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Luiz Gonzaga

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Exu, Brazil (1912 – 1989)

Luiz Gonzaga do Nascimento (Exu, Pernambuco, December 13, 1912 — Recife, Pernambuco, August 2, 1989) was a prominent folk singer, songwriter, musician and poet. Born in the countryside of Pernambuco, he is considered to be responsible for the promotion of Northeastern (“”) music throughout the rest of the country. He is also known as the “king of ” and “Gonzagão”.

The son of a peasant and accordion player, he was attracted to the 8-bass at an early age, although he started out by accompanying his father by playing the (a type of bass drum) and singing at parties and religious celebrations. He left home in 1930 to join the army, and toured Brazil with an army band until 1939. Gonzaga decided to remain in Rio de Janeiro with a recently purchased accordion. He performed in the streets and in bars, playing s, es and s.

After noticing that the Northeastern immigrants missed the music from their hometowns, he started to give listeners the sort of music they craved to hear: s, baiões, s and s. At Ary Barroso’s talent show, Luiz Gonzaga played his chamego “Vira e Mexe” and was acclaimed by the audience and by the dreaded host, who gave him the highest score.

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