Rosa Passos is a contemporary singer in Brazil who is dedicated to a genuine evolution of Brazilian music, devoid of fashionable trends or commercialism. She has established herself firmly in the country's artistic scenery, acknowledged by such artists as João Gilberto, Maria Schneider, Clare Fisher, Paquito d'Rivera, Johnny Alf, Nana Caymmi (who recorded two of her compositions), and even the number one enemy of bossa nova, the music researcher J.R. Tinhorão.
Passos's father was very fond of music and he started all his six children on an instrument. Passos's perfect pitch capabilities led her to begin playing the piano at the age of 3.
When she was 11, she heard João Gilberto's Orfeu do Carnaval, which changed her life. Passos abandoned the study of piano and decided to be a singer. She began listening to Gilberto compulsively, and learned the violão from listening to Gilberto's records. Her other vocal influences were Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Etta James, Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington, Shirley Horn (who has declared herself to be a fan), Cole Porter, and George Gershwin. However, Rosa's main influences remain João Gilberto and Dorival Caymmi.
In 1968 Passos performed on Salvador-based TV show, Poder Joven. In 1969 she began to participate in music festivals. In 1972, she entered her song "Mutilados" in the Globo Network's Festival Universitário, under a pseudonym and won the first place.
Because she couldn't find any interest in the media for her delicate, swinging, truthful style, she continued to play and compose at home, attending college in the meantime.
In 1978, while living in Brasília, she recorded her debut album, Recriação. The album consisted of compositions that she wrote with the poet Fernando de Oliveira. Eight years later she recorded Amorosa, an explicit tribute to her idol João Gilberto's composition of the same name. In 1994 she recorded Curare, with hits by Antônio Carlos Jobim ("Fotografia," "Dindi," "A Felicidade," "Só Danço Samba," "O Nosso Amor"), Johnny Alf ("Ilusão à Toa"), Carlos Lyra/Vinicius de Moraes ("Coisa Mais Linda"), Ary Barroso, Djavan, and others.
In 1996 she recorded Pano pra Manga, for Velas, using mostly her own compositions, along with some classic hits by Jobim, Chico Buarque, and Ary Barroso.
For label Lumiar, she recorded an album dedicated to Ary Barroso, in the label series Letra e Música. In the next year, she recorded, again for Lumiar, the album, Rosa Passos Canta Antonio Carlos Jobim: 40 Anos de Bossa Nova with 14 Jobim classics.
In 1999 she was accompanied by Paquito d'Rivera on a European jazz tour. In 2000 she released Morada do Samba (Lumiar), resuming her writing work. The album brought eight of her compositions, together with "Beiral" (Djavan), "Lá Vem a Baiana" (Dorival Caymmi), "Calmaria" (Walmir Palma), "Saudade da Bahia" (Dorival Caymmi), and "Retiro" (Paulinho da Viola). For the year 2000, she booked a tour through ten European countries, one show in the U.S. and a tour through Japan.
Never resting, Passos continues to make records, including 2003's Entre Amigos/Among Friends with bassist Ron Carter, a 2004 re-release of her pivotal Amorosa on Sony Classical, and 2006's Rosa on Telarc.
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