Maria Bethânia Vianna Telles Veloso (born 18 June 1946 in Santo Amaro da Purificação, Bahia Brazil), better known as Maria Bethânia (Portuguese pronunciation: [maˈɾiɐ beˈtɐ̃niɐ]), is a singer and sister of Caetano Veloso. She started her career in Rio de Janeiro in 1964 with the show "Opinião" ("Opinion"). Due to its popularity, and the popularity of her 1965 single "Carcará", the singer became a star in Brazil, with performances all over the country.
The singer has released 50 studio albums in 47 years of career, and is among the 10 best-selling music artists in Brazil, having sold more than 26 million records.
Bethânia 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. In her childhood, she had aspirations to become an actress. However, her mother was a musician, so music was prevalent in the Veloso household. Though Bethânia was born in Santo Amaro da Purifição, her family moved to Salvador, Bahia when she was 13 years old. The move allowed her to experience the bohemian, intellectual circles of the city as well as to visit theaters. When she was 16, her brother Caetano Veloso invited her to sing in a film for which he was producing the soundtrack, but she refused. However, the film's director, Álvaro Guimarães, liked her voice and invited the young musician to perform in a 1963 performance of a Nélson Rodrigues musical. She began performing again with her brother, as well as Gilberto Gil, Gal Costa, and Tom Zé, at the opening of the Vila Velha Theater in the next year. During one of these performances, the bossa nova musician Nara Leão offered her an opportunity to take her place in a series of performances titled "Opinião". She released her first single, a protest song named "Carcará", in 1965, the same year as her brother released his first recording.
After releasing "Carcará" Bethânia returned from Rio de Janeiro, where she had gone to attend college, to Bahia. This was to only be a brief visit, as around that time she was performing at nightclubs and other venues throughout Brazil. This song also got her an offer from an RCA Records representative to record for the company. However Bethânia continually changed record labels throughout the 1970s. In 1973 Bethânia released Drama, Luz Da Noite, in which she performed traditional Brazilian songs, as well as incorporating literary elements. In 1977 Bethânia went on tour and released a gold-certified album, both with the name ofPássaro da Manhã. She released Álibi a year later which was also gold-certified with over a million copies sold. Around the end of the 1970s, Bethânia became more artistically conservative, moving away from the Tropicalismo music her frequent collaborators, including Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil, had been playing.During the 1980s and '90s Bethânia continued to record and perform, with 1993's As Canções Que Você Fez Para Mim becoming the year's most successful album in Brazil.
In 2005, Música Popular Brasileira supergroup of the same name. It was recorded June 24 of that year at Anhembi Stadium in São Paulo. Its members wereGilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso, Maria Bethânia and Gal Costa, four of the biggest names in the history of the Music of Brazil. The band was the subject of a 1977 documentary directed by Jom Tob Azulay. In 1994, they performed a tribute concert to Mangueira school of samba.
The singer, considered one of the greats in Brazilian music and who has a track record of working with poets and reading bits of her favorite poetry, would use the platform to interpret poetry,both of her own and from other authors, in song through a daily series of videos, 365 in total, for the blog O Mundo Precisa de Poesia (English: The World Needs Poetry).
Much of the criticisms surrounds on the project's cost and the fact that a rich and well-known artist like Bethânia can rely on such a process to get sponsored, while hundreds of other minor artists cannot find ways to survive. Pablo Villaça, from the blog Cinema em Cena (Movie Theater at Home) estimated that, taking out the amount that would go to the collectors, around R$ 1.17 million would go toward the blog's production. Each video, then, would cost about R$ 3,200. He stated that this cost would not be compatible with videos of 3–5 minutes length consisting of just one person reciting poetry.
Blogger, journalist and filmmaker Mauricio Caleiro explained that this process, appropriated by the interests of big names and governed by the market, has suffered from great distortions over the years, favoring respected names over beginners, according to him:
"(…) the imbroglio involving the baiana singer revealed the problems of the “Rouanet Law”, a tool that, shortly after being created, played a key role in the survival of certain artistic areas during the neoliberal autumn, but as the episode in question shows, it eventually lead to serious distortions in relations between economy, ideology and cultural production."
To mock the whole situation, a satirical blog entitled Bethania: 1 million reasons for you to access was created by blogger Raphael Quatroci.
On March 16, the Ministry of Culture released a statement affirming the legality of the process and reiterating that the approval had strictly followed the rules. It said that "the criteria in the CNIC (National Commission on Cultural Incentives) are technical and legal, so to reject an applicant because she/he is famous, or not, would set up obvious and untenable discrimination."
Eventually, on September 20, 2011, the singer made a public annoucement stating that she had quit developing her poetry blog, due to her project of lauching a new CD with unreleased songs.
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