Baden Powell (1937-2000)
A versatile artist, Baden Powell made no distinction between samba and classical music, the influence of African music and candomblé, of jazz and the bossa nova, thereby tearing apart the border between the popular and the erudite. After studying classical guitar for many years, Baden developed a unique style of playing, combining virtuous elements with the swing and harmony of Brazilian popular music (MPB), exploring the limits of the instrument to the full. Recognised throughout the world, Baden cut more than 40 records abroad.
In 1967, when he won a Golden Disc in Paris, Vinícius de Moraes, in a letter to Antônio Carlos “Tom” Jobim, wrote: “Baden has conquered Europe”.
Baden was born in the hamlet of Varre-e-Sai, in upstate Rio de Janeiro. His father, Lino de Aquino, was an enthusiast of the Scout movement and therefore gave his son the name of the Englishman who founded the Scout Movement. Baden grew up in the Rio de Janeiro neighbourhood of São Cristóvão listening to his guitarist father play. As a very small boy, he could already play his own guitar, influenced by Dilermando Reis and Garoto.
At the age of 13, Baden Powell made a living by playing at dances with a guitar, and played truant from school to play the guitar with his friends on the Mangueira Hill. When he was 15, he had the first contact with samba composers and went to work at the Rádio Nacional radio station. One of the most important steps he made in his career that was then starting was his entrance into the trio of pianist Ed Lincoln, playing jazz at the Plaza de Copacabana nightclub.
In the 1950s, Baden already composed songs such as the Sad Samba (Samba Triste), in partnership with Billy Blanco. In 1962, he met Vinícius who would be his partner in such classics as Ozark Harp (Berimbau), Samba in Prelude (Samba em Prelúdio), the Blessing’s Samba (Samba da Bênção) and also a series of Afro-Sambas, such as The Chant of Xangô (Canto de Xangô), Chant of Ossanha (Canto de Ossanha) and Bocoxê. At this time, Baden started to become famous in France and Germany, where he played on several occasions.
Back to Brazil, he set up a partnership with Paulo César Pinheiro, with whom he composed the Samba of Forgiveness (Samba do Perdão), Quaquaraquaquá, and Notice to Sailors (Aviso aos Navegantes) - all recorded by Elis Regina, Sermon (Sermão) and Lapinha, which won the 1st Biennial Samba Festival in 1969. In the early 1990s, Baden Powell spent four years in Germany. In 1994 he launched the record Baden Powell from Rio to Paris.
In July of that same year, he gave a show in the Cecília Meireles Room, alongside his sons Louis Marcel Powell, violinist, and Phillipe Baden Powell, a pianist and keyboard player, both of whom were born in France. One of the best instrument players in the world and also one of the most important composers of Brazilian Popular Music, Baden Powell was, and always shall be, part of our History.
Book 100 Brasileiros(2004)