As those in my musical circles are aware, I have a Brazilian name. I am Maracujá.
Maracujá is the Portuguese name of a passion fruit (Passiflora edulis) native to many South American countries, including Brazil. It is often used in desserts and drinks (including the caipirinha, a famous Brazilian beverage, as well as bottled fruit drinks, such as depicted in the photo below). In addition, it is known as a mild sedative, and it is an active ingredient in numerous sleep aids in Brazil.
I love the name. It means a lot to me. There is affection and friendship imbued in it, and as you can see it is also relevant to my career and my work.
Maracujá was bestowed upon me by my friend, Eduardo Mendonça, leader of the Seattle-based band Show Brazil!. During an outdoor festival performance last year, Eduardo introduced me to the audience as Maracujá for the first time. He also told the crowd that this was to be a christening: he summoned everybody to shout out the name after him. Three times a crowd of hundreds of people roared my new name. All I could do was bow in gratitude and humility. It was a wonderful experience, and I have Eduardo to thank forever for that brief but profound life moment. Eduardo has introduced me to our audiences with this name ever since.
During a recent chat over coffee I asked Eduardo to recount how he came up with this title that is now mine.
MC: As you know, you are the one who christened me with this name, Maracujá, which I hold sacred, personally, and which I appreciate very much. I was hoping you could talk about how you arrived at the name, and what it means historically and culturally in Brazil.
EM: Sure. To baptize you with this name was very much an honor for me, because giving a Brazilian name to someone requires a very strong connection, a connection with what you do and what kind of person you are. To best represent you, I came up with the Maracujá name because of the work that you do, helping people with sleep disorders and making life better, right? That’s very important, you thinking of the well-being of someone. How I could connect that, your work and yourself as a person helping others with a Brazilian meaning that could represent you very well? Maracujá is used in Brazil as a natural medicine to relax people. Some people put in a lot of sugar, even though sugar doesn’t go well with relaxing. But if you put in the right dose of sugar, it would be fine, and would really create a natural relaxing time and relaxing moment, to help you with sleep, to help you calm down, and that’s how I came up with the name for you. It was not difficult at all to connect it to what you are, what you do, with something in Brazil that is a function that can make things good for somebody.
MC: There’s clearly a deep connection between relaxation and sleep. Is it known in the Brazilian culture that the passion fruit or its derivatives can help a person sleep? Does it really have a sedative property, actually make you drowsy?
EM: Yes. Of course it depends on the quantity that you have. Definitely I remember my parents, when I was a kid, preparing the passion fruit, the maracujá juice to make a very energetic kid calm down. It helped me sleep. If you give it a few hours before you go to bed, and of course if you don’t have anything else in your body to cut that effect, it definitely helps you relax and sleep.
MC: Again, I’m honored to have the name, and I wear it proudly. Thank you, Eduardo.
Show Brazil! plays all year ’round, and the summer season promises to be great this year! Obrigado, Eduardo!