Mário Reis (Mário da Silveira Meirelles Reis - 12/31/1907 Rio de Janeiro - 10/5/1981 Rio de Janeiro) was one of the best interpreters of Brazilian popular music. Active and successful from 1928 to 1936, he helped popularize the (at the time) unknown and genial composers of the Carioca hills throughout Brazil, with his 161 interpretations recorded on 82 78 rpms.
From a middle-class family, he was already a violão student when he knew Sinhô (the King of Samba). Reis had an original style that was lighthearted, jumpy, and humorous, contrasting with the hegemonic bel-canto school of those days. In August 1928, Odeon released the first record of Reis's, with "O Que Vale a Nota sem o Carinho da Mulher" and "Carinhos de Vovô," both by Sinhô, and with the sole accompaniment of Sinhô and Donga (another important, historic artist/composer), both playing violões. The originality of Reis's style was confirmed decades later when João Gilberto was introduced to the audiences in Brazil as "the new Mário Reis." For Odeon, Reis would record in that same year 18 songs, including Sinhô's "Sabiá" and "Deus Nos Livre do Castigo das Mulheres." The next album, with Sinhô's "Jura" and "Gosto Que Me Enrosco," broke selling records. Reis was the first to record a song by Ary Barroso: On August 1, 1929, Reis debuted on the radio singing Barroso's samba "Vamos Deixar de Intimidade" at the Rádio Sociedade. With the major singer Francisco Alves, he recorded 12 albums, beginning in 1930 with "Deixa Essa Mulher Chorar" (Brancura) and "Quá, Quá, Quá" (Lauro dos Santos). As he had a less-potent vocal emission than Alves', he had to endure the partner's resounding voice one foot behind his own ears in those times of monaural recording.
In 1932, Reis traveled for a season of one and a half months in Buenos Aires, Argentina, with Alves, Carmen Miranda, Luperce Miranda, Tute, and the dancers Nestor Figueiredo and Célia Zenatti. Shortly before that tour, he met at a Rio's nightclub the great tango singer Carlos Gardel. In 1932 at Columbia, Reis recorded two records with Noel Rosa's songs: "Filosofia" (with André Filho, "Vejo Amanhecer," "Na Esquina da Vida" (with Francisco Matoso), and "Meu Barracão." He scored two of his biggest hits at the Carnaval of 1933 with Lamartine Babo's march "Linda Morena" and samba "A Tua Vida é um Segredo," for Victor. That same year, he recorded with Carmen Miranda the marcha junina "Chegou a Hora da Fogueira" (Babo) and was hired by Rádio Mayrink Veiga. In that year, he and Alves had a fuss with each other. When Reis was invited by the duo of composers Bide/Marçal to chose between two sambas (the other would be Alves'), he asked them to show the sambas to Alves beforehand and he'd keep the other one. Alves chose "Vivo Sonhando," a beautiful song which unfortunately didn't make it to the top. Reis was left with "Agora é Cinza," which became the champion at 1934's Carnaval contest and a big hit. He also recorded in that year "Alô, Alô" (André Filho) with Miranda. In 1934, he recorded with Miranda the marcha junina "Isto é lá com Santo Antônio" (Lamartine Babo). In 1935 and 1936, he also sang on the musical movies Alô, Alô, Brasil and Estudantes (both by Wallace Downey) and Alô, Alô Carnaval (Ademar Gonzaga). In 1935, he had a hit for Odeon with the marcha "Cadê Mimi" (João de Barro/Alberto Ribeiro). Due to his resistance against public relations, interviews, hyping, and photographs, his prestige declined and he accepted a position with the Federal District (at the time, Rio) mayoralty cabinet. From then on, he would give only a couple of interviews. But he returned to the artistic scenery several times. In 1939 at the benefit show Joujoux & Balangandãs at the prestigious Teatro Municipal do Rio de Janeiro, he sang the march "Joujoux & Balangandãs" and the samba "Voltei" (both by Lamartine Babo); he then recorded these two songs and four other records for Columbia. In 1951, he recorded three albums for Continental with Sinhô's compositions and a Carnaval album with the marcha "Flor Tropical" (Ary Barroso) and the samba "Saudade do Samba" (Paulo Soledade/Fernando Lobo). In 1960, he was invited by Aluísio de Oliveira to record for Odeon the LP Mário Reis Canta Suas Criações em Hi-Fi. de Oliveira also produced 1965's Ao Meu Rio, Reis' LP in tribute to the fourth centennial of the city of Rio de Janeiro. In 1967, de Oliveira's Elenco released the LP O Melhor do Samba, with Reis, Billy Blanco, Araci de Almeida, and Ciro Monteiro. In 1972, Odeon released the Mário Reis LP also produced by de Oliveira with his old hits and two songs by Chico Buarque, the march "A Banda" and the samba "Bolsa de Amores." This last one was vetoed by the military censorship, but Reis demanded that the track remain blank on the side. Dead in his apartment of the best Rio hotel, Copacabana Palace.
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