“I came from the hungry planet”. the answer of Elza Soares a And Barroso on her radio show in 1953, the first time she performed live, is one of the most remembered moments in the singer’s career, who died this Thursday (20), at the age of 91.
This business card already showed the provocative and fearless tone, which marked the entire trajectory of this artist from Rio, who became famous not only for her powerful voice, but also for her posture.
That day, on Rádio Tupi, Elza performed and amended an interpretation of the song “Lama”, by Paulo Marques and Aylce Chaves: “If you want to smoke, I smoke / if you want to drink, I drink”, chanted the verses, which would become striking.
Elza crossed the 20th century experimenting her music with genres such as samba and jazz, and arrived in the 2000s with a renewed disposition, collaborating with young artists and proposing a contemporary discourse.
In homage to the trajectory of Elza Soares, who followed the history of Brazilian music for almost a century, CNN highlights some important songs and moments:
If You Came (1960)
On her first album, Elza still indulged in the more traditional samba, but she gave her own unique touch to the songs. The theme song for “Se Acaso Você Chegasse” is a composition by Lupicínio Rodrigues, whose vocals are inspired by jazz and soul, reminiscent of the scat singing of names like Louis Armstrong.
I Am the Other (1965)
When singing Ricardo Galeno’s samba, a hymn about marital infidelity, Elza ironically commented on her own relationship with football player Garrincha. The love affair, one of the most famous in the country at the time, began in 1962, when the star was still married.
The samba already had versions by Linda Rodrigues and Angela Maria when it was chosen by Elza for her first performance – and it never left her repertoire. In this 1973 version, sung on the Sambão program, presented by Elizeth Cardoso on TV Record, Elza has a dramatic interpretation, which emphasizes the power of her voice.
In the late 1970s, Elza released the song, also helping to popularize the hitherto unknown composer Jorge Aragon. The samba became one of the singer’s most remembered acts, and goes back to her origins in popular music.
Elza has always been considered a precursor by the most important generations of Brazilian music; and with Tropicália it was no different. In this song, Caetano Veloso makes the reverence explicit, inviting the singer to a duet – and rescuing her from a brief period of ostracism, caused by depression.
The partnership with Cazuza yielded one of Elza’s most remarkable forays into rock. The singer reinvented herself in the decade, drinking from influences from the music scene that were on the rise. The combativeness was the same as always, however, with the lyrics of the carioca composer suggesting a critique of the violence of the period.
My Boy (1997)
The song by Chico Buarque, featured on the album “Trajetória”, echoes a personal tragedy by Elza. In 1986, his son Manoel Francisco dos Santos Júnior, known as Garrinchinha, died in a traffic accident at the age of 9. “When your boy was born, my child was not the time for it to burst”, sing the opening lines.
The single is the most famous song from “Do Cóccix até o Pescoço”, an album produced by José Miguel Wisnik, who introduced Elza to the 21st century. With a bolder sound, including hip-hop, the album renewed the artist’s work. In “A Carne”, the social concern is always the same, however. The song became famous for the verses “The cheapest meat on the market is black meat / which goes free to the prison and under the plastic”.
The Woman at the End of the World (2015)
In 2015, Elza released “A Mulher do Fim do Mundo”, an album that won over a whole new audience for the singer. Produced by Guilherme Kastrup and featuring composers with prominent names from the alternative scene such as Kiko Dinucci and Rômulo Fróes, the album led Elza to sing about themes such as domestic violence and urban violence, about a more experimental sound, ranging from samba to rock. “I’ll sing until the end”, chanted in the chorus of the title song.
General Behavior (2019)
In her latest album, “Planeta Fome”, Elza returned to the origins of her career, musically remaking her response to Ary Barroso. The album continues the artist’s contemporary partnerships, and doubles down on social and political criticism. In “Comportamento Geral”, the song composed by Gonzaguinha in 1973, gains new meanings when sung in Brazil today.
Reference: CNN Brasil