THE 7 MOST IMPORTANT BRAZILIAN MUSICAL ARTISTS
Pioneers, virtuosos, icons or stars, the men and women celebrated on this list of Brazilian music artists make up a select and special group. Taking their art with them to eternity, these 10 Brazilian singers, instrumentalists, composers, conductors and producers continue to enchant us and to inspire new generations of Brazilian musicians. More than this is a list, it is a tribute to the history of Brazilian music.
1. TOM JOBIM – The sovereign conductor of Brazilian Popular Music
Tom Jobim, born in 1927 in Rio de Janeiro, was once supposed to attend one of the city’s prominent architecture schools. However, the Carioca soon forgot that he wanted to be an architect of buildings when he turned into the most brilliant architect of Brazilian harmonies and melodies who has ever lived. Tom Jobim constructed what came to be called Música Popular Brasileira (MPB), or “Popular Brazilian Music.” MPB is a vague term for the work of a genius who distinguished himself by describing in sounds what words could not describe: the mountains, the sun and the sea among other architectural wonders of God. Tom Jobim, the infamous composer, conductor, pianist, singer, arranger and guitarist participated in more than 50 records during his lifetime.
2. JOÃO GILBERTO - The revolutionary father of Bossa Nova
While Tom Jobim is the number one Brazilian artist on this list, it is absolutely certain that he would never become the icon that is if he had not surfed the very first wave of João Gilberto’s invention. João Gilberto took apart and rebuilt Tom Jobim through his influence, making Jobim into a fundamental symbol of Bossa Nova, the most important movement in Brazilian music to date.
Any Brazilian musician who came after 1959 was reinvented by João Gilberto. Gilberto’s musical influence radically and irreversibly altered the DNA of Brazilian music. In Bossa Nova, every musical sound (melody, harmony, rhythm and dynamics) was moved to another place by the force of syncopated guitar, inverted chords and flowing voice. But the best part about João Gilberto is that you do not have to have any theoretical knowledge to take advantage of his musical impact.
3. CHICO BUARQUE - The versatile poet of popular Brazilian song
The importance of Chico Buarque to Brazilian popular music can be defined in several ways. As a combative artist, he did not hesitate to sing about the plight of the ordinary man in the iconic ”Pedro Pedreiro” (1965), amidst the first flights of military dictatorship in Brazil. Chico Buarque actively participated in MPB festivals with songs like ”A Banda,” a cry for freedom of expression, ”Roda Viva,” a protest against repression, and ”Sabiá,” (a collaboration with Tom Jobim), singing in favor of Brazilians - like him - forced to live in exile.
During the 70′s, Chico Buarque called for the preservation of civil rights with the samba “Apesar de Você,” and during the 80′s Buarque composed soundtracks for Brazilian films, theatre and ballet. In the 90′s, Chico Buarque successfully shifted to writing books. And today Buarque alternates between music and literature, with ease and quality.
4. CAETANO VELOSO - An omnipresent presence in Brazilian Music
There is nothing in Popular Brazilian Music that Caetano Veloso hasn’t touched. Like the Bossa Nova of Joao Gilberto, the Tropicalism movement (a movement engendered not only by Caetano Veloso, but mostly by him) caused an irreversible effect, and has become invaluable to subsequent generations. It’s involuntary: everything that we hear today – even that which was created before the existence of Caetano - strikes us as invariably modified because of the concepts invented by him at that time. These are concepts that have already assimilated deeply into our eardrums.
Caetano’s revolution began during the Festival da Record of 1967, when the Baiano presented his song “Alegria Alegria” accompanied by the controversial electric guitars of the Argentinian rock group Beat Boys. This shocking sound imploded the dogmas of MPB, and nothing was ever the same.
5. JORGE BEN JOR - The revolutionary aesthetic of a self-taught genius
His lack of formal education for the art of the guitar led Jorge Ben Jor to invent his very own complex and distinctive way of playing. Jorge Ben’s simple complexity, sophistication, and modern reinterpretation of the his influences set him apart. In 1963, with the debut of Samba Esquema Novo, there was nothing that sounded like the songs, instruments and voice that only Jorge Ben Jor wrote and played. His music incorporated Samba beats, Bossa Nova harmonies with the flow of rock n ’roll. That coupled with a timid voice and an ultra-personal tone resulted in revolutionary aesthetic which caused estrangement of the purists and aroused admiration and envy among many on this list. In the following decade, Jorge Ben Jor established a connection with Africa, incorporating black rhythms from soul and American funk music.
6. ROBERTO CARLOS – The artist who is the face of Brazilian music
Roberto Carlos may not be immediately classifiable as “the best” (the best singer, best songwriter, best artist, best marketer …), but still. Over the past nearly 50 years he has been the face of Brazil. During this period, the myth Roberto Carlos has constructed an image of a common Brazilian, with weaknesses, hesitations, romantic illusions, and also doses of warmth, openness, honesty, sensitivity and simplicity. Roberto Carlos is just as deeply Brazilian as Samba, soccer, the fusca, rice and brand, Saci Pererê, Iracema, the caatinga, Sonia Braga, Silvio Santos, Os Trapalhões, and Carnival …Roberto Carlos is also the author of an enormous number of Brazilian hits such as ”Se Você Pensa”, “As Curvas da Estrada de Santos”, “Jesus Cristo”, “Sua Estupidez”, “Detalhes”, “Amigo”, “Além do Horizonte”, “É Proibido Fumar”, “Ilegal”, “Imoral ou Engorda”, “Quero Que Vá Tudo pro Inferno”…it’s a list that almost has no end.
7. GILBERTO GIL - His career is intertwined with the history of Brazilian culture
Gilberto Gil’s career is deeply intertwined with the history of Brazilian culture.With Tropicalism (tropicalismo), his exile in London and return to Brazil, Gil had an inventive militancy and revolutionary music. Gil’s record “Londrino” from 1971 showed “Brazilianness” even in the songs that he didn’t write. In Brazil, with “Expresso 2222,” Gilberto Gil merged what was the most modern thinking of his time, with traditional sounds from the Brazilian Northeast. Gilberto Gil’s political-musical career amounted to his being named the Brazilian Minister of Culture in 2003.