Brazilian Music Series – Powerful Women Singers

On my last post about Brazilian music in which I talked about a very special beat, Chorinho, I mentioned the need to go a bit beyond of what is stereotyped about Brazil all over the world. Yes, of course Samba is huge, and I just love it. It is part of our tradition and it goes in most Brazilians’ veins. However, our musical scenario is such a rich encounter of rhythms, sounds and voices that it wouldn’t be fair to insist on just one type of music.

Vanessa da Matta

So, I dedicate this post to the women in my country who inspire, empower, allure and make us proud. To those who are tremendously talented and represent our most voracious, enchanting voices. Those women whose stories and musical paths are unique, but they share their passion for every word they sing and pronounce. Our language, Portuguese, becomes pure poetry or a cry for justice in the mouths of these powerful women.

Just like samba, it wouldn’t be fair if I only talked about those singers that I really enjoy, for music is multifaceted and different people will certainly have multiple perspective and a diverse playlist. So, I asked my friends to give me a hand. I introduce you to a varied playlist based on the suggestion of unique, wonderful women that listen to the greatest talents we have in our country.

All of my friends’ playlists are totally worth checking.

Gabriela, a dear friend, has the following suggestions:

photo of gabriela

Marisa Monte – “Bem que se quis”
Vanessa da Mata – “Ainda Bem”
Adriana Calcanhoto – “Naquela Estação”
Cássia Eller – “Palavras Ao Vento”
Elis Regina – “Andança”
Ana Carolina – “Pra Rua Me Levar”

Margarete, who has a special talent for syntax, shares her passions:

Leila Pinheiro performing “Vento no Litoral”
Zizi Possi performing “Corsário”
Nana Caymi performing “Resposta ao Tempo”
Jane Duboc performing “As Criaturas da Noite”
Veronica Sabino performing “Todo Sentimento”
Leila Pinheiro performing “Serra do Luar”

Alba, a very intense woman and friend tells us about her own preferences:

Elis Regina – “Como Nossos Pais”
Elis Regina – “O Bêbado e o Equilibrista”
Elis Regina – “Quero”
Gal Costa – “Força Estranha”
Marisa Monte – “Maria de Verdade”
Elis Regina – “Tatuagem”

Another dear friend, Margarete, music lover and enthusiast has shared her favorite Brazilian women singers, saying that these are all wonderful women with powerful voices.

The ones that have appeared in the musical scenario more recently: Roberta Sá, Márcia Castro, Cibelle, Tulipa Ruiz, Mônica Salmaso, Martnália, Teresa Cristina, Maria Gadu and Maria Rita.

And the great dames: Maria Bethânia e Nana Caymmy.

Now, here comes a friend and one that knows it all. Luiz Cláudio has a very sophisticated musical taste and is crazy about opera. Here, he shares with us the Brazilian singers that inspire and touch his soul:

Ana Carolina – “Entrolhares”
Maria Bethânia – “Pedrinha miudinha”
Nana Caymmi – “Onde você estiver”
Marisa Monte – “Sou seu sabiá”
Ivete Sangalo – “Se eu não te amasse tanto assim”
Vanessa da Mata – “Quando amanhecer”

These guys couldn’t have chosen a better playlist! And I guess I would keep all these wonderful artists and just add three more, Bebel Gilberto, Danni Carlo and Olivia Bighton.

I’m sure we’re missing many other wonderful Brazilian singers, but these women are already very representative of our feminine voices.

I leave you with two songs and videos I love with two of my favorite singers, Marisa Monte and Teresa Cristina. And so not to disappoint you, on both videos Marisa and Teresa Cristina are in full steam with samba!

Have you ever heard of any of those Brazilian singers?

About the author

Carla Arena
A proud Brazilian teaching English in Brazil, interested in cultures, languages, people and lifelong learning.
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  • Wow Carla, there’s so much to discover here! Out of these I’ve only heard of Marisa Monte and Bebel Gilberto. I’m definitely going to check the rest. Thanks for the recommendations! Thanks to your lovely friends as well!

  • Susan Ettenheim

    Annette Aguilar!

  • Carla…
    Another bright side of yours. The names mentioned here are beyond comments. I must confess I’ll have to check some of them because it’s a same yet I haven’t listened to Brazilian music as much as I should. Anyway… I loved to read about Bethânia – the one and only for me here as I have Streisand in the US.I would also add Clara Nunes ( a great loss IMHO.

  • Maud Rugeroni

    What a great article. As you mentioned Mart’nália, the daughter of Martinho da vila (one of my favourite samba singers), there is one song she composed together with Zélia Duncan (another name missing from your list) called “Benditas”, also worth adding to the wonderful playlist gathered above. The lyrics are just superb…”

  • Dear all,

    I’m glad to see that you’ve enjoyed the list! Even better the suggestions here. So, yes! We should add to the list Zélia Duncan and Clara Nunes for sure!
    Maud, I also love Martnália with her very powerful voice and I’ve been to Zélia Duncan’s show and it is simply amazing! She is a full-fledged artist. I’ll check “Benditas”. Susan, I’ve never heard of Annette Aguillar. Is she Brazilian? will check her.

    thanks, guys. I’m sure this playlist will get even better with your help.

  • Jose Antonio

    Hello Carla,

    What a wonderful post. I knew just a little bit of this musical side of yours. I just loved reading the post. You are right, we do have great female singers and I am a big fan of all the ones cited by our colleagues.

    All the best

  • Carla – this is a great list. I’ve been stuck in my Bebel Bilberto-CeU-Rosa Passos kind of rut. (a nice rut, but a rut nonetheless)
    Now I can branch out a bit.
    Thanks for the suggestions.

  • Dear Jason,

    With Bebel, Céu and Rosa Passos you are already in very good hands! Well, I’d start branching out with Vanessa da Matta and Maria Gadú. I’m sure you’ll love them.

  • Adding some more names to the lists: Cida Moreira (Chico Buarque songs), Paula Morelembaum and Angela Ro Ro. Why not considering Rita Lee Jones? Don´t forget Virginia Rodrigues (Sol Negro).

  • Try this: a hammock, cold beer and Nara Leão.

  • One of my favourite singers is Baby Consuelo or Baby do Brasil.I love “O Céu”.It’s fantastic.The other singers you mentioned are great,especially Rita Lee.

  • Dear William,

    Great to hear about your musical preferences. Baby Consuelo was a hit in Brazil because of her irreverence and voice. She’s been out of the scence for quite a while. As for Rita Lee, she’s still around and singing!