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Nelson Cavaquinho


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Nelson Cavaquinho (Nelson Antônio da Silva - October 29,1911 Rio de Janeiro - February 2,1986 Rio de Janeiro) was arguably the best composer ever, behind Cartola. He left 600 compositions that have been recorded by some of the greatest interpreters of Brazilian music, including Ciro Monteiro, Elis Regina, Elizeth Cardoso, Chico Buarque, Guinga, Paulinho Da Viola, João Bosco, Rafael Rabello, Zizi Possi, Beth Carvalho, Toquinho, Luiz Melodia, Maria Bethânia, Leny Andrade, Clara Nunes, Jards Macalé, Itamar Assumpção, Arnaldo Antunes, Nelson Gonçalves, Zeca Pagodinho, and others.

Nelson Cavaquinho was in fact born one year after the date consigned on his birth certificate (October 28, 1910). His father, Brás Antônio da Silva (a tuba player from the military police band of Rio), worried about the precocious signs of a dedicated Bohemian, changed the certificate so he could enlist in the Army one year sooner. He was born in the São Cristóvão neighborhood in Rio. At eight, he moved with his family to Lapa. Soon after, he abandoned the junior high school to go to work. Nine years later, he moved again with his family to a blue-collar neighborhood in Gávea, where he began to play the cavaquinho in the local rodas de choro, where he got the nickname. His first choro compositions date from that period, when he also enrolled with the military police (at 19), due to his father’s insistency. He got married the next year and moved to the Brás de Pina neighborhood, but his marriage lasted for only a short period, due to his Bohemian habits.


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