In Brazil popular music can be an unexpected mix of jazz, folk, pop and rock, genres which are usually kept separate in American popular music. The big names, some of whom have been around since the 60s or before, are joined each year by new stars and each has their following. Some musical styles are very local, others spread throughout the culture. The result of all this, for listeners, is exhilarating. Brazilian pop is smart, sophisticated, rhythmic and sometimes raucous. I couldn’t possibly list even a fraction of the interesting performers, so I’ve collected some information on some of my favourites.
Born 1965 in Porto Alegre, Adriana’s melancholic songs are most often categorized as being from the MPB (popular music) genre. She started her professional career in 1984 and released her first studio album in 1990. Of her nine albums, 5 have been gold and two, Perfil and Cantada, have been platinum.
Born 1947 in Sao Luis, Maranhao, Alcione (Birth Name: Alcione Nazaré) has won 19 gold records and two platinum records. Alcione recorded her first single in Brazil in 1972. In 1975, she recorded her first LP, A Voz do Samba. It became her first gold record.
Born Juiz de Fora, September 9, 1974, Ana Carolina Sousa released her first CD in 1999. In 2003 she released her third, Estampado and in 2004 she performed a show with Seu Jorge. The song, “É Isso Aí” reached the #1 spot on the charts. She released her 6th album, Dois Quartos 2008.
Antonio Carlos Jobim
Born January 25, 1927 in Rio de Janeiro, died December 8, 1994 in New York City, also known as Tom, Jobim was a Grammy Award-winning Brazilian songwriter, composer, arranger, singer, and pianist/guitarist. A primary force behind the creation of the bossa nova style, Jobim is acknowledged as one of the most influential popular composers of the 20th century.
Poet, singer and composer Beatriz Azevedo is a multi talented artist who uses samba, bossa nova, afoxé, xaxado and maxixe and other traditional rhythms to create a contemporary, seductive and truly personal style. “Bum Bum do Poeta” was her debut CD. “Mapa-Mundi (samba and poetry)” is her latest release.
Born Isabel Gilberto on May 12, 1966 in New York City, Bebel is a Brazilian popular singer often associated with bossa nova. She is the daughter of João Gilberto and singer Miúcha. Her uncle is singer/composer Chico Buarque. Bebel has been performing since her youth in Rio de Janeiro.
Elizabeth Santos Leal de Carvalho (born May 5, 1946 in Rio de Janeiro) is a samba singer, guitarist, cavaquinist and composer. Beth has celebrated the work of legendary composers such as Cartola, Nelson Cavaquinho & Guilherme de Brito, at a time when they were neglected.
Bia is a Brazilian-born singer currently living in France. Bia sings in several languages, creating tasty mixes between Bossa Nova, Samba and Pop, all sung in a South-American way.
Born Aug 07, 1942 in Santo Amaro da Purificação. A true heavyweight, Caetano Veloso is a pop musician/poet/filmmaker/political activist whose stature among international pop musicians is on a par with that of Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, and Lennon/McCartney. He has made 50 albums, created a new style in Brazilian pop music (tropicalia), influenced a generation of singers and composers and remains totally original.
Born December 10, 1962 , died December 29, 2001. Cássia Rejane Eller was born in Rio de Janeiro but spent most of her adolescence in Brasília. Eller is known for her fusion of rock and MPB, and for her extremely deep and husky singing voice. Eller died in December 29, 2001. Her death was found to be due to a heart condition.
Ceumar’s (born Ceumar Coelho) debut album Dindinha, released in 1995, is an acoustic Brazilian pop classic. The daughter of a multi-instrumentalist and singer, Ceumar was born in the interior of Brazil, south of Minas Gerais. Ceumar’s most ambitious project was 30 Musicas Que Voce No Radio (30 Songs That You Won’t Hear on Radio).
Céu’s full name is Maria do Céu Whitaker Poças. She is a singer-songwriter whose first album was released in April 2007. Born around 1980 into a musical São Paulo, Brazil, family, her father was a composer, arranger and musicologist. Her songs reveal her many influences, which include samba, valsa, choro, soul, rhythm and blues, hip hop, afrobeat and electrojazz music.
Francisco Buarque de Hollanda (born June 19, 1944 in Rio de Janeiro), popularly known as Chico Buarque, is a singer, composer, dramatist and writer, one of the country’s greatest singer-songwriters and interpreters of the samba.
Cibelle Cavalli Bastos was born in Sao Paulo. She met the then-unknown Yugoslavian DJ Suba and worked on an album with him, São Paulo Confessions. Cibelle appeared on guitarist and singer/songwriter Celso Fonseca’s 2003 album, Natural, and released her self-titled debut album. She followed up in 2004 with her EP About a Girl, and in 2006, Shine of Dried Electric Leaves, which featured duets with Seu Jorge and Devendra Banhart.
Clara Nunes Clara Francisca Nunes Pinheiro (1943-1983) became known as a samba singer. Her rhythms were inspired by her religion, Candomblé. She was recognised as one of the top three “Samba Queens” with a huge following. In 1983 she died during surgery. Com vida is a tribute album on which the most prominent singers from Brazil duet with her recorded voice, singing some of her best loved songs.
Eliana Printes is a singer/songwriter. Her first CD, Eliana Printes (1994), was nominated by the Sharp Awards as the best new MPB CD of the year. Later in that year, her third CD, O Próximo Beijo, had two hit songs, “Sobre o Tempo” and “Você e Eu”.
Eliane Elias (born March 19, 1960 in São Paulo, Brazil) is a consummate Brazillian jazz pianist, arranger, vocalist and songwriter. Elias has lived and worked in New York City since 1981. Her music is readily recognizable by her mature command of jazz harmonies, her rich blending of rhythmic styles, and (occasionally) her soft, warm voice.
Elis Regina Carvalho Costa, known simply as Elis Regina (March 17, 1945 – January 19, 1982) was a singer of popular music who achieved great success and recognition during her lifetime. She remains one of the most popular and beloved stars in Brazil today.
Born Maria da Graça Costa Penna Burgos September 26, 1945 in Salvador, Gal became one of Brazil’s foremost female Tropicalismo movement singers and guitar players during the late 1960s and 70s. Along with her friend Maria Bethânia, she became a political activist. She has made over 30 albums.
Born May 27, 1972 in Juazeiro, Bahia, Ivete is a Latin Grammy Award-winning Brazilian axé and MPB singer, songwriter, and occasional actress. She is arguably the most popular and best-selling Brazilian female singer of the present, with six albums released with Banda Eva, and seven more albums in a solo career. Ivete is most often recognized by her powerful voice, charisma and live performances. Her music is also popular in Portugal.
João Bosco de Freitas Mucci, better known as João Bosco, is a famous MPB singer, guitarist, and composer. Born on July 13, 1946, in Ponte Nova, Minas Gerais, Joäo Bosco’s profession was engineering when he moved to Rio de Janeiro. He soon became admired as a virtuoso vocalist and a dynamic performer. Joäo Bosco has been noted for “his singular fusion between the Arab culture, Afro-American music and the Brazilian style bossa nova,” influenced by American jazz.
Joyce Silveira Palhano de Jesus, commonly known as Joyce, is a singer/songwriter, as well as an accomplished guitarist and arranger. She was born in Rio de Janeiro on January 31, 1948. Joyce premiered in the late 60s, and since then has recorded over 20 solo albums. Much of Joyce’s work has been compared to the early boom of the jazz fusion scene in the U.S.
Leila Pinheiro moved to Rio de Janeiro in 1979 and recorded her first album, Leila Pinheiro, with guests Tom Jobim, João Donato, Ivan Lins, Francis Hime, and Toninho Horta. In 1989 she recorded and released a bossa nova album which sold a total of 200,000 copies, the biggest sales of a bossa nova album in Brazil until then. In 1993, her album Coisas do Brasil won a gold record as did next year’s Isso é Bossa Nova.
Lisa Ono (小野リサ, Ono Risa) is a popular Japanese bossa nova singer. She was born in São Paulo, Brazil in 1962 but moved with her family to Tokyo at the age of 10. From that time on she spent half of every year in Japan, and half in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She became a type of MPB (Brazil Popular Music) ambassador in Japan. Besides singing, Lisa Ono plays the guitar and is a songwriter. Her first album, Catupiry, was released in 1989.
Maria Bethânia (full name: Maria Bethânia Vianna Telles Veloso) is a Brazilian singer, sister of Caetano Veloso, born 18 June 1946 in Santo Amaro da Purificação, Bahia, Brazil. She started her career in 1964 in Rio de Janeiro with the show Opinião (Opinion). With her strong, low-key voice and dramatic interpretation, she is the second best selling Brazilian female singer of all time, with more than 26 million albums sold.
Maria Rita (born September 19 1977 in São Paulo, Brazil) is the performance name of Maria Rita Mariano, the daughter of famed pianist/arranger César Camargo Mariano and the late Brazilian singing legend Elis Regina and sister to Pedro Mariano. Maria Rita began singing professionally at the age of 24. Her first CD, Maria Rita, went platinum and was a hit worldwide, making her an international star. Rita is pronounced “Hee-Ta”.
Mônica Salmaso recorded the CDs Canções de Ninar and Canções de Brincar (Paulo Tatit/Sandra Peres), both winners of the Sharp award in 1995 and 1997 as Best Children’s CDs. In 1999, she won the Prêmio Visa MPB – Vocal Edition. With her third CD, Voadeira, she won the APCA award as Best Singer of the Year; the album was judged the best feminine solo album of the year.
Mylene’s first album was released in 2003. Called Mylene, it is downtempo Brazilian popular music (MPB) with a nicely contemporary electronic edge.
Full name Dinahir Tostes Caymmi. The daughter of singers Dorival Caymmi and Stella Maris (Adelaide Tostes Caymmi), Nana Caymmi is an established singer on her own, with an extensive discography and two gold records. Nana debuted on record in Dorival Caymmi’s album Acalanto (1961). She moved to Rio in June 1966 and became involved with the Tropicalia movement. She met Gilberto Gil and eventually they became informally married, with general scandal, as she was white and he, black.
Rabo de Lagartixa
A choro group formed in Rio de Janeiro in the 1990s by Daniela Spielmann (soprano and alto saxes), Alessandro Valente (cavaquinho), Marcello Gonçalves (seven-string guitar), and Alexandre Brasil (acoustic/electric basses), Rabo de Lagartixa launched its first album in 1998 with the participation of Elza Soares and Pedro Luís e a Parede.
Rosani Reis is a Brazilian singer who lives and works in Germany. She has released two CDs with a bossa nova/jazz fusion style, in 1991 Cafuso and in 2001 Mosaico. She also performs with the a capella group Chocolat.
Born in Rio about 1983, Sabrina presents a mix of bossa and samba with touches of hip-hop, r’nb and electronica. She is the daughter of Alex Malheiros, bassist from legendary Brazilian band Azymuth. ‘Equilibria’ is her debut recording. Sabrina’s follow up album is ‘New Morning’, an album of bossa – soul that mixes bossa, samba, disco and house together to create a sophisticated and sublime album.
Featuring Katia Moraes, Sambaguru is an ensemble of six musicians from Brazil, Sri Lanka, and the United States, who have been playing a wide-ranging blend of Brazilian music since 1997. It is a vibrant band that produces an upbeat world music experience of remarkable depth and quality.
Silvana Malta was born in 1960 in the town of Marília, in the Brazilian state of Sâo Paulo. In style, Silvana Malta is lyrical and relaxed, singing mainly in the softer end of the classic bossa nova and samba genres. She describes herself as a Brazilian jazz singer, and her trademark is a sensual and melancholic expression, recognisable from the very first notes.
Simone Bittencourt de Oliveira has recorded more than 31 albums, increasingly abandoning her repertory of compositions by João Bosco/ldir Blanc, Geraldo Vandré, Chico Buarque, and Milton Nascimento in favor of mainstream romantic songs, with which she has enjoyed international success. She recorded her first LP, Simone, in 1973. She has performed before audiences of 15,000 or more at the Morumbi stadium. Her voice is distinctively low in tone. She also sings in Spanish and English.
Sylvia Patricia Cesar Pires Valença was born in Salvador Bahia, 21 March. Her parents are Gutembergue de Araújo Valença y Maria Aldinar César Pires Valença. She has released six CDs, most recently No Rádio da Minha Cabeça in 2006. One of most important composers and singers from Bahia-Brazil, Sylvia mixes Bossa Nova and Brazilian Rhythms with Blues, Jazz, Rock and Roll.
Tania Maria (b. May 9, 1948 in Sao Luis) is a singer, composer, bandleader and piano player, singing mostly in Portuguese or English. Her music is mostly vocal, sometimes pop, often jazzy, and unmistakably Brazilian. Whether playing fiery samba, tranquil bossa, Afro-Latin, Pop and Jazz Fusion, or any other style, she maintains a style that is uniquely her own. Her vibrant voice, brilliant piano work and outstanding performances have made her an artist of international popularity.
Vania Abreu was born on May 30, 1967 as Vania Mercury de Almeida. She is the younger sister of Daniela Mercury. Abreu began her professional performances in 1986 as a back up singer for the band, Gerônimo, in Salvador. The next year she released her self-titled album, “Vania Abreu”. Her most critically-acclaimed album to date is “Seio da Bahia,” where Vania sings classic songs from Bahia.
Wanda started her professional career at 19 with Wanda Vagamente (1964), featuring the earliest compositions by Edú Lobo, Francis Hime, and Marcos Valle. By the end of the same year she joined Sérgio Mendes’ Brasil ’65 (with Rosinha de Valença and Jorge Ben Jor). Married to Edú Lobo from 1969 to 1982, a period in which she left the scene, Sá returned in the late ’80s, performing shows with Roberto Menescal and Mièle, recording Brasileiras in 1994 with Célia Vaz.
Zélia Cristina Duncan, simply known as Zélia Duncan (Niterói, October 28 1964) is a Brazilian pop singer. In 2006, she replaced Rita Lee as the vocalist in the reunion of the band Os Mutantes.
Zizi recorded her first album (Flor do Mal) in Rio in 1978. Her first hit was the title track of her second album, Pedaço de Mim (Chico Buarque). The LP Estrebucha Baby (1989) represented a different, almost experimental phase. She recorded the album Sobre Todas As Coisas in 1991. Valsa Brasileira (1993) had two hits, “Bom Dia” (Swami Jr./ Paulo Freire) and “Lamento” (Pixinguinha).
©2009 Original material copyright Phillip Kay. Images and other material courtesy Creative Commons. Please inform post author of any violation.