December’s Brazilian Music Birthdays

December's Brazilian musical birthdays include singer and songwriter Roberta Sa.
December's Brazilian musical birthdays include singer and songwrit er Roberta Sa.

Browse our video list of December birthdays for Brazil’s music makers.

December’s Brazilian Music Birthdays include a legendary crooner, Brazil’s first Pop Songwriter, a trio of MPB stars from different generations, and a supremely magical acoustic jazz guitarist.

National Day of Samba – December 2 | Zeca Pagodinho’s Verdade

Today is the official National Day of Samba, the internationally-famous song form that is uniquely Brazilian. Samba’s infectious rhythm invites even people with two left feet to dance along. But be warned: this simple two-step can take a lifetime to master.

Sambas come in all shapes and sizes. There are sambas for dancing called pagode sambas.  Quieter, melodic sambas may be called samba-cançãos. But the exhilarating marches that propel the samba parades during Carnaval are called samba-enredos. There are sambas to celebrate life, love, a sunny day, or even a cloudy day! Samba is part philosophy, part dance, and the lifeblood of Brazilians worldwide.

Curiously, the date of December 2nd has little to do with Samba’s first hit song. So, what was the inspiration for one of Brazil’s most popular non-holiday observances? Click here to find out.

Toninho Horta – December 2 | Mountain Flight

Today marks the birthday of one of Brazil’s most talented guitarists. Antônio Maurício Horta de Melo was born in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais and played an important role with Milton Nascimento’s Clube da Esquina movement.

Horta’s Diamond Land is a definitive album for Brazilian jazz. Back then, we wrote, “Words pale by comparison to the music found here.” The song ‘Mountain Flight’ from that album was the first song ever played on The Sounds of Brazil’s syndicated radio show.

Horta was a Berklee School of Music grad at the same time Pat Metheny attended. That’s where he developed his unique style of guitar play. At times, Horta’s style distinctly sounds like two guitars playing simultaneously.

An honorary citizen of Austin, Texas, Toninho Horta won a Latin Grammy for his album, Belo Horizonte.

Emilio Santiago – December 6 | Água de Coco

We remember singer Emilio Santiago on his birthday. For a country that’s gifted us more than its fair share of unique voices, Santiago’s will always stand out. He is a worthy addition to our list of December’s Brazilian Music Birthdays.

Some say his sound is a throwback to Brazil’s pre-Bossa ’50s. That’s when another crooner – Dick Farney – reigned supreme over the musical landscape in Rio. Farney was a staple of young carioca teens back then He was on a plateau shared only by Sinatra when the topic of the day turned to the latest and greatest jazz singers. And so it was with Emilio Santiago.

Santiago’s career was resurrected by the ‘Aquarela Brasileira’ series which established and then redefined his unique place in contemporary Brazilian music.

Noel Rosa – December 11 | Conversa de Botequim

During his short 27 years of life, Noel de Medeiros Rosa became a standout vocalist and songwriter. Although shy and withdrawn, he excelled on stage to become one of the pioneering early stars of Brazilian popular music.

Rosa’s gifted style moved Samba from the streets to the salons of Rio. Rosa gave it a new urban sound at the same time America was exploding with the Roaring ’20s.

Rosa is often referred to as ‘Brazil’s Cole Porter.’ It’s a convenient comparison given the era in which these two lived. But Porter’s Jazz Age was far different than Brazil’s, which was preparing to broaden its popular musical horizons only a decade or so after Samba’s birth in the hills above old Rio.

Today, Noel Rosa is hailed as Brazil’s first pop songwriter.

Roberta Sa – December 19 | Água Doce 

Roberta Sa is already a prominent voice within her country’s rising generation. Today is her birthday.

Roberta Sa is attracting attention from the stratosphere of Brazilian pop, by virtue of her 2017 Latin Grammy nomination and a brace of radio hits. A song about the spirit of Bahia was a gift from Gilberto Gil. It’s proved to be a showcase for her talent. Not familiar? I’m betting that you’ll love her style.

More so than many Brazilian Millennial pop singers Roberta Sa keeps close ties to the traditions of MPB. She has a distinctive contemporary style that draws her fans into her music. Get to know Roberta Sa’s music below. And when the time comes for her next album to be released, you’re sure to hear about it on our homepage.

Patricia Talem – December 21 | Sorte

Happy birthday to Sao Paulo singer and songwriter Patricia Talem. She burst on the Brazilian music scene during the summer of 2009 with the first of three five-star albums. Talem belongs to a new generation of Brazilian music talent. “I was very young when I began to sing in the pubs of São Paulo,” she said in an interview. “I have also been influenced by the music of Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais, the land of Milton Nascimento.”

Songs like ‘Tarde Solar’ and ‘Só de Você’ helped her self-titled Patricia Talem quickly find new fans worldwide. That was especially true especially here in America. The debut album featured Russell Ferrante and Jimmy Haslip from The Yellowjackets, along with Sandro Albert’s guitars. Seldom has a new voice achieved this high level of fan support. Ohlos and Sorte soon followed.

Today, Patricia has put her music career on hold to raise her family. But we look forward to the time when her next album arrives on our doorstep.

Simone – December 25 | Começar De Novo

Simone Bittencourt de Oliveira was born on Christmas Day in Salvador, Bahia. But her first claim to fame wasn’t as a singer and performer. It was as a professional basketball player. In fact, she moved to Sao Paulo as a teen to join Brazil’s woman’s national Basketball team.

Her college years were spent majoring in physical education. But her life took a musical turn soon after.

A friend invited Simone to sing at a dinner, where a highly-respected Record label exec was in attendance. He offered her a recording contract on the spot to begin one of Brazil’s greatest musical success stories.

Rita Lee – December 31 | Mania De Você

Let’s wrap up the year with a happy birthday to Rita Lee Jones. She celebrates her birthday today.

Half American and all Brazilian, Rita Lee’s commercial success has blazed a trail for the rest of Brazil’s female pop singers to follow. A mainstay during Brazil’s fleeting Tropicalia movement, Lee evolved into her signature sound. A lightly tropical mix of pop-rock mixed with sassy and often irreverent and suggestive lyrics.

The result? Rita Lee has garnered Gold and Platinum albums for decades. This tongue-in-cheek playfulness is captured with songs like ‘ ‘Chega Mais,’ ‘Mania de Voce,’ and ‘Fruta Madura’. Rita Lee’s many pop hits include ‘Caso Serio’ and ‘Lança Perfume’.

Lee’s fascination with the Beatles led to the 2001 album ‘Bossa ‘n Beatles. “From ‘63 to ’70, I drink, ate, smoked and breathed Beatles,” she writes. “I was forever drawing their silhouettes everywhere, but my very best pictures of the four were the ones I drew of every one of them, in pencil, on the best quality paper I could get: the sort the bakers wrapped the bread my father used to buy each morning.”

Rita Lee has sold more than 60 million albums in her career and her autobiography was ranked as Brazil’s best-selling non-fiction book of 2017.

December’s Brazilian Music Birthdays

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