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B.Léza  

Juliana Braz Dias

Cape Verdean musician and composer, was born on São Vicente Island (Cape Verde) on 3 December 1905 He was the son of João Vicente da Cruz and Rosa Antónia Lopes da Cruz a domestic servant Born on Saint Francis Xavier s day he was named Francisco Xavier da Cruz after the saint and many of his works as a composer are registered under this name However B Léza is the name he used throughout his life and the name that keeps him alive in the collective memory of the Cape Verdean nation B Léza grew up on the streets of Lombo a poor district whose population was largely composed of sailors fishermen domestic servants and workers of the coal companies established by the British in the City of Mindelo São Vicente Island during the times of steam navigation B Léza was the product of a port city an environment ...

Article

Christopher Dunn

Calinhos Brown (Antonio Carlos Santos de Freitas) grew up in the Candeal neighborhood of Salvador in the northeastern Brazilian state of Bahia. He received early training from a local percussionist known as Pintado de Bongô. Inspired by African American Soul Music of the 1970s, he adopted a stage name after one of his heroes, James Brown. In the 1980s he played percussion for Bahian pop celebrities such as Luiz Caldas, Moraes Moreira, and Caetano Veloso, whose recording of Brown's tune “Meia-lua inteira” achieved mass popularity. In the 1990s he collaborated with Bill Laswell, Herbie Hancock, and Wayne Shorter on Bahia Black: Ritual Beating System; Sérgio Mendes on his Grammy Award–winning Brasileiro; Brazilian vocalist Marisa Monte onRose and Charcoal and A Great Noise; and Brazilian heavy metal band Sepultura on Roots.

In the early 1990s Brown ...

Article

Cartola  

Carlos Sandroni

and one of the founders of Escola de Samba Estação Primeira de Mangueira (literally, First Station of Mangueira Samba School), was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on 11 October 1908 to Sebastião Joaquim de Oliveira, a carpenter, and Aída Gomes de Oliveira, a housewife. Although the registrar mistakenly recorded the name “Angenor” on Cartola’s baptism certificate, the name by which he was formally called through adulthood is “Agenor.” Cartola (literally, “top hat”) is a nickname he received while still a teenager. He worked in construction, and used a small “cartola” to prevent dirtying his head with spatters of cement. He adopted the nickname, using it throughout his career as a sambista (samba performer) and musician. In fact, he was even referred to as Cartola by his friends and relatives.

Cartola only completed his studies up to the fourth grade Until the age of 11 he lived in neighborhoods of ...

Article

Cartola  

Christopher Dunn

Born Angenor de Oliveira in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, “Cartola” (top hat) gained his nickname in the early 1920s because he always wore a fine hat, even while working as a mason. In 1929 he founded the second escola de samba (Samba school), Estação Primeira da Mangueira, together with his partner, Carlos Cachaça. In the Carnival of that year, Mangueira paraded to Cartola's composition “Chega de Demanda,” which he would not record until 1974. Mangueira soon emerged as the preeminent samba school and continues to rank among the top Carnival organizations in Rio de Janeiro.

Throughout the 1930s famous Brazilian radio stars like Carmen Miranda, Francisco Alves, Mário Reis, and Araci de Almeida achieved success interpreting Cartola's songs. In 1940 he participated on two albums titled Native Brazilian Music with Pixinguinha, Donga, and João da Baiana, produced by Leopold Stokowski ...

Article

Thomas George Caracas Garcia

was born in Salvador, Bahia, on 30 April 1914. His paternal great-grandfather (whose name was spelled “Caimmi”) immigrated to Brazil from Italy and was a construction worker. His father, Durval Henrique Caymmi, was a civil servant and amateur musician, and his mother, Aurelina, was an amateur singer of African and Portuguese descent. Dorival never had any formal training as a singer, and in his teens he had a variety of jobs, most notably as a street vendor. His musical career, however, took off while he was still a teenager. He was a self-taught guitarist, singer, and composer, and by the early 1930s, he was performing his own songs on the nascent radio stations in his hometown.

By 1935 Caymmi was singing and playing guitar on Rádio Clube de Bahia (Bahia Radio Club, a major broadcaster in Salvador) and in 1935, he had his own show, Caymmi e Suas ...

Article

Christopher Dunn

Dorival Caymmi was born in Salvador, Brazil, and worked at several jobs before becoming a singer. Despite winning a songwriting contest in 1936 he chose to study law, moving to Rio de Janeiro two years later to pursue that ambition. Friends, however, convinced him to try his hand at a musical career. Caymmi achieved widespread popularity in 1939, when Carmen Miranda performed his song “O que é que a baiana tem?” in the film Banana da Terra.

Caymmi's music—more than that of any other Brazilian singer-songwriter—encouraged the popular recognition and acceptance of the cosmology and beliefs of the Afro-Brazilian religion of Candomblé Several compositions such as É doce morrer no mar Rainha do mar and Promessa de Pescador portray the life of local fishermen and their relationship to Yemanjá the African deity of the sea In other compositions like Você já foi a Bahia Saudade da ...

Article

Donga  

Christopher Dunn

Born Ernesto Joaquim Maria dos Santos, Donga grew up in a social milieu with former slaves from the northeastern state of Bahia who had migrated to Rio de Janeiro after abolition in 1888. His mother, known as Tia Amélia, was a Bahian woman who hosted many Candomblé celebrations in their home in the neighborhood of Cidade Nova. Starting around 1910, a young group of musicians and composers, including Donga, Pixinguinha, João da Baiana, Sinhô, and Heitor dos Prazeres, frequented the famous parties of another baiana known as Tia Ciata. At her house they entertained guests with traditional Afro-Brazilian rhythms such as lundu, maxixe, and marcha, which they mixed with imported styles such as the habanera. In November 1916 Donga registered the song Pelo telefone By Telephone at the National Library becoming the first composer officially to use the ...

Article

Grande Otelo, nicknamed Bastião as a child, expressed his artistic interest at a young age. In addition to attending school, he worked in the circus in his hometown of Uberlândia, and at the age of eight he sang at the lounge of the city's Hotel do Comércio. In the circus he became part of the cast of a comedy piece called “The Clown's Wife.” During one of his circus performances in 1924 he was discovered by classical singer Abigail Gonçalves. Impressed with the young boy's talent, Gonçalves became his tutor and took him to São Paulo to introduce him to professional acting. He acted in his first professional role when he was nine years old. He began to refine his identity as an actor with the Companhia Negra de Revistas, a theater troupe composed of black actors. In 1926 he performed major roles in plays such as Café Torrado ...

Article

Christopher Dunn

As an adolescent, Clementina de Jesus sang in the choir of the local church in the Oswaldo Cruz neighborhood and later participated in the Portela Samba School. In 1940 she married and moved to Mangueira, home to a rival samba school. For the next twenty years she worked as a maid and sang only for family and friends. In 1964 the composer and impresario Hermínio Bello de Carvalho invited her to perform with the classical guitarist Turíbio Santos. Her professional debut coincided with an emerging interest in roots music among left-wing artists and intellectuals. In the following year, Clementina participated in the highly acclaimed musical showcase Rosa de Ouro, which was later released on two albums. In 1966 she represented Brazil in the First Festival of Black Arts in Dakar, Senegal. In 1968 she recorded an album Gente da Antiga with two early innovators of Samba ...

Article

Courtney J. Campbell

was born Jessé Gomes da Silva Filho on 4 February 1959 in the neighborhood of Irajá in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Zeca Pagodinho was the fourth of five children for his father, Jessé, and mother, Irinea. He was born into a musical family, with his maternal great-uncle Thybau José Fernandes and his maternal uncle Roberto José Fernandes (also known as Beto Gago) being particularly important in his early musical development. He grew up between the Irajá and Del Castilho neighborhoods.

Pagodinho left primary school after fourth grade and began to perform publicly at an early age. At 14, Pagodinho played the tambourine with local musicians. He frequented sambas de roda and partido-alto musical events with markedly Afro Brazilian origins throughout Rio de Janeiro in his youth He gained his nickname through participation in the Bohêmios Carnaval Block s Ala do Pagodinho Pagodinho wing formed by Pagodinho s uncle Beto ...

Article

Ben Penglase

Born José Gomes Filho, Jackson do Pandeiro grew up in a poor family in the coastal towns of Brazil's Nordeste (northeast). His mother was a professional singer, and Jackson performed with her from an early age. Legend has it that he had wanted to play the accordion like his hero Luíz Gonzaga, but his family could only afford to buy him a pandeiro (tambourine). Besides music, the young Jackson's other great love was American Western films. His nickname, “Jackson,” came from his resemblance to the American actor Jack Perry.

At the age of eighteen, Jackson became a professional musician and moved to Recife. There he worked for local radio stations, performing northeastern genres such as coco, forró, and embolada. He also recorded his first hit songs, including “Sebastiana” and “Forró em Limoeiro.” During this time Jackson met Almira Castilhos de Albuquerque his ...

Article

Gordon Root

Pixinguinha grew up in a large family in the working class district of Catumbi, in north Rio de Janeiro. His birth name was Alfredo da Rocha Viana Jr., but his grandparents gave him the nickname Pizinguim, of African origin, meaning “good child.” Eventually, it was Brazilianized, becoming Pixinguinha.

The musical genre choro (from the word for “cry”) emerged in the late nineteenth century. Pixinguinha's father, a telegraph worker by trade, was a flautist and choro musician. At night his home was the meeting place for many neighborhood choro musicians. In this setting Pixinguinha became immersed in the choro tradition. He was playing flute professionally at age fifteen in Choro Carioca, a group led by his teacher, Irineu de Almeida. Before he was out of his teens, he was well regarded in the music circles of northern Rio de Janeiro.

In 1919, together with Donga Pixinguinha ...

Article

Courtney J. Campbell

was born Francisco de Assis França, on 13 March 1966 in Olinda, Pernambuco, Brazil. His father, Francisco França, was a public servant, and his mother, Rita, a housewife. Chico Science grew up in the Rio Doce neighborhood of Olinda and studied at a public school. During his childhood and adolescence, Chico Science became interested in music created by black artists in the United States, particularly that of James Brown, Grandmaster Flash, and the Sugarhill Gang. As a youth, Chico was active in Recife’s hip-hop movement, dedicated to breakdancing, rap, and graffiti art. In the 1980s, he was a member of the bands Orla Orbe and Loustal.

In 1991 Chico Science met the Brazilian percussionist Gilmar Bola Oito of the bloco afro Lamento Negro. In the 1980s, musical groups in the state of Pernambuco began creating blocos afro (African-based Carnaval music blocks) and afoxé a secular music form based on ...

Article

Sinhô