Benito Di Paula
About Benito Di Paula
Coining a different style of samba, which consists of fancy dressing and weepy vocal interpretations at the piano, Benito di Paula became one of the exponents and fathers of the "sambão-jóia," the overly romantic and commercial samba genre that was the precursor of the contemporary pagode romântico. Having songs recorded by international interpreters like Paul Mauriat, his highly successful discography (with several of his albums surpassing 600,000 copies sold) is complemented by his work as composer of prime time nationwide TV soap operas (Nino, O Italianinho, Simplesmente Maria, etc.). His composition "Faça De Mim Uma Ilha" won the Chico Viola award. He also was the host of the very successful TV musical Brasil Som 75.
Di Paula debuted as a crooner in a local dance band in Nova Friburgo. He decided to expand his horizons and moved to Rio de Janeiro where his precarious economic situation forced him to live in the Morro da Formiga shantytown. But it was there that he would meet authentic sambistas and make contact with the old-guard samba, which was very important for his apprenticeship. His next move was toward the São Paulo state, where he lived in the city of Santos. In that city, Di Paula formed his first group. After a short time of performing in nightclubs, he signed with Copacabana, recording his first LP in February 1971. His first LP to reach commercial success (150,000 copies sold) was the third one, Um Novo Samba, recorded in 1973. The album had his biggest hit, "Retalhos de Cetim" (recorded by many top performers, including Paul Mauriat), and another smash, "Violão Não se Empresta a Ninguém," also released with success in Japan. Two years later, Di Paula departed for a series of performances in Mexico, Japan, U.S., and France (at the MIDEM, in Cannes). He also had his LP released in Argentina and had his song "Quero Ver Você de Perto" recorded by Roberto Carlos, scoring another hit. That was the starting point for several Brazilian performers to record Di Paula's creations. His next LP had the success "Meu Amigo Charlie Brown" (a tribute to Schultz' character). Still, in 1975, Di Paula became the host of the prime time TV show Brasil Som 75, which had big audiences. In the next year, his show at the Vivará nightclub (Rio de Janeiro) was opened. He performed for one year for a packed house from Thursday to Sunday, accompanied by a 42-figure orchestra. At that time his releases were having an average selling of 600,000 copies. In 1977, Di Paula toured Europe, starting with Italy. He continues to perform for his faithful fan base, but his apex was restricted to the '70s and, to a lesser extent, the '80s. ~ Alvaro Neder