Cast of the Show “That’s Why I Sing”

​Music as a social transformation tool for an entire community

Social project created by Fiat and managed today by the community itself, Árvore da Vida (Tree of Life) celebrates 15 years with show that moved the stage and the audience

November 4, 2019 - The stage and the audience of the traditional Cine Theatro Brasil, in Belo Horizonte (MG, Brazil), were moved during the presentation of the show “That’s Why I Sing”, in celebration of the 15 years of the Tree of Life Institute (IAV), on October 23. The powerful musical was also a celebration of the life and the potential of those adolescents who are part of the Tree of Life, a project that was born in 2004, in Jardim Teresópolis, near the Fiat Automotive Plant, in Betim (MG).

In a partnership with the theater group Ponto de Partida, the show is about each of the teenagers, about being together and the power of collective existence. The artistic director of Ponto de Partida, and of the show, Regina Bertola explains that the repertoire for the musical - which features songs such as “The Letter” by Djavan and Gabriel O Pensador, “Baila Comigo” by Rita Lee and “Só Eu Sou Eu” ”By Marcelo Jeneci - points to the fact that each of the students of the IAV is unique, irreplaceable and has his/her own path; But this path must be followed with happiness, and happiness is not individual. “When one discovers this, one also discovers a path to the desires, to the expression of one's own voice, to what is desired individually and for all,” says Regina. According to the director, what the Tree of Life does is just that: help discover the voice with purpose, with work, with joy, with beauty and with the power of art. “They have a voice and the purpose is to occupy the scene and gain a leading role. People were born to be happy. That was the reason” she calls.

Behind the Scenes “That’s Why I Sing”“That’s Why I Sing” was marked by anxiety before the premiere and a lot of emotion during the performance.

Rehearsals for the show lasted about five months, involving 41 teenagers. “We prepared a lot and wanted to transmit our energy to the public,” says Medleing Lissa Souza, 14, a student of the choir workshop since 2016. According to her, the presentation exceeded expectations. “It was amazing, it turned out a lot better than what we were expecting and I wanted to do it again, because even while enjoying every second of the presentation, my feeling was that it went by too fast,” she says, thrilled. Pedro Ferreira, 19, a member of Árvore since 2010 and currently a percussion monitor, also participated in the musical. "It was wonderful. It was a day full of expectations, we were all anxious before going on stage, but the applauses gave us the feeling of accomplishment after all the preparation”, he said.

There is no doubt that the energy and excitement that came from the stage reached the audience. For Brenda Silveira, journalist, cultural producer and member of the audience, “That’s Why I Sing” is one of the most Brazilian shows she has ever seen in 30 years of cultural production. “When the cast sang ‘O Homem Falou ’, Gonzaguinha went right into the vein. The theater exploded with joy”, she explained. Brenda says she left the show with a seed of hope in her heart, certain that a happy Brazil is indeed possible.

“If I could describe in one word to sum up tonight’s feeling it would be pride: pride in this project, the way the Tree of Life and the community of Jardim Teresópolis grew together. It’s precisely this partnership and complicity that we celebrate”, said Fernão Silveira, FCA's Director of Corporate Communication and Sustainability for Latin America. According to Luciana Costa, FCA Sustainability Coordinator for Latin America, “the show was a day of joy and celebration, with our families and the community of Jardim Teresópolis. We were transformed”.

See some key moments of the show in the video below:

Tree of Life and Dreams

Created in 2004 as a Fiat social project and independent since 2017, after following a path of maturity and leadership, the Instituto Árvore da Vida is today a non-profit association composed and managed by members of the community itself. Since its inception, it aims at providing opportunities for socioeconomic development for the region through cultural activities (the space offers workshops for guitar, percussion, choir and personal development), insertion in the labor market and income generation. That’s why it’s called the Tree of Life

When the Tree began, Lucas Souza was nine years old. Today, he is 24 and since 2013 he has been a teacher in the program. He was also part of the cast of the show marking its 15 years. His work as educator started as a percussion monitor and he is currently responsible for guitar lessons (he has over 40 students in six classes). “I have a feeling of gratitude for believing in me” he acknowledges. Medleing also dreams of being an IAV teacher. For her, since it started, the project improves constantly. “I don't just want to learn; I want to make it happen, help my colleagues” she says. The Tree of Life is also a Tree of Dreams.

Youth of the Tree of Life perform with Andrea BocelliIn 2011, the Tree of Life youths performed with Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli to an audience of over 80,000 people

For Maiara Wenceslau, IAV Project Manager, "Music has the transformative power of working the most sensitive capacities of the individual and enhance the uniqueness of each." With all the work done, the Tree of Life ends up being a reference center for the community”, she says. And the autonomy achieved by becoming a non-profit organization allows the community itself to direct program actions.

This year (2019), there are 680 participants and the leap in school approval ratings for students participating in the Tree of Life is one example of the program's success. The rate, which used to be 71% in 2004, reached 96% in 2018. The same achievement was noted in terms of engagement and enrolment rates. In addition, adolescents participating in or have participated in the program are 3.6 times more likely to continue studying and 4.8 times more likely to graduate from college.

According to Luciana Costa, the most important in these 15 years has been the opening of a dialogue with the community. “It is our policy to be closer to the communities in which we operate and create a dialogue. This is what’s expected of a company that expects results and excellence. In addition, the FCA group believes that investing in education is a priority. During this period, we can speak not only of the impact in the area of ​​education but also of the strengthening of the community, employability and income generation. There are many learning experiences involved in the partnership” she explains.

Words: Vanessa Costa

Pictures: Marketing

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