.’ He explained it to me and lent it to me”, Luedji remembers. She read the book in one afternoon and first learned about matriarchy, and began a reverence of women who were free, who had autonomy over their bodies. “That seemed very empowering to a teenage girl with low self-esteem. It was nothing like what I felt, but I thought, if it exists, I want to be. So one day I said: ‘I want to be a witch. What is it like to become one? ‘ I got together with other people considered ‘the strange ones’ and we set up a big gathering of witches, ” she says.

Each group participant was given a name. They all had a witch’s wand. With the group, Luedji began researching and immersing herself  in the spiritual, becoming a vegetarian in the process. 

“This was very important at this stage, when self-esteem was low, [when I was] being bullied, which I later found to be racism,” she remembers. “This violence at school stopped because I started to impose myself, to say that I felt safer, more of a woman.” Although witchcraft is not a religion, the singer says it is a way of thinking very closely linked to nature, just like candomblé, which she believes and practices.  

When asked what it is to be a Black woman, Luedji is emphatic and replies that it is being disrespected all the time. “No one ever looks at us, no matter their age, no matter what. It is extremely tiring to be a Black woman because we can only count on ourselves. We cannot count on Black men, white women, white men. We can’t count on anyone but ourselves.”

In the field of sexuality, Luedji says she is inspired by the words of Monica Benicio, the wife of murdered councilwoman Marielle Franco, who says she likes all people but politically finds it important to assert herself as a lesbian. “I don’t even believe in these categories. I think that sexuality is fluid and, with each passing day, I confirm this with my experiences.”

Luedji Luna just dropped a new track and video, “Dentro Ali,” which also features Moe Moks and Illa J, and was recorded at SxSW 2019.