No woman needs to want to have the life that Rita Lee chose for her, but everyone should be able to make the same choices.
This Monday (8), one of the most experienced people in the world left his home, aged 75, after an existence as intense as a big bang. It is no exaggeration to say that the queen of rock changed women’s history without ever having made plans in that direction — Rita was averse to militancy, but like any good revolutionary, not knowing what was impossible, she went there and did it.
Her childhood in an environment with all the privileges of a middle-class woman from São Paulo did not prevent Rita from experiencing the pain common to less well-off women — from a rape she suffered at age six, at home, to abortion in her second marriage, passing through chemical dependency and the late diagnosis of bipolar disorder, she did the most difficult thing while it all happened: assuming her own story without squeamishness and without letting the demands of life swallow up her immense talent.
While producing a significant portion of the best Brazilian music, Rita became something equivalent to a superhero in the collective imagination. What other married lady (and a loving mother of three) managed to score hit after hit without giving up the life of a rock star or the love of family and friends?
Because Rita Lee managed to reconcile victories that seem incompatible in any woman’s life, including living a movie love, on a journey full of adventures and surrounded by good friends. In this regard, Roberto de Carvalho, his companion for almost 50 years — and until his last breath — declared: “It is inconceivable that you are next to a star, who needs subsidies to shine, and that you oppose it, that he sees as a threat”.
Arrested during the military dictatorship for possession of marijuana, the pregnant Rita Lee was rescued from prison by none other than Elis Regina, who became her musical partner and bedpan.
In her autobiography, Rita also said that she was picked up from the gutter by Hebe Camargo when she had problems with alcoholism. Rita was the first peck that Hebe gave on TV, inaugurating the gesture that would be the presenter’s signature for the rest of her career.
Among the countless milestones that Rita Lee Jones set in the behavior of a generation, perhaps the most precious is the notion that it is not advisable for any girl to ask permission to get where she wants to go. She could talk about music, gangbangers, drugs or family with the same naturalness.
For any other woman who tries to do the same, I wish the protection of Santa Rita de Sampa and the best of luck.
The complete absence of fear of rejection, which is one of the most human things there is, was precisely why everyone loved Rita Lee. That was also the reason why the artist seemed to come from another planet or live in another time. While we were here dealing with the day’s news, Rita was clearly living in the year 3000 AD, drinking life to the bone.
In his condolence note to her friend, composer Carlinhos Brown made a beautiful summary of what it is to witness the existence of someone like her: “Rita, time traveller, you will always be the black sheep that leads the shepherd, that messes up the creeds and which shows the true path of faith which is to love others”.
Rita Lee can even go, but this mania for living stays with us.
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