Caetano Veloso

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About Caetano Veloso

Caetano Veloso is the shape-shifting spirit of Brazilian popular music, a singer-songwriter who, despite (or perhaps because of) his allergy to convention, has found himself at the center of Brazilian culture for over half a century. Born Caetano Emanuel Vianna Telles Veloso in Santa Amaro da Purificação in Bahia, Brazil, in 1942, Veloso grew up steeped in the Afro-Brazilian traditions of his home state. But it was his introduction to bossa nova as a teenager that propelled him into the music world, following his sister, the singer Maria Bethânia, to Rio de Janeiro. He made friends with musical co-conspirators Gilberto Gil and Gal Costa, and, buoyed by the global youth culture of the late 1960s, Veloso and Gil birthed tropicalismo, the playful, experimental psychedelic rock that seduced Brazilians while simultaneously threatening the country’s military dictatorship—which led to Veloso’s arrest and ultimate exile. Living in London, Veloso struggled with depression, but it couldn’t dampen his restless creativity. Through that exile and his return, Veloso has always created: The precise delicacy of his singing and songwriting has remained constant, even as he’s experimented with genres from traditional folk to post-punk, following his muse with little regard to fads—shaping fashion rather than being ruled by it. Influential fans like David Byrne and Beck helped raise his profile internationally, and as a new generation discovered his work, he continued to release vital music well into the 21st century.

Santo Amaro, Brazil
August 7, 1942
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