People say a good way to know a country is wandering by its music. But in the case of Brazil, this task would be an endless expedition. From north to south, Brazil is as vast as the sounds that are made there. So, it is better forget about definitions and just get carried away by the mix of influences and unique rhythms such as bossa nova, samba, forró and axé, which emerged in different decades and still amazing until today. Among the names that have crossed borders, Tom Jobim, João Gilberto, Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil are on top, the whole world has embraced them as its own and they became “must-listen” when the subject is music. Below, we list other important artists, from past and present, you may not know, but are also essential and offer a small tasting of what would be the brazilian music.
1. Elis Regina
Known for her beautiful voice and also for her strong personality, Elis (1945-1982) is considered one of the greatest stars of brazilian popular music. Her interpretations impressed the people by the mix of emotions (check “Arrastão”, “O bêbado e a equilibrista”, “Como nossos pais”). She also did unforgettable duets with Milton Nascimento, Jair Rodrigues and Tom Jobim – who she has a complete album with, “Elis & Tom”. Worth highlighting “Águas de Março”, a five stars song.
2. Milton Nascimento
Grown in Minas Gerais, this is one of the brazilian singers and composers most respected abroad. Known for famous songs such as “Canção da América”, “Maria, Maria”, “Coração de Estudante” and “Caçador de mim”, Milton was also one of the co-founders of the movement Clube da Esquina in the 60s with Lô Borges, Toninho Horta, Flávio Venturini, among others. Beatles fans, these young mineiros mixed jazz, psychedelic rock, folk and other rhythms like the song “Tudo que você podia ser”.
3. Nação Zumbi
The band started in the early 90s, in Recife, and initiated the manguebeat movement, which mixes regional rhythms such as maracatu, with rock, hip hop and electronic beats. Led by Chico Science, dead at 97, the group got famous not only for the beat, but also for the social message of their compositions, as “A Cidade”, “Da lama ao caos” and “Manguetown”. The band still exists under the leadership of the vocalist Jorge Du Peixe.
4. Wilson Simonal
Influenced by samba, soul and funk, Simonal (1938-2000) was one of the most successful singers in Brazil in the 60s and 70s. One of his greatest hits “Sá Marina” was rewritten by Stevie Wonder and Sergio Mendes. Another important composition was “País Tropical”, known in Jorge Ben Jor voice, another genius of brazilian music. But if you had to choose one of their most striking song, listen “Nem vem que não tem”.
5. Paulinho da Viola
Singer and songwriter, he is one of the representatives of the authentic carioca samba. Early in his career, has partnered with others important names in samba, such as Cartola and Candeia. In 2008, he was awarded with the Latin Gramy in the category of best album. Among his memorable songs are “Coração Leviano”, “Foi um rio que passou em minha vida” and “Pecado capital”.
6. Os Mutantes
The original members, of 1966, are Rita Lee, Arnaldo Baptista and Sergio Dias. Together they created one of the leading bands of brazilian rock at the same time that Tropicalia movement (led by Caetano and Gil) appeared. Influenced by bands like The Beatles and The Beach Boys, the Mutantes were creative and irreverent in the age of psychedelia. The hit “Panis et circenses” gives a sample of it.
Exponent of the new generation, the paulistana singer, 34, has recorded three albums very successful in Brazil and abroad. Bossa nova, hip hop, reggae and samba are among her influences. In Eclipse Oculto, she ends her sweet and soft voice, doing an unique interpretation of Caetano Veloso song.
8. Adriana Calcanhoto
She was born in Porto Alegre and conquered the whole country as soon as she started her career in the early 90s’, showing her “voice and guitar style”. In 2004, with a consolidated career, she plunged into the children universe and recorded the awarded album Adriana Partimpim. Success among adults and kids, she is also known for her excellent covers like Gatinha Manhosa, Devolva-me, Sonífera Ilha e o recente Me dê motivo, famous in the voice of another brazilian glorious performer, Tim Maia.
He’s one of the most acclaimed revelations in recent times. From Grajaú, suburb of São Paulo, he works masterfully samba, hip hop and afrobeats in his songs. One of the most famous, “Não existe amor em SP”, is those sticky hits that made the whole Brazil get hooked on the singer, who has duets with Caetano Veloso, Ney Matogrosso, Mulatu Astatke – one of his great idols.
10. Felipe Cordeiro
Mixing lambada, rock, electronic music and especially carimbó (pace of indigenous origin), the composer and singer of Belém do Pará, emerges as one of the leading renovators of brazilian pop. Along with Gaby Amarantos and Pio Lobato, he integrates the "cult kitsch", movement that explodes in the North. Pay attention to the guitar introduction of “Problema é seu” and surrender.
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