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Biography

  • Born

    5 May 1946

  • Born In

    Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

  • Died

    30 April 2019 (aged 72)

Beth Carvalho (Elizabeth Santos Leal de Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, May 5, 1946 - April 30, 2019) was a Brazilian samba singer, guitarist, cavaquinist and songwriter.

Carvalho was raised in a middle-class family in Rio de Janeiro's South Zone. Her father, João Francisco Leal de Carvalho, was a lawyer. She grew up influenced by different types of music. Her father used to take her to samba school rehearsals, and her mother was a lover of classical music who encouraged her to become a ballerina. She started playing the guitar as a teenager, and got involved with the emerging Bossa Nova movement, winning a nationwide song contest on TV at the age of 19. Her first record was 1968's "Andança", carrying the song of the same name to victory in a larger festival, which brought her to prominence. Although she started her career with Bossa Nova, that was an ephemeral phase which lasted less than one year. Beth started dedicating herself entirely to samba just as her fame began, working with legendary composers such as Nelson Sargento.

Carvalho is a very important artist in the history of samba, as she has celebrated and brought the spotlight to the work of legendary composers such as Cartola, Nelson Cavaquinho & Guilherme de Brito when they weren't receiving the attention they deserved. Almost all of her records have songs by these composers, among other legendary sambistas such as Nelson Sargento and the Old Guard of Portela. Her samba school is Mangueira, but that didn't stop her from recording dozens of songs from composers of Portela, the other great traditional samba school in Rio.

Later, in the late 1970s and early 80's, Beth helped bring to the public the work of other rising pagode artists from Cacique de Ramos, such as Almir Guineto, Jorge Aragão and the Fundo de Quintal group. Then, in 1983, she introduced Zeca Pagodinho who would become the major samba name of the 90's. Carvalho always tried to bring underrated composers the recognition they deserve, and she is regarded as madrinha do samba (the godmother of samba). She was a driving force in the modernization of samba in the 80s, and at the same time rejected commercial pop trends in samba arrangements, preserving tradition.

In the 1990s, Beth's popularity wasn't the strongest, but she was always popular. She recorded an album dedicated to the samba from São Paulo, rejecting the famous axiom that São Paulo is the grave of samba. In 1998 she recorded an album dedicated entirely to the pagode classics, Pérolas do Pagode (Pagode Pearls).

In the new millennium, Beth working more than ever, released CDs and DVDs. With a career that spans 40 years, she is a historical figure in Brazilian culture, and recognized as the female sambista with the most substantial opus in Brazil, without diminishing other, younger stars such as Clara Nunes and Daniela Mercury.

Trivia
Beth is a known supporter of both the Botafogo and Clube Atlético Mineiro football teams
Beth is one of the main personalities of the samba school Mangueira
Beth had a variety of hits in the 1970s, with her 1979 song Coisinha Do Pai being one of her biggest hits. The song was inserted into the Mars Pathfinder.
Her social music often concerns the poor and the Indigenous peoples in Brazil.

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