Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music
(b 7 August 1942, Santo Amaro da Purificação, Bahia, Brazil) Singer-songwriter much loved in Brazil, finally becoming an international star. He lived in Salvador '60-5, then Rio, his early appearances from '64 closely linked with his sister Maria Bethânia and fellow Bahians singer/composer Gilberto Gil and singer Gal Costa. He and Gil allegedly parodied the national anthem in a night club '68; arrested and imprisoned, they subsequently spent 18 months in voluntary exile in London. They launched a musical movement called tropicalism, which is hard to define: it rejects adherence to any single musical form (notably bossa nova) and urges openness to all influences, whether Brazilian or foreign; but his public remained largely Brazilian. He is a controversial, outspoken personality who courts publicity, and a prolific songwriter, usually of both words and music, the former often obscure. His gentle, carressing vocal delivery was much inflenced initially by João Gilberto. Best-known songs incl. 'Alegria, Alegria' (his breakthrough song in '68) and 'Tropic lia'. Many albums include Uns '83, Totalmente Demais ('Totally Too Much') '86 and Caetano '87, all on Verve, and Estrangeiro ('Foreigner') '89 on Elektra. There are also live concert recordings with Chico Buarque '72 and Maria Bethânia '78, and many guest appearances on others' albums.