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The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

WRCU’s ‘Nova’: The Bossa Nova Beats of Colgate University

Printed with permission of Ayden Simpson

On Colgate University’s WRCU FM 90.1’s show under the name “Nova,” juniors Renata Burnett and Ayden Simpson share bossa nova, a genre of music that translates to “new trend” in Portuguese and emerged in Brazil during the late 1950s. The sound aims to combine jazz’s refined harmonies with the samba’s rhythmic vigor. Musicians like João Gilberto, Vinícius de Moraes and Antônio Carlos Jobim were the first to popularize a lyrical, softer style of music with subtle vocals and delicate guitar strums. The slow, reflective attitude of bossa nova is reflected in the songs’ subjects, which frequently center on love, yearning and the splendor of nature.

Anyone can enjoy this soothing genre alongside Burnett and Simpson during their next study session by tuning into WRCU’s “Nova” show, which the two started in their first year at Colgate after realizing they both appreciated the genre. Simpson shared what draws him to bossa nova, despite not knowing Portuguese.

“Bossa nova is one of my favorite genres for many reasons, such as the groovy syncopation and the rootless chord voicings that many guitarists play, but I think what makes it really special is something I can’t describe about how it makes me feel,” Simpson said. “A lot of songs have this emotional quality that’s somewhere between nostalgia and bliss, and — partially because I don’t speak Portuguese — I can really sink into this when I’m listening.”

Simpson explained that he had never been part of a radio show before “Nova,” but he and Burnett were inspired by their love for the genre once they came to Colgate.

“[Burnett’s] Brazilian, and I have always been a huge jazz fan, so it was the perfect genre for us to do a radio show about since we were already both into bossa [nova],” Simpson said.

Simpson explained that running a college radio program is an exciting mix of spontaneity and inventiveness. From solving technical problems to adjusting to last-minute scheduling adjustments, the environment is constantly changing and unpredictable, so hosts must be able to think on their feet and adapt quickly. Hosts strive to create an experience that everyone on campus can enjoy. They are able to bring the community together through their shared love for music.

“As for my experience so far, it’s been really just all around wonderful,” Simpson said. “In terms of time spent versus value I get out of it, going on the show each week is always such a fun and relaxing time. In the past semester, I’ve been having a different guest or friend on each week, and seeing how much people love it, even if it’s their first time doing a radio show, makes me appreciate it even more” 

Simpson explained that he enjoys incorporating other genres into his show. 

“I want to listen to and share songs with people, especially if I’ve newly discovered them,” Simpson said. “Bossa nova is always changing and shifting, in part because of how heavily it’s sampled in other R&B songs. I love to play these songs that sample bossa nova songs one after the other on some shows. I think it’s part of what makes it such a good genre to work with, since the list of songs is never-ending.”

While Simpson studied abroad in the Fall and Burnett is currently studying abroad this semester, the two made some great memories running the show together prior to their junior year. Simpson discussed his favorite part of running “Nova” with Burnett.

“Last year, when I was doing the show with [Burnett], it was just such a valuable thing to deliberately take an hour out of my day to spend listening to music we love, talking and relaxing,” Simpson said.

If you’re ever in need of a musical escape, WRCU’s “Nova” show is just a click away, ready to transport you into the world of Brazilian jazz. Simpson and Burnett demonstrate that music can bring people together in peace and harmony, and maybe even help through the stressful moments that college brings. 

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