American black rhythms have been a major influence for Brazilian musicians. The mix of those influences with native music gives a unique soul music
For the last half-century, Brazilians have been reinventing their music in part thanks to their love for American black rhythms, encompassing the likes of rock, funk, disco and rap. In that spirit, we’ve prepared a list of some of Brazil’s best soul music. This style of music combines samba with funk, rock and soul. The themes vary from macho bravado to heartbreak, cheeky flirting, football, and even social and racial justice. Welcome to the exciting world of Brazilian soul music!
It all started with Jorge Ben, the man that single-handedly created what we call in Brazil samba rock. This style of music is exactly what it sounds like: both genres are mixed into catchy three-minutes tunes. It is not surprising that this one is one of the most known Brazilian songs of all time.
Jorge Ben – Mas que Nada (1963)
WILSON SIMONAL was the most popular Brazilian singer in the 1960s, but accusations of being connected to the dictatorship put an end to his career in the early 1970s.
Wilson Simonal – Nem Vem Que Não Tem (1967)
In Brazil, ROBERTO CARLOS is nicknamed “The King”; he was our most popular entertainer for decades. He started as a rock musician but soon transitioned into more romantic singing. By 1969, however, he was flirting with soul music. This one was composed by Tim Maia.
Roberto Carlos – Não vou Ficar (1969)
At the high of military oppression, this song from PAULO DINIZ become a sort of protest by reflecting the feelings of Caetano Veloso, at the time exiled in London.
Paulo Diniz – I Want to Go Back to Bahia (1970)
TONI TORNADO was a bouncer, soldier, drug dealer and a dancer before winning a TV festival with this song. He is credited as one of the pioneers of funk music in Brazil.
Toni Tornado – BR3 (1971)
The song is from Jorge Ben, but MARIA ALCINA‘s voice is unique. She was a very popular singer and a household name in the 1970s.
Maria Alcina – Fio Maravilha (1972)
Arguably the best voice of Brazilian black (soul?) music, TIM MAIA is perhaps also one of Brazilian music’s crazier personalities. His music has continued to be popular since his death in 1998, and his songs are staples at house parties across Brazil.
Tim Maia – Réu Confesso (1973)
CASSIANO is one of the main names in Brazilian soul music. His solo career was not met with huge success, but his songs were recorded by many other artists.
Cassiano – A Lua e Eu (1976)
The BLACK RIO band is considered one of the most influential groups in the country, featuring a mix of soul and disco music with a Brazilian touch that became the pattern for many later musicians.
Banda Black Rio – Mr. Funky Samba (1977)
SANDRA DE SÁ reached national fame with this anthem of racial equality. “Black is beautiful” is the message, and it is still one of the most-known songs of Brazilian Soul Music.
Sandra Sá – Olhos Coloridos (1982)
CLAUDIO ZOLI was a major name in the Brazilian soul music scene, appearing in the early 1980s. This song is still a favorite of many radio stations across the country.
Claudio Zoli – Noite de Prazer (1983)
When ED MOTTA launched his career with this song, he was only the nephew of Tim Maia. Soon, though, he acquired a following of his own, becoming one of the most respected soul and jazz singers in the country.
Ed Motta – Vamos Dançar (1988)
The singers/composers DOLLORES AND MARQUINHOS are not famous, but the song is familiar to most Brazilian ears. This one is a classic of the so-called “funk balls,” which were popular parties in the Rio de Janeiro slums that became notorious for attracting huge numbers of people, including drug barons.
Dollores e Marquinhos – Rap da Diferença (1994)
FERNANDA ABREU is one of the singers responsible for modernizing Brazilian soul by incorporating electronic beats in the early 90s.
Fernanda Abreu – Veneno da Lata (1995)
Coming out of the Rio de Janeiro slums, this duo took Brazil by storm in the mid-90s. CLAUDINHO AND BOCHECHA offered a softer and more radio-friendly version of the songs popularized by the funk balls. The sudden death of Claudinho in a car accident put an end to their run.
Claudinho e Bochecha – Quero te Encontrar (1997)
SEU JORGE rose to international fame in 2003 as an actor in City of God. His music was already a success in the country, especially in his hometown of Rio.
Seu Jorge – Carolina (2001)
A big band from São Paulo, FUNK COMO LE GUSTA mixes Latin music, samba, electronic, rock, soul and funk. This song is originally from 1999, but the footage is from 2010.
Funk Como Le Gusta – 16 Toneladas (2010)
Originaly a rapper, CRIOLO became a major star in 2011 when he released this song, considered one of the best of the year.
Criolo – Não Existe Amor em SP (2011)
Our last song features a name from our last playlist. LINIKER is the last in this long line of artists who are reinventing Brazilian soul music. Aside from his groove and international flavor, he also brings an element of sexual defiance with his androgyny.