Elis Regina

Fondly nicknamed 'Furacao' (hurricane) and 'Pimentinha' (little pepper), Elis Regina is widely regarded as one of Brazil's greatest ever singers and a profound influence on Brazilian singers who followed. Yet she came from the humblest of beginnings, growing up in a poor family at Porto Alegre in the south of Brazil where her love of music was established at an early age through listening to the radio and learning songs both in Spanish and Portuguese. Taking piano lessons from the age of nine, she made her public debut on local radio show 'Clube do Guri', winning first prize in a competition and going on to sing on the show every Sunday to become something of a local celebrity. At the age of 15 she recorded her first LP in Rio, 'Viva a Brotolândia', and went on to land a contract to sing on a Rio TV station where her dynamic singing style and feisty personality was in marked contrast to the coolness of the bossa nova style becoming popular at the time. Her fame spread further in 1965 when she won first prize in a festival song contest with a passionate performance of 'Arrastão', which went on to become a major hit single and established her reputation as the queen of Brazilian song and the country's highest-paid singer. Her second LP 'Dois na Bossa' was the first Brazilian record to sell over a million copies and she was seen as the pioneer of MPB (música popular Brasileira) blending samba and bossa nova. Her later work embraced the tropicalismo movement incorporating the music of Gal Costa, Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil and in 1974 she collaborated with Antonio Carlos Jobim on the 'Elis & Tom' album, still regarded as one of the most important in Brazilian music history. With her cropped hair and a famously explosive temperament exacerbated by extreme stage fright, she was outspoken and unpredictable, upsetting Brazil's ruling dictatorship when she said in a press conference that her country was being run by "gorillas" and was threatened with prison time. Ultimately she was forced to sing the Brazilian national anthem at an independence ceremony to appease the authorities. Despite her success, she had an unhappy private life, suffering two divorces and turning to drink and drugs. She died in 1982 at the age of 36 from an overdose of cocaine and alcohol.

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Stations Featuring Elis Regina

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