Gene de Souza
Gene de Souza
The story of Café Brasil begins like all good stories — that is, organically. Back in 2001 De Souza was selling insurance in South Florida, and that meant spending a lot of time on the road. To help get him through the interminable days, he tuned in to WDNA, where the jazz can cure just about ailment known to man, including traffic jams. One day the station had an open call for a radio personality specializing in Latin jazz. De Souza answered. It didn’t matter that he hadn’t been behind a radio console since college, or that he really wasn’t that up on Latin jazz. He needed something more for his life, and this looked like it.
After a few months of Brazilian-dominated Latin jazz shows, the station decided to give De Souza his own slot. The rest, as they say, is radio history. De Souza used his spot to connect with South Florida’s Brazilian contingent, as well as with the ever-increasing world music community, helping to herald new releases and to hype various concerts. And after Laura Quinlan of the renowned Rhythm Foundation asked De Souza to introduce the legendary Caetona Velosa back in ’02, he joined that organization too. He now serves as the Rhythm Foundation’s development director.
These days De Souza’s the go-to cat when it comes to anything involving Brazilian music. When artists like Milton Nasciemento and Gilberto Gil come to town, they stop off and sit for an interview on Café Brasil. As did diva Adriana Calcanhotto, whose recent sold-out concert here will be the basis of an upcoming two-hour special on August 16. And when WPBT decided to air their Spirit of Brazil special during the upcoming pledge drive, they asked De Souza to host.
But none of this would be possible without De Souza’s dedication. Watching him work in the studio is a study in how all good things come to life. Delicately, he cues up a disc, checks the credits, pushes a series of buttons, and then smoothly addresses the audience. “This, you’re going to love,” he says. And by the time De Souza has finished with a bit of the song’s back story, you’ve already agreed.
There is still such a thing as devotion in this world, even among radio DJs. And with Gene De Souza and his Café Brasil, that devotion is a true as the Brazilian sun it comes from, and as steady as the beat the makes it part of our hearts, no matter where you were born. Tune in.