Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music
(b 26 October 1942, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) Singer, songwriter; also played accordion, bass, guitar, piano; his sweet beautiful voice as well as his songs have made him one of the best-loved artists in a country that is mad about music. His mother was a servant; when she died he was adopted by the family she worked for, and grew up in a rural town in Minas Gerais, the only black member of the family. Influences were as diverse as classical music, Yma Sumac and Ray Charles; he formed a band with keyboardist/arranger Wagner Tiso when they were teenagers; they tried to play everything. Bossa nova was a shock; they copied songs off the radio and created their own versions of what they heard. He moved to the state capital Belo Horizonte '63, hung out with jazz musicians, then heard the Beatles; he spent two years in São Paulo, where he met Elis Regina, who recorded one of his songs, then to Rio, where he was befriended by Eumir Deodato, who arranged songs for an International Song Festival '67: 'Travessia' won second prize (later known as 'Bridges', English lyrics by Gene Lees); Nascimento was named best performer and made his first album that year. His second, Courage, was made for A&M with Deodato, Herbie Hancock, Airto (Moreira) and others, produced by Creed Taylor, with six songs from the first album; there have now been over two dozen albums on several labels.
He delved deeply into Brazilian regional musics, and his growing fame helped the careers of Dori Caymmi, Nan Vasconcelos and others; after an early album was called Clube da Esquina ('Corner Club'), the Brazilian media referred to him and collaborators as the Club. (Clube da Esquinho 2 came out '78; these classics were combined on a CD on EMI's Hemisphere label '96.) His songs have been used in films and recorded by such artists as Paul Desmond and Wayne Shorter (Native Dancer '74 on Columbia; Nascimento also sang). He guested on albums by Paul Simon (Rhythm Of The Saints '90), Manhattan Transfer (Brasil '87) and Sarah Vaughan (her Brazilian Romance '87 was arranged by Caymmi). Nascimento's Sentinela '80 on Verve featured guest vocalist Nana Caymmi; Missa dos Quilombos '82 had political overtones and a sermon by the archbishop of Recife, and was banned by the Vatican (after one of his earlier albums had most of the lyrics banned by a Brazilian government). Anima '82 featured the Mineiro group Uakti (who play invented instruments), a rock guitar and guests such as Caetano Veloso; A Barca dos Amantes ('Ship Of Lovers') '87 included Shorter; all these were on Verve. Encontros e Despedidas '86 ('Meetings And Farewells') on Polydor features Pat Metheny and Hubert Laws.Yauaretê '87 was produced by Quincy Jones with guests Simon, Hancock, Shorter, Uakti and others; Miltons '88 and Grammy-nominated Txai '90 were on CBS/Columbia. Angelus '94 on WB included a duet with James Taylor on 'Only A Dream In Rio'.