From their Rio De Janeiro music studio, Augusto Ordine and Maíra Martins know they can expect two things from Michigan crowds when they kick off their first North American tour in January.
“Cold weather and warm audiences,” Ordine says with a laugh.
The pair, the principal singers in Ordinarius, a seven-member vocal and percussion group, will battle the former and encourage the latter with a unique, yet traditional Brazilian sound that blends South American a cappella harmonies with rich percussion and an electric stage presence.
Ordinarius launches its tour in Michigan as the second stop on the expedition comes to the Midland Center for the Arts on January 9. The performance is two days after a stop in Ann Arbor and before the group heads off for eight other shows in Minnesota, Iowa and California.
Martins said the group has gained some U.S. exposure through YouTube videos and social media, including a cover of the Backstreet Boys “As Long As You Love Me,” which was noticed by the boy band and promoted on their channels.
“People started to look for us,” Ordine said.
And while that discovery propelled their fanbase to a worldwide stage, the artists say it hasn’t changed their approach.
“We are still very much a vocal group that focuses on Brazilian music and honoring where we came from,” Martins said. “We want people to feel the music and identify and connect with it.”
Ordinarius has been successful on that front in Brazil and beyond, earning critical acclaim and a second-place finish in a National Vocal Group Competition in 2012. A CD release was named one of the 100 best of the year for the Brazilian Music Awards. The following year, the singers performed across Europe and South America. In 2014, they returned to the National Vocal Group competition and won the contest.
Commercial success has not necessarily followed as it’s hard to get a foothold on the radio or other media as some American groups like Pentatonix and Straight No Chaser have domestically. The performances, however, are equally as stirring and experiential.
“We have the authenticity and the ability to bond with people by presenting a palette of different and unique sounds,” Ordine said. “It’s quite rewarding to make music you want to make and not worry if it’s going to sell or not.”
On its U.S. tour, Ordinarius will perform the music of Carmen Miranda, a Brazilian who burst to American stardom with her singing and dancing in the 1930s. Their repertoire will also mix in some cover tunes, including Stevie Wonder, but Martins said that’s not the backbone of their catalog.
“When we do that, we never sing a song the way it’s been recorded,” She says. “It’s very different, with our own touch on it.”
The pair believe the use of percussion and the blending of six incredible voices will allow them to bond with audiences. In some sense, they’ll feel out the crowd as they perform and lean on music that resonates with those who are familiar are new to the group.
“We want everyone to leave feeling good, like they’ve seen something they never had before,” Ordine said.
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