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Caetano Veloso

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Santo Amaro da Purificação, Bahia, Brasil (1942 – present)

Caetano Veloso (born 7 August 1942) is one of the most popular and influential Brazilian composers and singers. He was born in Santo Amaro da Purificação, Bahia, Brasil, the fifth of the seven children born to José Telles Veloso (“Seu Zezinho”) and Claudionor Vianna Telles Veloso (“Dona Canô”). His younger sister, Maria Bethânia, preceded him to fame as a singer in the mid-1960s.

He began his career around 1965 singing and he has cited his greatest musical influences from his early period as João Gilberto and Dorival Caymmi. (João Gilberto would say later about Caetano’s contribution that it added an intellectual dimension to brazilian popular music.) But with such musical collaborators Gilberto Gil, Gal Costa, Tom Zé, Chico Buarque, and Os Mutantes, and greatly influenced by the later work of The Beatles, developed tropicalismo, which fused Brazilian pop with rock and roll and avant garde art music resulting in a more international, psychedelic, and socially aware sound. Veloso’s politically active stance, unapologetically leftist, earned him the enmity of Brazil’s military dictatorship which ruled until 1985; his songs were frequently censored, and some were banned. Veloso was also alienated from the socialist left in Brazil becasue of his acceptance and integration of non-nationalist influences (like rock and roll) in his music. Veloso and Gilberto Gil spent several months in jail for “anti-government activity” in 1968 and eventually exiled themselves to London.

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