Elis Regina (1945-1982)
Elis was the first person to have her voice registered as an instrument, at the Brazilian Order of Musicians. And this decision was quite right. It was a very well tuned instrument, which combined the technique and the charisma as well as the emotions that she brought out in each song.
Considered by many as the best Brazilian singer of all times, Pimentinha brought out works by great composers, such as João Bosco and Aldir Blanc. A perfectionist, she demanded a lot of her musicians, of her band, of her recording company, of her voice. The real winners, however, were the audience. Elis would get involved in radical fashion in everything she did, in music and also in general life. She was born in Porto Alegre (RS) and at the age of 11 was already singing on the fixed cast of the Rádio Farroupilha radio station.
In 1959 she signed her first contract as a professional, at Rádio Gaúcha, and then, the following year, went to Rio de Janeiro where she recorded her first single record, on the Continental label. This same recording studio would bring out her first LP, Viva Girl-Land (Viva a Brotolândia), a mixture of rock songs and calypsos, in 1961.
She returned to Rio for good in 1964 when she started to really become famous. She sang in the Bottles Alley (Beco das Garrafas), a stronghold of the bossa nova, where she learnt, with American ballet dancer Lennie Dale, a choreography that earned her the nickname of Propeller Regina (Hélice Regina).
Hired by TV Rio, she started working with Jorge Ben and Wilson Simonal. In 1965, her career really took off when she won the 1st Brazilian Popular Music Festival on TV Excelsior, singing Sweeping Away (Arrastão), by Edu Lobo and Vinícius de Moraes. The record Two in the Bossa (Dois Na Bossa) with Jair Rodrigues was so successful that in the following years volumes 2 and 3 were brought out.
Together with Jair, Elis presented one of the most important programmes of Brazilian music, The Finest of the Bossa (O Fino da Bossa), on TV Record, on which there was the launch of hits such as Chant of Ossanha (Canto de Ossanha), by Vinicius and Baden Powell, and Worshipping (Louvação), by Gilberto Gil and Torquato Neto. Her career really got off the ground in 1966, when she brought out the record Elis, with songs composed by the then-unknown Milton Nascimento, Ivan Lins, Zé Rodrix and Belchior.
Of a restless temperament, she participated just as enthusiastically in political movements and festivals, fighting for the preservation of the roots of Brazilian pop music against the foreign invasion. Her show The False Diamond (Falso Brilhante) became a landmark of music and also of the Brazilian scene. This took her voice, her soul and Brazilian pop music to the most important venues of the world. She recorded Elis and Tom (with Antônio Carlos “Tom” Jobim) in the United States. In 1979 she went to the Jazz Festival in Montreux, Switzerland, where she recorded the song The Drunkard and the Equilibrist (O Bêbado e a Equilibrista), the song which Brazil chose to ask for the country’s exiled people to return. Her sudden death, in 1982, cut short a shining career and left a void that would never be filled.
Book 100 Brasileiros(2004)