April is Brazil’s month of discovery. Explore our list of anniversaries for Brazil’s music makers.
April’s Brazilian music birthdays include Rio’s first Escola de Samba,
a pair of Millennial Music Makers, a new country and… Rosa Passos.
Sabrina Malheiros – April 4 / Brisa Mar
Happy birthday, Sabrina! The talented singing and songwriting daughter of famed Azymuth bassist Alex Malheiros celebrates today, as she takes a moment to recall her debut performance: “I remember it as if it was yesterday, how excited and nervous I was the day we made my UK concert debut on 18 May 2005 at Jazz Cafe, just after the release of my album! It was a real turning point in my life.” Like most of our favorite musicians from Rio de Janeiro, Sabrina has embraced virtual sessions to entertain and stay in touch with concerned fans. We can’t wait to see what her next album brings!
Kell Smith – April 7 / Seja Gentil
There’s a reason why Kell Smith graced the cover of our Millennial Music Makers story last October: She’s becoming a modern face of Brazil’s always-evolving MPB. Growing up with gospel music as a daughter of missionaries, Keylla’s musical interests emerged after her father introduced her to Elis Regina’s Falso Brilhante album as a 12-year-old. YouTube launched her career in 2017 with ‘Era Uma Vez’ (‘Once Upon A Time’) with more than 270 million views and 65 million plays on Spotify.
Moacir Santos – April 8 / Nana
If the term ‘Choro’ is Brazil’s answer to American ‘jazz’, then surely Moacir Santos must be thought of as its Ellington. His well-crafted and elegantly poised songs are easy on the ears and they rightly showed us a side to Brazilian music that is not commonly recognized here in the US. The Choro is a wonderful song style – it can be joyously happy or languid and somewhat melancholy at a turn, and Moacir Santos was masterful at bringing Choro to life. An accomplished reedman, horn player, and pianist, Santos was born in Pernambuco, before moving first to Rio de Janeiro, then on to the USA where he continued his amazing recording and performing career. Moacir Santos passed away in 2006.
Dia da Escola de Samba (Portela) – April 11 / Desfile 2020
Brazil’s ‘Samba School Day’ is celebrated annually on April 11th to recognize the creation of Carnaval’s very first samba school. These escolas de samba or ‘samba schools’ set Carnaval’s pace and are common throughout the country. They’re actually not schools at all, but large community organizations from city districts and favelas in large cities live Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. Each Escola may have as many as 5,000 marchers, an annual theme with floats, costumes, and an original song to compete in front of 90,000 cheering spectators. This special day is a tribute to the founding of the first carnival group, Conjunto Carnavalesco Oswaldo Cruz, which grew to become one of Rio’s most famous and awarded samba schools: Grêmio Recreativo Escola de Samba Portela in 1935.
Rosa Passos- April 13 / Dunas
Delicately creative on her own terms, singer and songwriter Rosa Passos (and her steady rise out of Brazil’s “best-kept secret” category) has earned her the respect of her peers and the undying admiration of her fans worldwide. How did this happen? By virtue of her touring performances with Yo-Yo Ma and her appearance on Kenny Rankin’s award-winning Here In My Heart album, adding to her own critically acclaimed string of solo albums. She has all the modern phrasing and techniques, but throughout her career, Rosa Passos never seems too far away from those early samba vocalists of the ’60s. As with all great singers, Passos’s soulful warmth has grown from her early influences to bring forth a vocal presence that is immediately recognizable. And cherished. Feliz anniversario, Rosa!
Orlando Haddad & Patricia King – April 19, April 27 / Bossa Nova Day
From the very beginning, The Philadelphia-based, husband and wife group Minas has enjoyed a special relationship with the music they create. It’s grown to become a Brazilian love story for Orlando Haddad and Patricia King. Both make our list of April’s Brazilian music birthdays. “We met in college,” says Haddad, who celebrates on April 19th. “We both went to the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem. I came there from Rio to study composition, and Patricia came from Pennsylvania to study opera. We were colleagues and took a lot of classes together.” Today, the band is one of Philadelphia’s most popular musical acts. Their music has appeared in film, television, and public and college radio, and their success has led to a string of CDs. At the heart of Minas is a blend of pop, samba, and Brazilian jazz is Haddad playing guitar and Patricia at the piano. She celebrates her birthday on April 27th.
Belo – April 22 / Vida Que Segue
Marcelo Viera Pires (better known as Belo) celebrates his birthday today. Belo started his career as a cavaquinho player with Sao Paulo’s legendry group Soweto, later becoming a lead singer. His early success led to greater achievements and soon Belo became a major voice for Brazilian Pagode. He is a perennial top-seller. Headlines of a different sort have also followed this singing star: He served six years for drug trafficking, and he has a checkered past with his business dealings. This year, Belo was released by authorities after having been questioned about a clandestine concert during Rio de Janeiro’s COVID lockdown. In fact, this biographical song even hints at the story behind the event, and it has already become a radio hit in Rio. Here’s wishing a happy birthday to this talented singer and performer. More music, fewer headlines. Okay, Belo?
Brazil’s Discovery Day – April 22, 1500 / Tres Caravelas
Twenty-eight days and 513 years ago, navigator Pedro Álvares Cabral set sail with a fleet of 13 vessels from the port of Lisbon, charged by Portugal’s Emperor to follow in the wake of his fellow Portuguese explorers Bartolomeu Dias (the first sailor to round Africa’s Cape of Good Hope) and Vasco da Gama, who initiated the trade route to India. Within a period of 15 short years, Dias and da Gama had elevated Portugal to world power status and Cabral was eager to make his mark. He tacked along Africa’s coast until he reached the Cape Verde Islands, then turned southwest into the unknown. A few weeks later, Cabral’s lead ship sighted mountains on the horizon and several days later his fleet sailed into a large bay, which would later be given the title of Porto Seguro. It’s that day, April 22nd, 1500 that Brazil annually celebrates ‘Discovery Day’: The day the Portuguese landed in the southern part of the state of Bahia, and even though it is not a national holiday, it somehow can still turn into a well-deserved three-day weekend for Brazilians.
Note: We couldn’t find Cabral’s personal playlist for this story on April’s Brazilian music birthdays, so we’ve substituted his song for one from another Discovery Day, courtesy of Gilberto Gil.
Alexia Bomtempo – April 28 / Even Now
Recently featured as part of Millennial Music Makers, Alexia Bomtempo was born in Washington DC, then spent her childhood in Brazil before trading zip codes in Japan and New York City. “I’ve wanted to be an artist for as long as I can remember and was very fortunate to be raised in a home where we constantly listened to great records,” she says. Songs like Alexia’s version of Edu Lobo’s ‘Even Now’ are helping to make Suspiro contend as a breakout album, and it just missed becoming one of Connect Brazil’s best albums for 2020.
Vinicius Cantuaria – April 29 / Sem Pisar No Chao
For a time, overnight sensation Vinicius Cantuaria honed his skills as a songwriter, singer, and guitarist at the right hand of Caetano Veloso, and the influence still remains with great effect on his long career. Today, he makes of video list of April’s Brazilian music birthdays. Anniversaries are what this monthly series is all about. But beginnings are sometimes even more important, and that’s the case with Cantuaria’s first album as a solo artist, Sol Na Cara, which eloquently blends that Brazilian sense of nature with the cosmopolitan sounds of Brazilian pop on a dozen memorable tracks. As we look back, it’s easy to see that the electronica element (a subtle but steady presence throughout) was an early ancestor to the Brazilian Chill/Lounge movement. Sol Na Cara launched a series of almost annual releases for Cantuaria, and while each of his recordings makes great use of his considerable talent as both a songwriter and performer, none match the whimsical spirit of this album. Its critical success merits your reconsideration, too. Gorgeous and mesmerizing, Connect Brazil named Sol Na Cara the winner of Best Brazilian Debut Album of 1997.
Roy Stephansen – April 30 / Carefree Days In Cabo Frio
Let’s wrap up our video list of April’s Brazilian music brithdays with a trip to The Land of the Midnight Sun, where the air is clean. Pure as the fallen snow. One of the world’s northmost regions, Finnmark sits on the southern shore of the Arctic Ocean but it’s the Northern Lights that come in waves. It’s also home to jazz Trombonist Roy Stephansen, whose long-distance love affair with Brazilian music began in the ’80s with Raul de Souza. Musically, Stephansen’s Brazil comes to life in tropical tones and breezy melodies, making songs like ‘Carefree Days In Cabio Frio’ an irresistible invitation to get away. Listen, and you’re virtually there, just like Roy.
April’s Brazilian Music Birthdays
Stories like this are what we do. Why don’t you join us?