Caetano Emanuel Viana Teles Veloso (Portuguese pronunciation: [kaeˈtɐ̃nu emanuˈɛw viˈɐ̃nɐ ˈtɛlis veˈlozu]; born August 7, 1942), better known asCaetano Veloso, is a Brazilian composer, singer, guitarist, writer, and political activist. Veloso first became known for his participation in the Brazilian musical movement Tropicalismo, which encompassed theatre, poetry and music in the 1960s, at the beginning of the Brazilian military dictatorship. He has remained a constant creative influence and best-selling performing artist and composer ever since. Veloso has won nine Latin Grammy Awards and two Grammy Awards. On November 14, 2012, Veloso was honored as the Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year.
Veloso was one of eight children born into the family of José Teles Velloso (Seu Zeca), a government official, and Claudionor Viana Teles Velloso (Dona Canô), a housewife. He was born in the city of Santo Amaro da Purificação, in Bahia, a state in the northeastern area of Brazil, but moved to Salvador, the state capital, as a college student in the mid-1960s. Soon after the move, Veloso won a music contest and was signed to his first label. He became one of the founders of Tropicalismo with a group of several other musicians and artists—including his sister Maria Bethânia—in the same period. However the Brazilian government at the time viewed Veloso's music and political action as threatening, and he was arrested, along with fellow musician Gilberto Gil, in 1969. The two eventually were exiled from Brazil, and went to London, where they lived for two years. After he moved back to his home country, in 1972, Veloso once again began recording and performing, becoming popular outside of Brazil in the 1980s and 1990s.
Early years (1942–1969)
Veloso was born in Santo Amaro da Purificação, Bahia, the fifth of seven children of José Teles Veloso (1901–1983) and Claudionor Viana Teles Veloso (1907–2012). His childhood was influenced greatly by artistic endeavors: he was interested in both literature and filmmaking as a child, but focused mainly on music. The musical style of bossa nova and João Gilberto, one of its most prominent exponents, were major influences on Veloso's music as he grew up. Veloso first heard Gilberto at 17 years old, and describes the musician as his "supreme master." He recognizes Gilberto's contribution to Brazilian music as new—"illuminating" the tradition of Brazilian music and paving the way for future innovation. Veloso moved to the Bahian port city of Salvador as a teenager, the city in which Gilberto lived and a center of Afro-Brazilian culture and music.
1n 1965 he moved again to Rio de Janeiro, with his sister Maria Bethânia, also a musician. Shortly after the move, Veloso won a lyrics contest for his composition "Um Dia" and was signed to Philips Records. Beginning in 1967, with collaborators including Bethânia, Gilberto Gil, Gal Costa, Tom Zé, and Os Mutantes, Veloso developed Tropicalismo, which fused Brazilian pop with rock and roll and avant-garde music. Veloso describes the movement as a wish to be different—not "defensive" like the right-wing Brazilian military government, which vehemently opposed the movement. Leftist college students also condemned Tropicalismo because they believed it commercialized Brazilian traditional music by incorporating musical influence from other cultures, specifically the United States. Even though Tropicalismo was controversial among traditional critics, it introduced to Música Popular Brasileira new elements for making music with an eclectic style.
Veloso studied philosophy at the Universidade Federal da Bahia, which influenced both his artistic expression and viewpoint on life. Two of his favorite philosophers were Jean-Paul Sartre and Martin Heidegger. Veloso's leftist political stance earned him the enmity of Brazil's military dictatorship which ruled until 1985; his songs were frequently censored and some banned. Veloso and Gil spent several months in prison in 1969 and then were sent into exile. He said that "they didn't imprison us for any song or any particular thing that we said," ascribing the government's reaction to its unfamiliarity with the cultural phenomenon of Tropicália—they seemed to say "We might as well put them in prison." The federal police detained the two and flew them to an unknown destination. Finally, Veloso and Gil lived out their exile in London, England. When Caetano was asked about his experience there he says, "London felt dark, and I felt far away from myself." Nevertheless, the two improved their music there and were asked to make a musical production with the producer Ralph Mace.
Musical career (1972–present)
Veloso performs in Lisbon, Portugal in 2007
Veloso's work upon his return in 1972 was often characterized by frequent merging not only of international styles but of Brazilian folkloric styles and rhythms as well. His popularity grew outside Brazil in the 1980s, especially in Israel, Greece, Portugal, France, and Africa. His records released in the United States, such as O Estrangeiro, helped gain him a larger audience.
To celebrate 25 years of Tropicalismo, Veloso and Gilberto Gil released a CD called Tropicalia 2 in 1993. One song, "Haiti", attracted people's attention during the time, especially because it included powerful statements about sociopolitical issues present in Haiti and also in Brazil. Issues addressed in the song included ethnicity,poverty, homelessness, and capital corruption in the AIDS pandemic. By 2004, he was one of the most respected and prolific international pop stars, with more than 50 recordings available including songs in film soundtracks of Michelangelo Antonioni's Eros, Pedro Almodóvar's Hable con ella, and Frida, for which he performed at the 75th Academy Awards but did not win. In 2002 Veloso published an account of his early years and the Tropicalismo movement, Tropical Truth: A Story of Music and Revolution in Brazil.
His first all-English CD was A Foreign Sound (2004), which covers Nirvana's "Come as You Are" and compositions from the Great American Songbook such as "The Carioca" (music by Vincent Youmans and lyrics by Edward Eliscu and Gus Kahn), "Always" (music and lyrics by Irving Berlin), "Manhattan" (music by Richard Rodgersand lyrics by Lorenz Hart), "Love for Sale" (music and lyrics by Cole Porter), and "Something Good" (music and lyrics by Richard Rodgers). Six of the seven songs on his third eponymous album, released in 1971, were also in English.
His September 2006 album, Cê, was released by Nonesuch Records in the United States. It won two Latin Grammy Awards, one for best singer-songwriter and one for Best Portuguese Song, "Não Me Arrependo". With a total of five Latin Grammys, Veloso has received more than any other Brazilian performer.
Veloso married fellow Baiana and actress Andrea Gadelha (or Dedé) on November 21, 1967 in a ceremony that reflected the air of the counterculture era. Their son Moreno was born November 22, 1972. On December 13, 1983 their daughter Júlia was born. She died a few days later. Veloso’s father died on December 13, 1983. Veloso separated from Dedé Veloso in 1983. In 1986 Veloso married Rio native Paula Lavigne, with whom he had two more sons, Zeca Lavigne Veloso, born March 7, 1992, and Tom Lavigne Veloso, born January 25, 1997 in Salvador. This marriage lasted twenty years. Although separated since 2004, the two still work together. Veloso’s 1989 CD “Estrangeiro” includes songs (“Esse Amor, which means "This Love” and “Branquinha”) inspired by and dedicated to, respectively, his ex-wife Dedé and his wife at the time, Paula Lavigne.
Veloso's home, Bahia, has had a decisive role in his music. He praises Bahia for its importance in Brazil's colonial period—when the Portuguese first came—as well as for Bahia's contribution to Brazilian music. He has cited among his musical influences Amália Rodrigues, Cole Porter, the Rolling Stones 1969 tour, and above all, João Gilberto.
Veloso says that he is unable to make a comparison between his musical style in the 1960s, at the height of Tropicália, and his current work. He does note, however, that he has been able to accomplish music of a higher quality later in his career; that he is "better at everything."
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