Welcome to Connectbrazil.com's tribute to Elis Regina. I hope that you'll enjoy this special on-line presentation and would like to thank Robert St. Louis for his hard work, love and dedication to the memory of Elis...
After reading through a portion of this wonderful transcript, a colleage said recently, "Elis Regina was born to destiny, much like a shooting star that streaked across the Brazilian night." In this case, the poetic timbre is no accident, and the push against hyperbole stands aside for this singer's story: From her beginnings in far south Porto Alegre, she made her way to Rio in 1964, endured Jobim's initial rebuff ("That gaúcha is a bit of a country bumpkin," he's reported to have said. "You can still smell the barbecue on her."), and rode the crest of the new MPB movement while reinventing Bossa Nova in São Paulo. All in 37 short years.
Stories abound, fact blends into legend as the years pass, but one of my favorites is a recounting of one particular show.
With the final notes of her performance still thundering through the auditorium, the singer bowed slightly, then stood purposely erect, trembling with emotion as the waves of applause washed over her. And with tears streaming down her face, she raised her arms out to her sides to mimic Christ's crucifixion, mocking the newly created dictatorship that held forth over Brazil in 1964.
For Brazil, it was a moment captured in time, an action that defined the social rubric for post-Bossa Brazil. Protest and passion were quickly replacing Bossa's awakening of innocence. For us, the story is a place to begin to understand the life of Elis Regina.
March 17th marks Elis Regina's birthday, but even those who only casually observed this singer's meteoric career knew that fate would hold to a much shorter calendar. Elis Regina died of a drug overdose on January 19th, 1982, putting a coda on an all too brief roller coaster of a life that was filled with riotous emotion and more than enough music to sustain us long after she had gone.
Nicknamed 'The Hurricane', - an allusion to her mood swings - Elis Regina's talent was beyond measure and had no equal. Indeed, in the ensuing 20 years, the void created by her passing has gone largely unfilled in Brazilian song. Today, Gal Costa still reigns as the Grand Dame while singer such as Leila Pinhireo and Zizi Possi battle for position as her heirs apparent while staving off a plethora of challenges from succeeding generations. But who could possibly claim Elis Regina's position today? Silence stands in answer, ringing as loudly as those cheering masses that day in Brazil, long ago...
Much like Charlie Parker, Woody Gutherie or Placido Domingo, Regina's music demands that you involve yourself. And much like Janis Joplin's, Regina's tempestuous life sought its creative release on stage and in the studio. Her story is an amazing one and now it's here for you to read at your leisure.
Elis Regina's definitive biography, "Furacão Elis," by Regina Echeverria was first published in Brazil in 1985. The book was an immediate sensation, and remained a best seller for quite some time. In 1991, a dedicated fan named Robert St. Louis began a four-year project to translate the book to English. Although not a professional translator, St. Louis has nevertheless provided the world with a wonderful gift - he credits nearly a dozen and a half people who supplied guidance for the accuracy of his work. Graciously, Robert St. Louis has given us permission to present this book, in it's entirety for you to enjoy and share with your friends as a permanent additoin to Connectbrazil.com.
Fittingly, that's how an original copy of this book came to me. I was a houseguest with producer David Hadges' family while visiting Rio in 1989, and after we had finished a long lunch, the conversation turned to Elis. "Come with me," he said, and we went to his study, where he handed me the book you're about to read.
To this day, I carry two special memories of that afternoon in the Brazilian Spring; One, of looking out David's 3rd story window from his Lagoa condo to view the Corocvado mountain and the Christ statue playing with the clouds far above. The other memory was of a new friendship that came so easily half a world away.
Back then, it always took two books for me to read just one, but happily today, no dictionary is needed to enjoy one of Brazil's most enthralling musical stories: The life of Elis Regina.
Always a pleasure,