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Bermuda inspires Portuguese rock song

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Fellow musicians Azorean Eduardo Medeiros, left, and Bermudian Ronnie Lopes in Bermuda (Photograph supplied)

By day, Azorean Eduardo Medeiros is a researcher studying the history of the Portuguese in Bermuda.

By night, he is a guitarist in Moby Islands, a rock band on the Portuguese island of São Miguel.

This week his passions converged when Moby Islands released Promised Land, a song sparked by time he spent researching in Bermuda last year.

Initially, he and band member Rui Faria wrote Promised Land with a more general setting.

“We were about to go to the studio to record and I said I want this song to be specifically about Bermuda,” Mr Medeiros said.

He and Mr Faria went back to the drawing board and rewrote the lyrics.

“The song is about Azorean immigration to Bermuda,” Mr Medeiros explained. “It is about a couple being split apart because one is staying in the Azores and the other is going to Bermuda to work.”

Azorean guitarist Eduardo Medeiros playing the guitar with rock group Moby Islands (Photograph suppled)

The song includes the lines:

In Saint George’s Parish, I’m with our people, but your love I cherish. Just want to feel your touch again; I'll be gone for years; won’t forget your smile.

“The song also brings in the connection with agriculture,” Mr Medeiros said. “There is a line in the song that says please take care of our farm, it means a lot for us.”

After they got the words straight, Mr Medeiros knew the perfect person to sing the song, Bermudian Ronnie Lopes.

Mr Lopes is the owner of dog grooming business Pet Care, in Devonshire, and is a singer in his spare time. He has sung at weddings and events all over Bermuda. For Christmas 2020, he and another local musician Bruce Fox, recorded Silent Night, and released it in four different languages.

Mr Medeiros met him while in Bermuda a year ago.

“I heard him sing at Henry VIII Restaurant, and I really loved his voice,” Mr Medeiros said. “We became friends. Both of us are musicians and we both love animals.”

They kept in touch.

“One day I was thinking about the song, and I realised it needed to be sung by someone with a connection to Bermuda,” Mr Medeiros said. “It could not be anyone but Ronnie.”

Mr Lopes recorded the vocals at John Woolridge’s Just Platinum Recording Studios on Church Street in Hamilton.

“I think it came out amazing,” Mr Medeiros said.

He explained the logic behind the song.

“Bermuda was always the promised land for Azoreans,” he said. “That is why they wanted to go there and work. They often had relatives and friends there.”

The song is not biographical, but it was inspired by the people Mr Medeiros interviewed and studied in his research for the book.

However, he admitted that calling Bermuda the “promised land” might be controversial, due to the discrimination that some Portuguese immigrants experienced on the island.

Azorean rock group Moby Islands has just released Promised Land, a song about Bermuda (Photograph supplied)

“This also happened in places such as Canada and the United States,” he said. “Portuguese immigration to Bermuda has been going on for a long time. At different points in history the Portuguese had different motivations for immigrating, and experienced different conditions and different problems. People came here because they were searching for somewhere for their kids to have a better life. Often they worked very long hours for low pay.”

However, Mr Medeiros said working overseas in places such as Bermuda often did help them fulfil their dreams for themselves and their children.

He believes that Azoreans felt a special connection with Bermuda because it was a small island archipelago, similar to their own.

“Bermuda is not a huge country, like the United States,” he said. “That is probably something that made them feel more attached to the place.”

Mr Medeiros has been playing the guitar since he was 14 and loves history and music in equal measure.

“I chose to be a history researcher because it would have been very difficult to make a living as a musician in the Azores,” he said. “I do know some people who make a living as professional musicians here. They are generally busy in the summer but not so much in the winter.”

Moby Islands already has several concerts booked on São Miguel, this summer.

Their song Promised Land is available now on YouTube, Spotify and other music streaming platforms.

Meanwhile, Mr Medeiros is putting the finishing touches to his book, which should be released in November to coincide with the 175th anniversary of the arrival of the Golden Rule from Madeira in November 1849. The brig, captained by Bermudian John Watlington, brought 58 Portuguese to Bermuda, the first official group to arrive here from the Azores.

“I am still unsure of the title,” Mr Medeiros said. “At the moment, the book is called 175 Years of the Portuguese in Bermuda.”

He is hoping to make it available at Brown & Co on Reid Street in Hamilton, when it is released.

The book project is backed by the Azorean Emigrants Association, a charity linked to the Museum of Azorean Emigration in São Miguel.

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Published June 19, 2024 at 8:00 am (Updated June 20, 2024 at 8:26 am)

Bermuda inspires Portuguese rock song

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