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Badi Assad 

Recombinant tradition

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Badi Assad doesn't know what style of music she plays. She just knows its her own: "Because I combine so many styles in what I do, that becomes my own style," says Assad, 41, a São Paulo-born guitarist and singer. "I combine Brazilian roots with the music that I hear around the world."

Alternately dancing and dipping or emoting and yearning, Assad's blend of classical guitar and Brazilian folk music frequently shifts shapes, mixing disparate sounds as it does so. Assad wanted to be a dancer as a child, but now she says she's never worked at much else in life other than her music. "That's part of who I am."

Music was part of Assad's family, too. Though not professional musicians, her father played mandolin, and her mother was a singer. Assad's older brothers, Sérgio and Odair, are renowned classical guitarists. Three years ago, the entire family toured together. And now, Assad is working to pass the family tradition down to her daughter and touring travelmate, Sofia. Sofia is only 4 months old, but she has already traveled to Australia with her mother and father for a tour. She'll spend the next three months on the road with them, traveling first to Durham, then to Hawaii and Greece.

"She gets a little confused with the time change, so her little routine gets crude," Assad says of her toddler. "But in the airplanes and everything she is behaving so wonderfully."

And though the musician's lifestyle may seem overwhelming—what with the traveling and performing and being a mother—Assad says she still has the energy to enjoy her life and lineage's work: "The music makes it worth it."

Badi Assad performs solo at Reynolds Industries Theater at Duke University Friday, Nov. 30, at 8 p.m.

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