Our first encounter with Brazilian guitarist Lari Basilio was when we stumbled upon her cover of Justin Bieber’s “I’m Sorry” on electric guitar. If you are skeptical given the cover choice, so were we—but the jaw-dropping talent displayed in her cover transcends any genre or artist you may have a preconceived notion about. We were floored and couldn’t get enough. Heck, you may even become a Belieber after watching her interpretation.
A native of São Paulo, Brazil, Basilio is a former lawyer who pursued her true passion—guitar (can we get a hallelujah?). She recently released an instrumental CD/DVD combo album, The Sound of My Room, featuring behind-the-scenes footage and 10 pummeling instrumental tracks.
Basilio stands out for her technique and versatility, and has shared the stage with music giants like Paul Gilbert and Hamilton de Holanda.
Below, the Basilio talks about her dream G3 gig, addresses musical career challenges in Latin America, and a lot more.
Visit laribasilio.com for more information.
How many years have you been playing guitar?
I’ve been playing guitar for about 14 years. I started studying organ at age four, and after I moved to acoustic guitar, and then, finally to electric guitar.
What is your dream gig?
I would love to gig with Andy Timmons or John Mayer, who are my favorite guitar players.
Let’s say you had the chance to play in a G3. Who would the other two guitarists sharing the stage with you be?
I pictured me sharing the stage with Jennifer Batten and Orianthi. How cool would a female G3 be?!
How competitive is the guitar field in Brazil? Do you feel like it’s disconnected from the rest of the world?
The guitar field in Brazil is very competitive. We have so many great guitar players here and some of them have reached international acknowledgment. That’s why I don’t think that Brazil is disconnected from the rest of the world. The Internet gives us the chance to take our work abroad, and we have to utilize it.
Your latest album, The Sound of my Room, is absolutely stellar. What are some of your favorite tracks off the album?
Thank you! Not easy to choose my favorites, but at this moment, my favorites are: “Plenitude,” “New Time” and “The Sound of My Room.”
What is something you wish people knew about the music scene in Brazil?
Yes! Here we have a very nice instrumental music scene with a lot of great musicians and awesome music. I’m part of this scene and I’ve been working on it to make it more popular here and in other countries.
Have you ever faced adversity for being a female guitarist? How did you overcome it?
Yes. Sometimes when I go to play in a new place where people don’t know my work, I feel like they don’t believe that a girl will play something on the guitar; it’s a feeling of distrust. But when I start to play and I look at their faces and see a good reaction, that’s the greatest feeling ever. Sometimes, we don’t need to talk to convince someone that a girl can play. Simply play!
Let’s pretend you have to quickly run out of your house, and you can only choose one instrument… what would it be, electric or acoustic guitar? Why?
What a hard choice! But in this situation, I think I would choose the acoustic guitar, because I like to play it when I’m alone and reflective. An acoustic guitar has something special and powerful to change any environment.
Sometimes in the Latin culture (more than in any other culture) music isn’t taken seriously as a career. Have you faced this situation? If so, what is your response?
Yes. Here in Brazil, most people who love music and want to live it as a professional are afraid to do it, and they choose some other “traditional” profession. If that still happens, it’s because people don’t face it like they should. t’s totally possible to have a good career here, you just have to work seriously. I faced this fear and I left my lawyer career to pursue my dream in music. That’s what I love to do and I was the best decision of my life.
Tell us about your Michael Jackson tribute band. Where did the idea come from?
The Michael Jackson Tribute is a show that we have been working on here in Brazil and Latin America. Rodrigo Teaser is the Michael Jackson impersonator and creator of the show, and I was invited to be part of it. This is the biggest tribute show in Latin America. Recently, LaVelle Smith Jr. (Michael Jackson’s choreographer) came as a special guest for a special show. It was so cool! It’s awesome to be part of this amazing work!
Congratulations for your award in the instrumental category of the Samsung E-Festival. Tell us a little bit about that.
Thank you! The Samsung E-Festival was a contest that happened here in Brazil, and I was chosen for the finals among a lot of great musicians, and at the end I won by popular choice. I got supper happy!
What advice would you give your 10-year-old self?
“Keep trying to play with your heart."
Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
I see myself traveling a lot to spread more music across the world!
Visit laribasilio.com for more information.
This article was originally published by the Women's International Music Network, an organization that advocates for women in music and produces the She Rocks Awards. Find out more at on www.thewimn.com.