Caetano Veloso

Caetano Veloso
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Caetano Emanuel Viana Telles Veloso (born August 7, 1942), better known as Caetano 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 seven children born into the family of José Telles Velloso (Seu Zeca), a government official, and Claudionor Viana Telles Veloso (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.

Biography

Early years (1942–69)

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.

In 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’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 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 “Carioca” (music by Vincent Youmans and lyrics by Edward Eliscu and Gus Kahn), “Always” (music and lyrics by Irving Berlin), “Manhattan” (music by Richard Rodgers and 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.

Veloso has contributed songs to two AIDS benefit compilation albums produced by the Red Hot Organization: Red Hot + Rio (1996) and Onda Sonora: Red Hot + Lisbon (1998).

In 2011, he again contributed two songs to the Red Hot Organization‘s most recent compilation album, Red Hot + Rio 2. The two tracks include a remix of “Terra” by Prefuse 73 (“3 Mellotrons in a Quiet Room Version”) and “Dreamworld: Marco de Canaveses”, in collaboration with David Byrne.

His September 2006 album, , 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 nine Latin Grammy Awards and two Grammy Awards, Veloso has received more than any other Brazilian performer. On November 14, 2012, Veloso was also honored as the Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year.

Veloso has been called “one of the greatest songwriters of the century” and “a pop musician/poet/filmmaker/political activist whose stature in the pantheon of international pop musicians is on a par with that of Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, and Lennon/McCartney“.

External links

Artist information provided by WikiMedia

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