July’s Brazilian Music Birthdays

brazilian singer marisa monte

Explore our video list of birthdays in July for Brazil’s music makers.

July’s Brazilian Music Birthdays include a true MPB Diva, a New Bossa Queen, a pair of Brazilian soft-rockers, an internationally-famous rhythm, and the son of a famous piano-playing, Brazilian jazz father.

Marisa Monte – July 1 | Maria de Verdade

As musically revolutionary for her generation as Gal Costa was to hers, Marisa Monte’s stature as Brazil’s top pop Diva never wavers.

Born in Rio de Janeiro on this day in 1967, Monte became an overnight sensation when she teamed up with producer Nelson Motta who helped her create the hybrid pop-rock style that has made her internationally famous.

She prepared for her career by moving to Rome for several months, studying bel canto, the centuries-old vocal training that defines her uniquely Brazilian style. Monte has sold more than 10 million albums worldwide, and her extensive list of awards includes a quartet of Latin Grammys. Rolling Stone Brasil lists Marisa Monte as Brazil’s second greatest vocalist (behind the legendary Elis Regina) and two of her albums – MM and Rose and Charcoal – are prominently placed on the magazine’s list of Brazil’s 100 Best Albums.

Happy birthday, Marisa!

Phil Fest – July 3 | Cutting Edge

Born in Minneapolis, guitarist Phill Fest is the son of legendary Brazilian jazz pianist Manfredo Fest.

Phill’s mother is a composer and music instructor, so it’s no surprise that Phill was influenced by Brazilian music and American jazz at an early age. “I remember hangin’ with Sergio Mendez backstage many times as a kid,” says Phill.

It didn’t hurt that his dad just happened to be the keyboardist and Music Director for the legendary group Bossa Rio, which was the opening act for Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 for three years. Following in the musical footsteps of famous parents can be challenging for some, but in Phill’s case, it has been inspirational.

You can hear it in his music. Phill has just released a new acoustic Brazilian jazz album called Seresta, recorded in the family’s hometown of Porto Alegre in southern Brazil.

Wondering about the name? Seresta is the Portuguese word for Sizzle!

Rosalia de Souza – July 4 | Melhor Esta Noite

We’ve come to expect great things from Rosalia de Souza since her early days as a stable singer for the Milan-based label, Schema. Her solo career began with the New Bossa gem Garota Moderna (Modern Girl) and it (along with Bebel Gilberto’s Tanto Tempo) rekindled our excitement with Bossa Nova.

Then came a string of superb, jazzy recordings as a solo performer including Brasil Precisa Balançar, and D’Improvviso. She’s recorded with Toco, and with Viennese DJs and producers Gerhard Gigler and Gerald Tomez (Pilots on Dope).

It’s clear that as an artist, Rosalia de Souza has created her niche as opposed to finding it. Her music plays to the notions of tradition as seen through a 21st Century prism, and Brazilian music is all that much better for it.

Toquinho – July 6 | Aquarela

Perhaps it’s too early to say whether Brazil’s Millennials will carry on their parent’s love of Toquiho and his music. We hope so because his unique role in MPB and Brazilian pop is irreplaceable.

Antônio Pecci Filho was born in Sao Paulo to Italian immigrants and his Italian roots tinted his musical creativity, so much so that he is almost as beloved in Italy as he is in his homeland. Toquinho’s big break came with a song called ‘Lua Cheira’ (Full Moon), which he composed with Chico Buarque. It wasn’t long before his first radio hit came along when he recorded ‘Que Maraviha’ in 1970.

If you remember two things about Toquinho here they are: One, His career is highlighted by the many years he spent writing, recording, and performing with Vinicius de Moraes, and two, his 1983 song ‘Aquarela’ is his most popular song worldwide.

Written as a children’s song, it is actually the story of the rebirth of freedom in Brazil after the dictatorship. It’s been recorded in several languages. Maybe we could use an English version, too.

Cecy Santana – July 9 | Sao Paulo

Being a bonafide Brazilian American singer and songwriter has its advantages. Take Chicago’s Cecy Santana for example.

Born in Sao Paulo as the talented daughter of a celebrated musical family (her dad is famed trumpeter Carlos Santana), she keeps a foot in both countries. And her music follows the same rule.

Santana is best known for her variety of sounds and styles ranging from pop music to dancefloor anthems to Bossa Nova and beyond. Later this month, she’ll headline the prestigious International Tyrrhenian Jazz Festival in southern Italy.

As a performer, Cecy Santana’s musical feijoada always surprises and entertains. Enjoy her original ‘Sao Paulo’, above.

Bossa Nova – July 10, 1958 | Chega de Saudade

Our list of July’s Brazilian Music Birthdays includes the birth of Bossa Nova. The definitive take of ‘Chega de Saudade’ was recorded at the Odean Studios in Rio de Janeiro on this date in 1958 by Joao Gilberto.

The sessions took place over a three-day period, at roughly the same time that the Brazilian group Os Cariocas had recorded their version of the song across the hall. But that version’s release was delayed and Joao Gilberto can rightfully claim credit for recording the first true Bossa Nova song. Gilberto was not the first to record the song, nor the second.

But his guitar is heard on both. How did a down-on-his-luck musician become Bossa Nova’s unlikely hero? Read A World Without Bossa Nova to find out.

Joao Bosco – July 13 | Latin Lovers

The debate continues. Is João Bosco’s avant-garde style of vocal percolation an offshoot of Bossa Nova, or MPB? Or is he really a jazz singer cloaked in the trappings of a uniquely talented troubadour?

While the answer may never be fully concluded, the question will always remain easy on the ears. It’s that way with his music, too. Over the storied course of his career, Bosco has shaped Brazilian pop as both a songwriter and as a guitar-wielding singer.

His best songs? Too many to mention on this page. Ditto for the songs he’s penned for others to record. We have fellow guitarist Lee Ritenour to thank for bringing the music of Joao Bosco to our American ears. Here they are together, on ‘Latin Lovers’.

This song is so famous that it’s always on the setlist wherever Joao Bosco’s passport takes him. Happy birthday, Joao!

Ricardo Bacelar – July 19 | Toda Menina Baiana

The posters for the Blue Note Rio had been taken down. The recording for Ao Vivo No Rio – Live In Rio was complete when the pandemic swept across the Americas. We were isolated, removed from the intimacy that comes from enjoying live music. And that got pianist Ricardo Bacelar thinking about what he could do to help. “People need the warm sound and the feelings of live music in the safety and comfort of your home.” So, during a time when very few Brazilian jazz albums were being released, Ricardo Bacelar gave us this album. “I love the sound of the album because you can hear the energy of the live performance and the sound of playing in a jazz club,” he said. “The Blue Note isn’t a big place – about 300 people – so you can hear the ambiance of playing in a small club.” It’s his birthday today, and an opportunity to say thank you for the gift, Ricardo! Learn more about Ricardo Bacelar here.

Flavio Venturini – July 23 | Nuvems

Flavio Venturini, who was a member of Milton Nascimento’s legendary Clube da Esquina group and helped to form the Brazilian pop group 14 BIS, is a prolific songwriter – his songs have been performed by Simone, Emilio Santiago, Leila Pinheiro, Jane Duboc (who recorded an entire album on his best songs) and Milton Nascimento with Peter Gabriel – to name but a few.

On this side of the equator, Flavio’s melodies are best appreciated when woven in dream-like fashion with Jane Duboc, and with guitarist Torcuato Mariano who also produced what many think is Flavio’s greatest album Noites Com Sol (Nights With Sun).

Since its debut on The Sounds of Brazil in 1994, it remains a standout recording from one of Brazil’s most celebrated pop singers/songwriters and has been kept off our list of Desert Island Discs only because of its rarity.

Our suggestion? Begin your search now, or ask us to help you.

This way, you’ll have the rest of the summer to enjoy it.

Guilherme Arantes – July 28 | Bom Presságio

Guilherme Arantes is on July’s Brazilian Music Birthdays list. Even if he hadn’t written hits like ‘Cuide-se Bem’ or ‘Coisas do Brasil’ (one of Leila Pinheiro’s best songs).

Or if he hadn’t recorded playlist favorites like ‘Bom Pressagio’, ‘Light and Sound’ and his more-than-excellent Portuguese cover of Carole King’s ‘It’s Too Late’ (‘Muito Tarde’). Even if these things had not happened, Guilherme Arantes would still be one of Brazil’s best soft-rock singers in MPB history.

After all, he hit big with his first album in 1976 when his plaintive ‘Meu Mundo E Nada Mais’ made Brazilian radio history. And he’s been a playlist regular on our weekly radio program and our streaming station ever since we first started to play his music here in the USA in the early ’90s.

Do we like his music? Oh yeah, we do! Happy birthday Guilherme!

Paula Morelenbaum – July 31 | As Praias Desertas

Have a VHS copy of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s Jazzvisions recording with Gal Costa at the Wiltern Theater handy? Take an extra 100 bonus points if you have the Laserdisc.

Look closely on the right side of the stage to spot Paula Morelenbaum, second from the left in the all-female chorus. You’ll see her husband, cellist Jaques Morelenbaum, too. That was pretty much her first professional break; touring with Jobim as part of the New Band in 1987.

A great beginning to a remarkable career with Bossa Nova and Brazilian jazz. But it was in 2001 – seven years after Jobim’s passing – when her experience with the New Band reaped an ultimate reward.

That’s when Paula Morelenbaum and her husband joined up with pianist Ryuichi Sakamoto to record their tribute album, Casa in Jobim’s home studio, with his own piano. Here, Paula Morelenbaum’s talent perfectly captures the musical scene. Listen to her sing ‘Bonita’, and her interplay with Sakamoto on ‘As Praias Desertas’.

Critic Neil Tesser says it best: “Paula Morelenbaum sings in tones of sweet, dark claret, tinged with saudade, the bittersweet melancholy that deepens Brazilian expressions of love and joy.”

July’s Brazilian Music Birthdays

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