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Francisco Alves

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Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (1898 – 1952)

Francisco Alves (Rio de Janeiro, August 19, 1898 — Pindamonhangaba, September 27, 1952) was maybe the most successful singer of all time in Brazil. In his career span of 35 years of success (interrupted by his death in a car accident), he was the singer who recorded more 78 rpm albums in Brazil than anyone: 526 albums with 983 songs. As a composer, he left around 132 songs, but many of them were later proved to have been bought from composers. Even then, just one of his certified creations (his signature tune, “A Voz do Violão,” with lyrics by Horácio Campos) is enough to accredit him in this field. The son of a Portuguese immigrant who played the bombardon in leisure hours, Chico Alves (as he became known later by his audiences) was praised for his voice since he was a child, but worked at several small jobs (shoeshiner, hatmaker, taxi driver) prior to success. His artistic career debut was in 1918, in the company owned by actors João de Deus and João Martins. He recorded for the first time the next year, invited by João Gonzaga (alleged son of the female conductor Chiquinha Gonzaga and owner of the newly founded recording company Popular). The two albums had the marcha “O Pé de Anjo” and the sambas “Fala Meu Louro” and “Alivia Estes Olhos,” all by Sinhô (who participated in the recording as an accompanying musician). “O Pé de Anjo” was part of the musical polemic that appeared after the first samba, “Pelo Telefone,” opposing the Bahianos and Cariocas. This song was the biggest hit of the Carnival of 1920, and the other songs also were successes in that year. Alves would record three other albums with eight songs for Popular, but the recording company would last less than a year, having sold very little records.

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