2021’s Brazilian Christmas Favorites

Celebrating 25 years of A Brazilian Christmas at Connect Brazil

We’re celebrating 25 years of broadcasting and streaming A Brazilian Christmas.

2021’s Brazilian Christmas favorites! A baker’s dozen of seasonal sambas to help make it the most wonderful time of the year!

Presented by the Consulate General of Brazil in Chicago

Welcome! It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Connect Brazil is celebrating 25 years of broadcasting and streaming A Brazilian Christmas, which made its debut on The Sounds of Brazil radio program in December 1996.

Musicians and listeners like you from all around the world helped A Brazilian Christmas become an annual tradition by bringing a sentimental touch of the Holiday season to countless Brazilian families worldwide.

You are invited to read the story of how A Brazilian Christmas began, and about the Bossa Nova legend who helped bring it to life!

Do you hear what I hear?

Connect Brazil has already begun to sprinkle our unique blend of holiday magic into the playlist on our streaming station, where you can also enjoy our holiday music all day, every Saturday through Christmas Day.

Or let it snow 24/7 with our Brazilian Christmas channel with hundreds and hundreds of Brazilian Christmas favorites.

Caroling, Caroling…

Beginning Tuesday, December 21st our streaming station will bring you 120 consecutive hours of Brazilian Christmas favorites, non-stop through Christmas Day.

Happy holidays, Feliz Natal, and Merry Christmas from your musical friends at Connect Brazil!

Thank you for 25 years of holiday cheer!

– Scott Adams, Host of The Sounds of Brazil! radio show

Jeremy Lister | ‘Christmas In Rio’ from Happy Holidays Everyone

“Music City” Nashville’s Jeremy Lister sure knows how to swing a song. That means great news for all of us this year. Why? Because Lister’s just-released album, Happy Holidays Everyone makes its Connect brazil debut with this breezy and original Bossa melody.

It’s a love song about leaving the cold and snow behind for some much-needed Brazilian warmth. We loved it, and ‘yule’ love it, too.

Get To Know Jeremy Lister

Roberto Perera | ‘What Child Is This’ from Christmas Fantasies

This song was released in 1993 and was part of our very first Brazilian Christmas playlist 25 years ago. Uruguayan harpist Roberto Perera created a wonderful recording uniquely blending the Brazilian spirit with his masterful approach to his instrument. The result? A much-requested fan favorite for the Holidays.

Get To Know Roberto Perera

Nossa Bossa Nova | ‘O Holy Night’ from For Christmas

At first, we were surprised. Then, we were stumped. Nossa Bossa Nova’s quality production and musicality had us singing their praises. But who are they? Perhaps a Bossa cover band from Argentina? No, this talented duo hails from Tucson, Arizona where you’d be lucky to hear them perform. Or just visit their Facebook page for any of a dozen livestreams. A recent addition to our list of 2021’s Brazilian Christmas favorites heard on our year-round streaming channel.

Get To Know Nossa Bossa Nova

Daniela Soledade | ‘My Favorite Things’

You might remember this story from last year. Thanksgiving 2020, to be exact. As America braced itself for the worst of the pandemic, Daniela Soledade opened her heart with a song and a personal story about Covid-19 to reflect on the best things in life.

‘My Favorite Things’ also reminds us about how treasured memories – recalled by this inspiring Holiday classic – can help to sustain us. That’s why his song – even though it isn’t a bona fide Christmas tune – brings us closer together with family and friends whenever we hear it.

Get To Know Daniela Soledade

Lori Mechem | ‘Christmastime Is Here’ from Brazilian Christmas

Simply put, pianist Lori Mecham’s ‘Brazilian Christmas’ is one of our favorite Brazilian-themed holiday CDs.

This is a beautifully crafted instrumental set that combines the natural elegance of the Bossa beat with the quiet, mindful charm of these end-of-year evergreens.

Indiana-born-and-raised, pianist Lori Mechem is yet another gifted musician who calls Nashville home. And she’s gifted us with an elegant collection for 2021’s Brazilian Christmas favorites.

Get To Know Lori Mechem

Al Jarreau | ‘Silent Night’ from Making Spirits Bright

For C-Jazz fans, the run-up to 2001’s Holiday season was filled with several new Christmas albums, and the star-studded lineup for GRP’s Making Spirits Bright was among the best. Guided in part by Lee Ritenour, this compilation was one of the top smooth jazz stocking stuffers of the year.

Slotting in at track five is this song, a soft-Bossa version of ‘Silent Night’ by Al Jarreau, with Ritenour adding the guitar magic.

Bud Harner was the Executive Director of the album, and he recalls: “That was such a fun album to work on, so glad I had that opportunity back then.  We did pretty much everything at Lee’s place in Brentwood with a couple of sessions at Capitol Studio A for the Dave Grusin track and the David Benoit track.”

Needless to say, Jarreau’s version became a popular addition to our list of Brazilian Chritsmas favorites heard throughout the Holiday season, on-air and online.

Sharp-eared fans in Chicago and elsewhere may recall that this song made it to the bonus Holiday disc for the WNUA 95.5: Smooth Jazz Sampler, Vol. 18. And a personal note of thanks to former WNUA Midday host, Rick O’Dell for sharing Bud Harner’s story with us.

Get To Know Al Jarreau

Vinnie Zummo | ‘O Tannenbaum’ from A Retro Cool Bossa Nova Christmas

We wouldn’t be amiss by saying that Vinnie Zummo is a top session choice on the NYC studio scene. Best known for his years spent as Joe Jackson’s guitarist of choice, Zummo also has a particular attraction to Bossa Nova.

So when A Retro Cool Bossa Nova Christmas landed on our desk back in 2001, we were…curious. Then we were happy because this five-star album is chock full of breezy, clever, and creative musical moments. Like this one.

Press play, close your eyes and there you are. Poolside at Copacabana Palace, with a perfect caipirinha at hand. Feliz Natal?

Get To Know Vinnie Zummo

Joao Bosco | ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas’ from A Brasilian Christmas

Christmas music in Brasil is vastly different than here in the USA, where we actually have a place called Tinsletown. In fact, that’s where this song was born. Penned by Kim Gannon and Walter Kent, it became a wartime chart-topper for actor and crooner Bing Crosby in 1943.

The lyrics honor soldiers who longed to be with their loved ones at Christmas time. Brazilian troops were among them, fighting for freedom in Europe. Brazilian radio stations picked up on these songs, too, especially in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.

But even today, some of Brazil’s musicians have been slow to embrace the idea of recording a Christmas tune or two.

You won’t find João Bosco’s name on that list. He’s so proud of his Portuguese version of ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas’ that this album still has a place of honor on his website, 25 years after its release.

That’s because Bosco brings a smooth samba flow to this Christmas love song. And because estranged Brazilians worldwide – who long to be back home with their families – love it too.

Get To Know Joao Bosco

Marcos Ariel | ‘Luz do Natal’ from Noite Feliz

For Brazilian jazz fans, Marcos Ariel and the piano are an inseparable combination. So it is only natural that these two musical “twins” would unite for the creation of some Christmas magic for our list of 2021’s Brazilian Christmas favorites.

Released in 2016, Noite Feliz finds the pianist in a solo setting and Ariel’s mastery explores a range of emotions for this mix of 12 traditional and original songs. Festive and bright on ‘Let It Snow’, thoughtful on the traditional Brazilian Christmas song ‘O Velinho’ and joyously expressive on this original theme, ‘Luz Do Natal’.

Marcos Airel has explored other musically-intimate outings during the course of his storied career. A favorite is 1994’s acoustic duet album with guitarist Victor Bigilone Duets #1, and more recently, his Piano Com Tom Jobim which was released in 2003.

Sitting down to the Brazilian grand brings out a different side to Marcos Ariel’s musical personality, so you’ll be happy to know that his new solo album Piano Blossoms has just been released.

Get To Know Marcos Ariel

Ella & The Bossa Beat | ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’

While Christmastime is often reserved for reflection, here’s a 2021 Brazilian Christmas favorite that invites you to look ahead.

Sung by Judy Garland and first heard in 1944’s musical Meet Me In St. Louis, this song is perfectly paired with the soulful side of Ella and The Bossa Beat’s lead singer. All in, this version brings an emotionally-moving vibe that is sure to catch you by surprise when you hear it on Connect Brazil’s streaming station and the 24/7 Brazilian Christmas channel.

Ella and The Bossa Beat is one of several new Brazilian American voices that we’re keeping an ear on. You should, too.

Get To Know Ella & The Bossa Beat

Manfredo Fest | ‘Good King Wenceslaus’ from A Concord Jazz Christmas, Vol. 2

There’s an old joke that every once in a while reappears to give everyone a good chuckle. It goes like this: Why are there more guitarists in Brazil than piano players? Because it’s not too easy to bring your piano to the beach!

I’m not sure that I first heard that joke from pianist Manfredo Fest, but fittingly, that kind of humor was right in his wheelhouse. I met Manfredo in Minneapolis during my college years and memories of that friendship stayed with me. They are part of the foundation that led to my lifelong love affair with Brazilian music and culture.

Fest at the piano was always a rush of improvisational genius. Just like Charlie Parker, the melody’s purpose was to get out of the way. And what about Manfredo Fest’s creative dexterity?

It is quite possible that Manfredo Fest and Oscar Peterson were separated at birth. One was graced to Canada, the other blessed to Brazil.

For me, placing this song on this list is an honor. For you, it’s a gift. One that just might lead you to discover more of Manfredo Fest’s music over the holidays. I’ll be here to help.

– Scott Adams, host of The Midday Show at Connect Brazil

Get To Know Manfredo Fest

Simone | ‘Jesus Cristo’ from 25 De Dezembro

This album was a bold move for one of Brazil’s most popular performers and it forever changed the Brazilian recording industry. Simone was embroiled in a spat with her record label, so she secretly recorded this album with a competitor to break the deal. Nothing new there.

What was new is 25 De Dezembro, Brazil’s first album dedicated entirely to Christmas music. Simone’s inspiration came from a visit to America the year before. “Walk into a record store and you’ll find yourself surrounded by Christmas-inspired albums,” she explained.

Recorded in Portuguese and Spanish, these 10 songs are a blend of traditional carols, hymns, and Brazilian Christmas songs, fully orchestrated and managed by Brazil’s best producers. A bonus song ‘Ave Maria’ was included in a reissue.

But no one, not even Simone (who celebrates her birthday on Christmas Day), was prepared for this album’s success or its impact on the nation. 25 De Dezembro quickly reached platinum and went on to sell more than 1.1 million copies in a little over a month, achieving diamond status.

25 De Dezembro became Simone’s highest-selling album.

“It was something very unexpected,” she recalled. “We knew there was a lack of Brazilian Christmas records, but the success was much greater than we could imagine. Even now, this record is reborn during this time of the year.”

Get To Know Simone

Oscar Castro-Neves and Toninho Horta | ‘Ave Maria’ from A Brasilian Christmas

This is the album that inspired me to create America’s Brazilian Christmas streaming and broadcast tradition, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. You can read the story of how this Brazilian Christmas radio tradition began, here.

Perhaps it was due to Simone’s success with 25 De Dezembro a year earlier, but when Oscar Castro-Neves and Miles Goodman planned the recording of their first Brazilian album, they choose A Brasilian Christmas.

Sale success was on the minds of all involved. The roster of talented and immensely popular Brazilian musicians places this album in a league of its own.

In addition to Bossa Nova legend Castro-Neves, instrumental stars Leo Gandelman, Ricardo Silveira and Toninho Horta signed on. Joyce, João Bosco, Dori Caymmi, Ivan Lins, and Bebel Gilberto were the featured vocalists.

‘Ave Maria’ is the first of the album’s 13 songs, featuring guitarists Oscar Castro-Neves and Toninho Horta. In this case, “saving the best for last” is our way of welcoming you to your own list of 2021’s Brazilian Christmas favorites

Get To Know Oscar Castro-Neves and Toninho Horta

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