CAETANO VELOSO, dubbed “one of the greatest songwriters of the century” (The New York Times), is among the most influential and beloved artists to emerge from Brazil. Known there since the 1960’s, Veloso has made more than thirty recordings to date and has developed a strong international following.
Born in Santo Amaro, Bahia, in 1942, Caetano Veloso began his professional musical career in 1965 in Sao Paulo. In his first compositions he drew on the bossa novas of Joao Gilberto, but rapidly began to develop his own distinctive style. Absorbing musical and aesthetic ideas from sources as diverse as The Beatles, concrete poetry, the French Dadaists and the Brazilian modernist poets of the 1920s, Caetano, together with Gilberto Gil, Gal Costa, his sister Maria Bethania, and a number of other poets and intellectuals, founded a movement called Tropicalismo. By experimenting with new sounds and words, adding electric guitars to their bands and utilizing the imagery of modern poetry, Caetano became a musical revolutionary.
This short-lived movement, founded in 1968, ended abruptly when Caetano and Gil were sent into exile and lived in London. Now universally credited with redefining what is known as Brazilian music, it laid the groundwork for a renaissance of Brazilian popular music both at home and abroad. Caetano and Gil returned to Brazil in 1972 and found that Tropicalismo had remained intact and their audience had continued to grow.
Although Tropicalismo set the tone for Caetano’s career, his music has evolved greatly over the years. Incorporating elements of rock, reggae, fado, tango, samba canao, baiao and rap-- with lyrics containing some of the best poetry in a musical tradition rich in verse-- Caetano’s music is sometimes traditional, sometimes contemporary, often hybrid. At once an astute social commentator and balladeer of highly emotive love songs, Caetano is one of the most respected poets in the Portuguese language. Indeed he is one of only a handful of artists who has resolved how to be musically modern and still undeniably Brazilian.
Veloso followed his 1999 Grammy Award-Winning Nonesuch release Livro, an album which garnered widespread critical acclaim in the US and brought with it his first-ever US tour, followed by a soundtrack for the Carlos Diegues film Orfeu.
In spring 2001 Nonesuch released Noites do Norte (Nights of the North), a meditation on themes of race, slavery and Brazil's quest for a national identity. Caetano recently completed a book on Brazilian music and culture, to be published in the US on Knopf later this year. Caetano’s current release is Omaggio a Federico e Giulietta, a live recording made in 1997 in Rimini in honor of two masters of Italian cinema, Federico Fellini and Giulietta Masina.
Caetano’s long-awaited memoir, Tropical Truth: A Story of Music and Revolution in Brazil, is to be published by Knopf in Fall 2002, alongside the release of a new 2-CD set, Live in Bahia, on Nonesuch and a month-long national tour, signaling a period of unprecedented activity in the U.S.