Saturday, February 8, 2014


Nara Leão sought the ugly truth in the socially conscious samba of this warm and winsome consolation.  She had begun playing the guitar at the age of twelve and was a part of the birth of bossa nova with many informal jam sessions taking place at her parent's home.  She learned from Solon Ayala, Patrício Teixeira, Roberto Menescal, and Carlos Lyra and played with such luminaries as João Gilberto, Luiz Eça, Ronaldo Bôscoli, Vinicius de Moraes, Antônio Carlos Jobim, and Sérgio Mendes.  Her involvement with the musical movement led to her affectionate nickname of 'the Muse of Bossa Nova'.  After making her stage debut in the musical comedy Pobre Menina Rica, by Vinícius de Moraes and Carlos Lyra, she began her recording career.  While on tour, she was exposed to the more radical elements of the Brazilian popular music movement (Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Gal Costa, and Maria Bethânia) who influenced her turn away from the cool and sophisticated lounge sound toward the more ideological sambas de morro of the slum favelas.  Her debut album  'Nara' was recorded with producer Aloysio de Oliveira with arrangements by Lindolfo Gaya and Moacir Santos. 

Leão expressed at the time:   "Enough bossa nova. Enough of singing little apartment compositions for two or three intellectuals. I want pure samba, which has much more to say for itself, which is the people’s way of expressing themselves, and not something written by some small group for another small group. The story that bossa nova originated in my house is a big lie. Even if the gang did often get together here, they also did so in a thousand other places. I want nothing, and I mean nothing, to do with a musical genre that I don’t feel a part of, and that isn’t even genuine ... Bossa nova is boring, it doesn’t excite me. Perhaps I was an idiot in the past, blindly accepting that square form of music that, even now, people are still trying to pin on me. I’m not the person they’re trying to make me out to be: a little rich girl, who lives on Avenida Atlantica, overlooking the sea ... Bossa nova always has the same basic theme: love-flower-sea-love-flower-sea, and it goes on ad infinitum. It’s very complex. You need to hear it sixty times in order to understand what’s being said. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life singing ‘The Girl from Ipanema,’ much less in English. I want to be understood, I want to be a singer of the people.”

O Morro
Gianfrancesco Guarnieri / Carlos Lyra

O Sol Nascera
Agenor D'Oliveira / Elton Medeiros

Luz Negra
Irani Barros / Nelson Cavaquinho

Vinícius de Moraes / Baden Powell

Maria Moita
Carlos Lyra / Vinícius de Moraes

Moacyr Santos / Mario Telles

full album

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