Singer Ceu ranks among the most innovative Brazilian artists to emerge in America in years, blending samba, jazz, soul, R&B and electro-pop into a uniquely appealing, sultry sound all its own. Born Maria do Ceu Whitaker Pocas, she adopted the moniker “Ceu” (Portuguese for “sky”) upon relocating to New York City in her late teens to launch a singing career. There, she encountered many new influences, such as Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Lauryn Hill and Eryka Badu, who served to modernize her classic Brazilian influences.
After meeting fellow Brazilian Antonio Pinto (an acclaimed composer most known for creating the musical scores for two Oscar-nominated films, “Central Station” and “City of God”) the pair recorded her self-titled debut album in 2005. The disc’s charming and beautiful songs were enough to create a stir both in Brazil, Europe and Canada, and Ceu received a Latin Grammy nomination for “best new artist” of 2006. In 2008, she received a Grammy nomination for “Best Contemporary World Music Album” for her debut release. In 2009, her critically acclaimed second album, “Vagarosa,” reached No. 2 on the U. S. Billboard’s World Music chart. The album has since been nominated for a 2010 Latin Grammy for “Best Contemporary Brazilian Pop Record.”
In 2010, Ceu was invited by Herbie Hancock to record a version of “Tempo de Amor” for the “Imagine Project” LP. That same year she was one of the rare Brazilian artists who performed at Coachella. In 2011, she contributed a version of the track “It’s a Long Way,” in collaboration with Apollo Nove and N. A.S. A., for the Red Hot organization’s most recent release-for-charity album, “Red Hot+Rio 2.” (Proceeds from its sale go toward fighting HIV/AIDS and related health and social issues.
Since her U.S. debut, Ceu has been met with critical praise from NPR’s “Morning Edition,” The Associated Press, Reuters, and many more.