- Associated Press - Sunday, September 5, 2010

NEW YORK (AP) - The most Earth-shattering event in Brazil this weekend took place in New York, where singer Ivete Sangalo played a sold out show at Madison Square Garden. Too bad, few Americans even noticed.

A superstar in her native Brazil, where she can pack a 70,000-capacity soccer stadium and commands crowds of millions during Carnaval, Sangalo kept the almost-entirely-Brazilian audience on its feet over the course of three hours and five costume changes.

Dancing frenetically, the crowd of 14,500 sang along with every word of her samba-inflected dance pop songs like “Festa” (Party) and “Acelere” (Accelerate).

“I just want you to be proud of me, and I want you to be proud of the show I brought here,” Sangalo said from the top of a massive, thrusting stage pulsing with lights and video _ designed by the man responsible for this year’s Super Bowl halftime show, Bruce Rodgers.

In Brazil, Sangalo’s show was touted as her first step toward conquering the U.S., placing her in a pantheon with the likes of Madonna, the Rolling Stones, Beyonce and U2.

But a 100-foot-high banner that hung outside the Garden for weeks advertising the show still required the helpful caption explaining Sangalo is “A Brazilian Star.”

At a pre-concert news conference, the statuesque brunette said the relative anonymity didn’t faze her.

“When I started in Brazil, I was also unknown, and Brazil is a gigantic place with lots of talent,” the husky-voiced singer explained. “I haven’t come here with the pretension of being well known, but what I’ve come do to here, I’ve come to do right.”

As a Portuguese speaker, Sangalo may have had her work cut out for her, but promoters say selling out the Garden is a real accomplishment.

Shows by non-English-speaking acts there tend to top out at around 3,000 to 4,000 people, unless they sing in Spanish, which is spoken by a large and growing percentage of the U.S. population.

The only other Brazilian to headline a show at the Garden, singer Roberto Carlos, did so by reaching out to Latin audiences and singing in Spanish.

The closest comparison might be the Korean pop singer Rain, who sold out two nights at the smaller Madison Square Garden theater, which seats 4,000, in 2006.

Concert promoter John Scher said people have been calling him to ask who Sangalo is.

“I don’t think there’s been anything quite like this. There are Latin (Spanish speaking) artists who can sell out the Garden, but this is a pretty unique situation really,” Scher said. “There’s a lot of interest in the music industry, if not with the public.”

Sangalo, 38, got her start singing as a teenager from the top of the sound trucks that ply their way through the packed streets of Salvador da Bahia during Carnaval time.

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