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Brazil: Stefhany, Authentic Pop Star Rises from the Web

Photo from her Official Blog

Stefhany's tour bus from her Official Blog

Stefhany is known as “Beyonce from Piauí”. Her first video “Eu sou Stefhany” [I am Stefhany], uploaded to Youtube by a friend and fan, has had almost 2 million views so far. Her first video was a version for the song “A thousand miles”, from Vanessa Carlton, which included a version of  Beyonce's “All the Single Ladies“ choreography.  She is inspired by mostly female pop stars, but produces remakes of their work with the resources availed for a new born internet star. Some think that her work is corny [pt], and some say the opposite [pt]. The fact is that though her work was once considered “viral”, there is no doubt that she is now part of the Brazilian Popular Music Scene. Blogger Fabinho Vieira, from Doce de Pimenta [Pepper Sweet, pt] explains the important role internet has played in her success:

Não que eu a ache a mais bela de todas, ou a melhor cantora, ou por ela ser absoluta. Mas pelo fato dela ser, simplesmente, ela. Não sou fã desses estilos (…), mas defendo que são expressões que merecem respeito, principalmente porque fogem dos conceitos impostos por uma mídia elitista, dando voz a um povo, que é a maioria, e verdadeiro consumidor da própria cultura, provando que, mesmo quando há uma mídia (e jabás) impondo o que se deve consumir, as pessoas sabem o que querem, e procuram.

Considero a internet uma grande colaboradora disso. (…) A explosão da nova cantora veio por uma razão a mim estranha: ela foge dos padrões. Assim como Joelma do Calypso já fugia, mas não com tanta inocência e convicção (nem vídeos tão toscos). Foi justamente essa tosqueira que rodeia Stefhany que fez dela um fenômeno. E como todo fenômeno, a mídia quer explorá-lo até onde puder (…) às custas de seu sotaque “exótico”, nordestino e de seus figurinos criados pela própria mãe.

It's not that I think of her as the most beautiful woman, or the best singer or because she is “absolut”, but for the fact that she is simply herself. I'm not a fan of this music (…), but I respect it as cultural expression, mainly because it doesn't follow mainstream media concepts, but it gives a voice to the people, who are the main consumers of their own culture, proving that, even with the media imposing what people should consume, people know what they want and look for.

I consider the internet a major contributor to that. (…) The reason of her success is for me strange: it avoids the patterns as Joelma from Calypso once did, but not with so much innocence and conviction (or corny videos). It is exactly because of the lack of patterns that Stefhany became a phenomenon. And like any phenomenon the media wants to exploy it as far as it is possible in spite of her exotic and northeastern accent and her clothes created by her mother.

Watch “Eu sou Stefhany” [I am Stefhany] at Youtube:

From Piauí to Fame

The fact that Stefhany [pt] is from Piauí does make a difference in the hype wave she is causing and also in the way she is seen by the media and general public. Piauí, in the Northeast of Brazil, borders Bahia, Pernambuco, Ceará and Maranhão and shares the exaggerated stereotype [pt] of most cities from this region: a poor state [pt] with very hot weather, great beaches, high taxes of unemployment and rural exodus, people with funny accents and exotic taste for music.

As for music, the northeastern region is one of the most creative parts of the country. The musical atmosphere of Piauí, has direct influence on Stefhany’s style. Forró, one of the most popular musical genres from the Northeast, can easily be identified in the artist's music style of melody and harmony, as well as for her use of instruments and musical effects. Moreover, Calypso [an Afro-Caribbean music, but also the name of a very famous band from the north of Brazil, pt], is also seen as an influence to Stefhany’s music.

No one is indifferent to such artistic exoticism. Zeca Camargo writes about the cloud of controversy surrounding Stefhany when he posted about her in his blog:

Quando eu escrevi sobre Stephany, em abril do ano passado, a desconfiança de boa parte das pessoas que leram era tão grande, que não faltaram comentários insinuando que eu estava usando o vídeo da cantora para disfarçadamente humilhá-la, criticá-la, e diminuir seu trabalho – quando minhas intenções, dentro da minha fé no universo pop, tinham o objetivo exatamente oposto: elogiar sua iniciativa (teve gente que chegou até a insinuar que eu estava usando a Stefhany como desculpa para falar mal de toda a cultura do Piauí).

Last April, when I wrote about Stefhany, most people became suspicious about my post. Lots of comments were insinuating that I was using her video to disguisedly humiliate her, criticize and diminish her work – when my intentions, in my faith of the pop music universe, were to do exactly the opposite: to complement her initiative (some people insinuated that I was using Stefhany to say bad things about Piauí’s culture.)

Stefhany has also caught the attention of big corporate groups who have been using her image to promote products, namely car brands which she inserted in her lyrics, raising a true wave of strong opinions among netcitizens, as thoroughly reported in the website Stefhany Trocou de Carro [Stefhany has Switched her Car - watch the video in English].

In order to show she doesn’t care about the bad critics (or to use it as good marketing), she wrote her last work song “Falem mal, mas falem de mim” [You can praise or gossip about me, as long as you keep talking about me.].

Watch the video with English subtitles:

Stefhany’s Artistic Path

As an authentic Internet Pop Star, Stefhany recently launched her new album for free download, following her typical marketing technique based on the upload to Youtube of a home made video. This technique allows her to update her followers about her new tunes. She recognizes the importance of Youtube in her career, as she wrote in her personal twitter account on May 18th:

@StefhanyCross hoje o youtube está completando 5 anos, e eu estou parabenizando ele por existir e por me tornar conhecida pelo mundo todo.

Today Youtube is 5 years old and I am congratulating it for its existence and for making me famous all around the world.

Stefhany's Youtube Channel

Stefhany's genuine nature, strong personality and great self-esteem got her unexpected attention from the public. Since her first video “Eu sou Stefhany” [I am Stefhany], in which she says she is “absolute”, meaning she is a gorgeous and confident woman, a lot of women adopted her motto. In the northeastern part of the country, her concerts usually have an audience larger than the whole population of her home town, Inhuma.

In her lyrics and extravagant videos she likes to show her self as an independent and sexy woman who does not need anyone to be happy. The twittosphere shows a great respect for the artist:

@McestrelinhaFly melhor do q funk só musica da Stefhany [ to falando seerioo, intaum canta musica da DEWA ABSOLUUTA *-*

Only Stefhany is better than funk. I’m serious. So sing the music form the absolute diva

@eDDuLeroy Posso falar? Não que eu escute o estilo de música daStefhany, mas dentro do que ela se propõe a fazer, faz MUITO BEM.

Can I say this? It’s not that I listen to Stefhany’s style of music, but in what she intends to do, she does it very well.

@ArthurLobato50 STEFHANY É MUITO DIVA, O QUE VOCÊS ACHAM DELA

Stefhany is a great diva, what do you think about her?

Going through all the positive and negative comments online, it is evident that Stefhany can definitely provoke intense declarations, either of love or hate. However no one can doubt her authentic personality and artistic style, and how the internet made possible the birth of a very important Brazilian pop star. And the fact that she is a woman and from the Northeast is just a plus. An interesting critic point of view from blog Na Cidade dos Outros [In the City of Others, pt] synthesizes Stefhany phenomenon:

Não resisti em fazer um post sobre a riqueza que um vídeo como esse representa. ele pode ser usado como símbolo da cultura digital por escancarar questões frequentemente discutidas por empresários da indústria cultural, como plágio relativo à remix de melodia, e aqui também à dancinha famosa de beyonce. (…) O novo sucesso de Stefhany não deve ser tão ridicularizado como fazem em comentários no youtube com a intenção de mostrar-se distante desse universo popular, mas sim visto como um exemplo nítido do uso em comum à internet, feito por todas classes.

I couldn’t resist on writing a post about the richness of what a video of this kind represents. It can be used as a symbol of the digital culture for bringing to life frequent questions discussed by business men of the industrial culture, like melody remix plagiarism, and in this case also Beyonce’s famous dance. (…) Stefhany’s new success shouldn’t be mocked the way it’s happening at youtube comments only with the intention to show yourself away from the popular sphere, but it should be seen as a bright example of the use of the internet of people from all social classes.
This article was proofread by Marta Cooper.

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