While Brazil has a land area that’s larger than the United States and is considered the fifth biggest country in the world, only two of its musical form – bossa nova and samba – are popular to most people. Brazilian music, however, has many aspects. Music is a big part of Brazilian culture and can take diverse forms as its people.
The music of Brazil is composed of varied regional music forms that has been influenced by Portuguese, African and Amerindian styles. After half a century of history, Brazilian music has come up with innovative and unique styles like bossa nova, samba, Brazilian rock, forró, axé, choro, tropicalia, maracatu, bregam frevo, pagoda, sertanejo, RAP, and MBP.
Legends of Brazilian Music
The famous music artists featured below have made Brazilian music what it is today. This list of legendary performers include some of the best singers, musicians and songwriters in the country’s history. While this short list doesn’t have enough space to recognize the countless talents in Brazil’s music universe, the iconic artists below are what we believe are its brightest stars. In no particular order, they are:
1. Antonio Carlos Jobim
Think of Brazilian music and you’ll hear the songs of Antonio Carlos Jobim. This prolific musician, composer and singer wrote most of the tunes that have defined contemporary Brazilian music. Because of all his contribution to the art, Jobim has been given the title “The Master.”
Antonio Carlos Jobim, also known as Tom Jobim, was behind such unforgettable hits like “Garota de Ipanema” (“Girl from Ipanema”), “Chega de Saudade” and “Corcovado” (“Quite Nights”). “The Girl from Ipanema” was one of the most recorded songs of all time. The large volume of music that he left for the world are always included in pop and jazz repertoires.
2. Gilberto Gil
Gilberto Gil is one of the extraordinary talents in Brazilian music, having produced a string of hits that are original and expressive. He is one of the fathers (with Caetano Veloso) of the Tropicalia movement that became big in Brazil at the closing of the 60’s decade. He has won several Grammy Awards and was responsible for such hits as “Quilombo, O El Dorado Negro,” “Aquele Abraço,” and “Andar com Fé.”
3. Joao Gilberto
Joao Gilberto is remembered as one of the greatest Brazilian musicians and guitar players of all time. He was conferred the title of Father of Bossa Nova. With his superb guitar playing style, he has taken bossa nova from its earliest samba roots and developed it into a lively new form.
4. Vinicius de Moraes
Vinicius de Moraes is one of the most creative songwriters Brazil has ever produced. His musical accomplishments have been associated to his long and close partnership with Tom Jobim. He wrote, together with Jobim, the score for the film “Black Orpheus” which won an Academy Award in 1959 for Best Foreign Language Film. Included ii the movie’s soundtrack is “A Felicidade,” one of the best Brazilian songs ever written.
5. Roberto Carlos
Roberto Carlos has sold over 120 million of his albums all over the world and is referred to as the King of Brazilian Music. His music career was launched in the 1970’s and his romantic singing style earned him fans and great popularity all over South America. This legendary best-selling artist was first to sing and record Latin Pop Music.
6. Chico Buarque de Hollanda
Chico Buarque has captured the hearts of the Brazilian people since they heard his first song during the 1960’s. This good-looking and sweet-sounding crooner has penned some of the best lyrics in Brazilian Popular Music (MPB). Many of his most popular songs spoke against the tyranny of the then oppressive Brazilian government. His popular songs include “O que Será,” “Apesar de Você,” “Vai Passar,” and “Roda Viva.”
7. Marisa Monte
For over twenty years, Marisa Monte has remained one of the most durable female singers of Brazil. Her lovely voice and smooth song rendition have given new definition to Brazilian music. Marisa’s style was shaped by samba, bossa nova and Popular Brazilian Music (MPB).
8. Jorge Ben Jor
Jorge Ben was one of the country’s most creative and original music artists. His music was a combination of western music and traditional Latin beat. He possessed a distinctive singing style that sounds like Funk and Samba-Rock. His music made a deep impression on contemporary Brazilian music and inspired many of the country’s musicians. Some of the songs he has written and sung include “Mas Que Nada,” “Filho Maravilha” and “Chove, Chuva.”
9. Elis Regina
Elis Regina contributed a great deal in the biggest musical movements of the 60’s and 70’s decades, and is considered by many as the best voice in Brazilian music history. Her smooth enchanting voice best expressed the Tropicalia wave, , Brazilian Popular Music (MPB) and bossa nova. Her 1974 album with Antonio Carlos Jobim contained the single “Aguas de Marco” which is up to now considered as one of the defining songs of Brazilian music.