SHOWTIMES: 7:00PM AND 9:00PM. Born in 1966 in São João da Boa Vista, São Paulo, Brazil; daughter of Jorge (an amateur mandolin player) and Angelina (a singer); sister of Sérgio and Odair (Duo Assad).
Badi Assad (pronounced Bah-djee Ah-sahj) was one of the truly unique talents to emerge from the world music scene during the 1990s. As the younger sister of the internationally acclaimed classical guitarists Sérgio and Odair Assad (known as Duo Assad), her musical roots are deep. Born in 1966 in São João da Boa Vista in the Brazilian state of São Paulo, the first musical instrument Assad studied, though rather informally, was piano. She did not play guitar until she was 14 years old, at first accompanying her father, Jorge, who played the bandolim (a stringed instrument akin to the mandolin and the guitarra portuguesa).
Over the next four years, Badi was taught by her older brothers and father; she also studied guitar at the University of Rio de Janeiro, practicing 12 hours a day. During her teen years she entered guitar competitions. The turning point in her budding career came in 1984 when she decided to take up Brazilian music and began studying voice as well; for the latter she has credited her mother, Angelina, as being her greatest inspiration. In that same year Badi won the Concurso Jovens Instrumentistas (Young Instrumentalists Contest) in Rio de Janeiro. In 1985 she studied guitar at the Conservatory in Rio de Janeiro.
Besides voice, Badi also learned to use mouth and body percussion techniques that she combined with her guitar playing to create a unique style that set her apart from her famous brothers. In 1987 she entered the International Villa-Lobos Festival where she was named Best Brazilian Guitarist. By then she had worked with such musicians as Pat Metheny and Milton Nascimento. In 1988 she composed Antagonismus, a solo piece of performance art in which she played guitar, sang, danced, and acted.
The best-known song on Chameleon is a cover of George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” About its inclusion, Badi admitted in her ARTISTDirect online biography, “[the song] represents the connection between me, the guitar, and the audience.” However not all critics were bowled over by her rendition of the song, nor by Chameleon. Geoff Chapman of the Toronto Star wrote that her cover of the song was “tedious.” Of the album as a whole he described it as a blend of “pop, Flamenco and neo-jazz in a cheerful kaleidoscope of moods that amounts to little more than happy songs and instrumental dexterity despite exotic backing combos and incendiary hype.”