Elza Soares, the samba singer whose rise from slums to stardom was later overshadowed by a scandalous affair with one of Brazil’s most famous soccer stars, died on Thursday. at her home in Rio de Janeiro. She is 91 years old.
Her death was announced in a statement on her official Instagram account, which adds that she “sung until the end.”
With striking features that have led to comparisons to Eartha Kitt and a raspy voice reminiscent of Louis Armstrong, Ms. Soares became one of the few Black female singers in Brazil to be featured in the show. movie in the 1960s and on television in the ’70s.
Her first album, “Se Acaso VocHey Chegasse” (“If You Happen to Stop By”), released in 1960, introduced sc singing into samba. Her second, “A Bossa Negra” (1961), clearly missing bossa nova. Instead, it featured the samba common in the slums, thus recapturing the African roots of the sound whose international success stemmed from the removal of the samba drum and the addition of complex jazz harmonies. .
As her fame grows, she remains faithful to her roots. “I never left the slums,” she likes to tell reporters, and she often ends the show thanking viewers for “every piece of bread my kids ate.”
Such talks were virtually unheard of in 1960s Brazil, where – despite the vast wealth gap and despite a larger black population than in any other country other than Nigeria – the discussion Being open about issues of poverty and race is still considered impolite.
RCA Records declined her contract offer after learning that she was Black, and she spent years singing in Copacabana nightclubs before being signed to Odeon Records in 1960, where she began a long recording career in a sophisticated – and sometimes not so subtle – way that transcended the boundaries of Brazilian music.
But by the 1980s, she was perhaps better known as the wife of the soccer star known as Mané Garrincha – considered in Brazil second only to Pelé – than in terms of her music. When Garrincha left his wife and eight children to marry Mrs. Soares, it was a national scandal. She was criticized by many people and labeled as a family destroyer. Angry fans threw rocks at their home in Rio and even shot at it.
It wasn’t until the early 2000s, long after her husband’s death, that Mrs. Soares staged an unlikely comeback, welcoming young composers and producers who were just beginning to discover music. hers. Her new songs are even more direct than her earlier ones in addressing social issues, as they openly advocate for the rights of Blacks, gays and especially women.
Elza Gomes da Conceição was born on June 23, 1930 in Padre Miguel favela of Rio de Janeiro. Her mother, Rosária Maria da Conceição, was a laundress; Her father, Avelino Gomes, was a bricklayer who played guitar and enjoyed samba music.
Her father forced her to marry Lourdes Antônio Soares when she was 12 years old; At the age of 21, she was already a widow and mother of five children.
She said it was the need to buy medicine for a sick child that got her the chance to sing on a popular radio talent show at the age of 15. . She was almost laughed offstage until the host, composer Ary Barroso, asked what planet she was from. She disarms him with her reply: “Same planet as you – Hungry Planet.”
Soares said in a 2002 television interview: “At that moment, all the people who were laughing were sitting in their seats and everyone was silent. “I finished singing, and he hugged me and said, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, at this exact moment a star was born.”
Her singing career flourished, leading to film and television appearances. She was one of the few black Brazilian women to rise to stardom at the time.
However, her career was soon overshadowed by a fiery affair with Manuel Francisco dos Santos, better known as Garrincha. Their romance began at the 1962 World Cup in Chile, where she represented Brazil as an entertainer, and where her career could have taken a very different turn: Ms. She also met Louis Armstrong, who invited her to tour the United States with him, but instead chose to follow her heart and return to Brazil with Garrincha. That move would have disastrous consequences.
Highly sought after by the public and the press, the couple were forced to move to São Paulo and eventually to Italy, where they spent four years. They married in 1966.
Mrs. Soares was pregnant with their son, Manoel Francisco dos Santos Júnior, when the couple returned to Brazil in 1975. At the time, Garrincha’s alcoholism was becoming a serious problem. He was driving under the influence of alcohol in 1969 when he was involved in an accident that killed Mrs. Soares’ mother. He hit Miss Soares, who is known for visiting bar owners to beg them not to serve her husband. But her efforts proved futile; Garrincha died of cirrhosis in 1983.
When their son died in a car crash in 1986 at the age of 9, Mrs. Soares was devastated and left for Brazil. She spent several years in Los Angeles, trying in vain to launch an international career.
She credits Brazilian singer-songwriter Caetano Veloso for helping her get back into music when she was ready to give up, by featuring her on his 1984 album, “Velo. ”
But her output was insignificant throughout the 1980s and ’90s, and it wasn’t until 2002 that she regained her footing, connecting with composers and producers from across the world. São Paulo’s samba sujo (“dirty samba”) scene for the album “Do Coccix Até o Pescoço” (“From the Tailbone to the Neck”), nominated for a Latin Grammy.
In 2016, her “A Mulher do Fim do Mundo” (“Woman at the End of the World”) won the Latin Grammy Award for Best Brazilian Popular Album.
Mrs. Soares is survived by her children, Joao Carlos, Gerson, Dilma and Sara, and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Her son Dilson died in 2015.
She continued to find success with young audiences in the new century, working tirelessly into her 90s, exploring musical styles such as electronic dance music, punk rock and free jazz, and recording The album deals with social issues with ease.
Her album title”Planeta Fome” (“Planet Hunger”), released in 2019, deals directly with how her career began on the talent search radio show that will forever change not only her life but also the Brazilian music scene.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/20/arts/music/elza-soares-dead.html Elza Soares, 91 years old, who pushed the boundaries of Brazilian music, passed away