Elza Soares in 2010
|Also known as||Tina Turner brasileira (Brazilian Tina Turner)|
June 23, 1937 |
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
|Genres||Samba, MPB, bossa nova|
In 1999, she was elected by the BBC Radio as the Brazilian singer of the millennium. This competition was originated in a project called The Millennium Concerts, by the British Broadcasting Company, to celebrate the arrival of the year 2000. She was married to Brazilian football player Garrincha.
Elza Soares's father, Gomes Soares, was a factory worker and guitar player, and her mother Rosária Maria Gomes was a washerwoman. She was born in the Moça Bonita, a favela in the Padre Miguel neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro.
During her childhood, Soares used to play on the streets, fly kites, play with wooden spinning tops, and even fight with the boys. She led a poor but happy childhood, in spite having to work carrying water buckets on her head. When she was 12 years-old her father forced her marry Lourdes Antônio Soares, also known as Alaúrdes, and about a year later she gave birth to her first child, João Carlos.
Because of her desire to sing and because she needed to buy medicine for her new born, at 13 years-old Soares took part in a live singing contest presented by the renowned Brazilian musician Ary Barroso at the biggest radio station in Brazil at the time, Rádio Tupi. At first Soares was not taken seriously, but her humble manners and dress prompted Barroso to ironically ask her "What planet are you from?," to which she replied, "The same planet as you, sir." "And may I know what planet that is?," "Planet Hunger," was her reply. Barroso's mockery did not seem to affect Soares, who sang and showed all of her potential. She received money for participating in the show and was able to buy medicine for her son.
When Soares was 15 years old her second child died. Her husband became ill with tuberculosis, and Soares began working in a soap factory, "Véritas," in the Engenho de Dentro neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro. At 21 she became a widow, and alone she raised her children; four boys and one girl. Soares continued to dream of becoming a singer.
When Soares was 32 years-old she met and began a relationship with soccer player Garrincha. Soares was vilified by Brazilian society, with many accusing the singer of causing the breakdown of Garrincha's marriage. She was shouted at in the street, received death threats, and her house was pelted with eggs and tomatoes.
On April 13, 1969 Soares suffered another loss: Rosária Maria Gomes, Soares's mother, died in a car accident. Garrincha, Soares and her daughter Sara were also injured in this accident. Garrincha was drunk driving on Presidente Dutra highway when a truck was merging into the lane. Everyone in the car was hurt, and Dona Rosário was thrown from the vehicle and died.
Soares and Garrincha were married for 16 years (1968-1982). Garrincha's friends did not accept Soares as his wife, instead calling her a "witch." Soares tried to curb her husband's dependence on alcohol by visiting bars, pleading with them not to serve her husband.
The couple had one child, a boy, born in 1976. He was named after his father, Manuel Francisco dos Santos, and received the nickname Garrincha Jr.
In 1983 Garrincha died of cirrhosis, which devastated Soares, even though they were already separated. On January 11, 1986, there was another tragedy in her life. Her son died when he was 9 years old in a car accident as he was coming back from visiting his father's hometown, Magé. It had been raining and the driver lost control of the vehicle. The door opened and the boy was thrown into the Imbariê river. Soares was desolate and considered ending her own life. She left Brazil, and toured around Europe and the United States.
After many years of searching for her long lost daughter, they were finally reunited upon Soares' return to Brazil.
On July 26, 2015 Soares lost her fifth son, Gerson, when he was 59 years old. He died of complications of a urinary tract infection.
Soares had six children: João Carlos, Gerson, Gilson, Dilma, Sara and Garrinchinha.
The beginning of Elza Soares's singing career was when she performed in the talent show hosted by Ary Barroso.
Soares became popular with the songs Se Acaso Você Chegasse, her first single, Mas Que Nada, A Carne, and other well-known samba songs. She was nominated to the GRAMMY Awards and was elected by the BBC London as "the singer of the millennium." In 2007, Soares was invited to sing a cappella the Brazilian National Anthem at the opening ceremony of the 2007 Panamerican Games. In 2016, she performed at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, where she sang O Canto de Ossanha, a classic by Baden Powell and Vinícius de Moraes.
Her latest album is titled "A Mulher do Fim do Mundo" and was released in 2015. It is in the electronic samba genre and was praised by critics as one of the best MPB albums of the past years. She got the award for Best Album in the pop/rock/reggae/hip-hop/funk. This album is also nominated for Best Album of Brazilian Popular Music and Best Song in Portuguese at the 17th edition of the Latin Grammy Awards.
In the late 1950s, Soares spent one year touring Argentina with Mercedes Batista. Soares became popular with her first single "Se Acaso Você Chegasse", on which she introduced the scat à la Louis Armstrong, adding a bit of jazz to samba. She moved to São Paulo, where she performed at theaters and night clubs. Her husky voice became her trademark. After finishing her second album, "A Bossa Negra," Elza went to Chile to represent Brazil in the 1962 Football World Cup, where she met with Louis Armstrong personally. Her outgoing and over-the-edge style fascinated audiences in Brazil and abroad.
From 1967 to 1969, Soares recorded three albums with the Brazilian record label "Odeon," partnering with singer Miltinho. The albums were titled "Elza, Miltinho e Samba (Volumes 1-3)." The songs in these albums were mostly in the potpourri style with duets that were enjoyed by the critics and fans alike. The albums were produced by Milton Miranda and Hermínio Bello de Carvalho, and they were later re-launched as CDs in 2003 by EMI-Odeon.
In the 1970s, she toured the U.S. and Europe. She has been singing for more than 40 years. In 2000, she was awarded "Best Singer of the Millennium" by the BBC in London, where she performed in a concert with Gal Costa, Chico Buarque, Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso and Virgínia Rodrigues. That same year, she played a series of avant-garde concerts directed by José Miguel Wisnik in Rio de Janeiro.
Soares scored a number of charts hits in Brazil throughout her career; some of the bigger hits include: "Se Acaso Você Chegasse" (1960), "Boato" (1961), "Cadeira Vazia" (1961), "Só Danço Samba" (1963), "Mulata Assanhada" (1965) and "Aquarela Brasileira" (1974).
A number of Soares's albums have also been re-released on CD in remastered editions: 1961's A Bossa Negra (containing her major hit of that year, "Boato") and 1972's big band backed Elza Pede Passagem (produced by Dom Salvador) being two of her most acclaimed releases. Elza Pede Passagem produced no major hit singles of the size of previous releases when originally released in Brazil; nevertheless, it is now considered a classic and representative of the "samba-soul" sound of the early 70s.
In 2002, her Do Cóccix Até O Pescoço album release earned her a Grammy nomination. The album received outstanding reviews in the music press and featured a who's who of Brazilian artists collaborating with her; Caetano Veloso, Chico Buarque, Carlinhos Brown and Jorge Ben Jor to name just a few. The release kickstarted a number of successful tour dates around the world. Two singles from the album were also promoted to Brazilian radio, "A Cigarra" and "Bambino", both were backed by promotional videos.
In 2004, Soares released her Vivo Feliz album to great acclaim. It contained the single, "Rio de Janeiro", a homage to her city of birth. While not as successful in sales as her previous release, the album carried on the theme of mixing samba and bossa with modern electronic music and effects. The album featured collaborations with groundbreaking artists such as Nando Reis, Fred 04 (former leader of mangue beat band Mundo Livre S/A) and Zé Keti.
More recently, Soares teamed up with Jair Rodrigues and a number of contemporary samba artists such as Seu Jorge for the old school flavoured Sambistas multi artist album which was released in 2009. In 2016, A Mulher do Fim do Mundo was released internationally with the translated title Woman At The End Of The World. She also had the honour of performing at the opening ceremony of the 2016 Rio Olympics.
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