She was known as The Little Pepper
February 5, 2011 6:12 PM   Subscribe

Elis Regina was perhaps the biggest Brazilian popstar of her time. The clip in the first link is a single song from a TV special she did in 1973, at the height of her powers, and which has been put online in its entirety. The song, Águas de Março, was a Tom Jobim composition, which they sang together on the album Elis & Tom, which also featured such gems as Corcovado, Inútil paisagem and Triste. Over her career Elis Regina worked with a who's who of Brazilian popular music, and there's quite a lot of material out there. The best places I've found are YouTube channels elisetom1974, Eurachel and, though the Elis Regina material is mixed in with other stuff, jordaoqualquer is a treasure trove. Elis Regina died from an alcohol and cocaine overdose in 1982, 36 years of age. Last year NPR had a short appreciation of her as part of its 50 Great Voices series.
posted by Kattullus (26 comments total) 54 users marked this as a favorite
Kattullus, thank you so much for this. Elis Regina is amazing, and she died way too young. My wife (luazinha) has a haircut just like Regina, and I've always wanted to record a spoof of the sweet recording session for Aguas de Março, lip-syncing with those huge 1970s cans on. It's so great that they actually filmed the recording session. I love that you can see the scene and understand better why she cracks up at the end of the song.
posted by umbú at 6:35 PM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

FWIW after seeing the video in the first link (on WFMU's Beware of the Blog in 2006) I managed to track down a DVD of the 1973 TV special on Ebay . . . definitely worth it. It's great to see it made more widely available.

Wikipedia articles on Elis Regina, Tom Jobim, Águas de Março (video from the first link), and Música Popular Brasileira (MPB or, in English, Brazilian Popular Music) are decent starting places if you're wondering what this is all about.
posted by flug at 6:54 PM on February 5, 2011

Thank you so much for putting this together. She was amazing and I cannot wait to comb through what you've collected here.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 7:01 PM on February 5, 2011

By the way, the pianist in the Águas de Março video (first link), who has that amazing little interchange with her starting at 3:24, is her long-time collaborator and second husband Cesar Camargo Mariano.
posted by flug at 7:08 PM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Nice post, but I think I still prefer Gal Costa .
posted by puny human at 7:27 PM on February 5, 2011

Elis Regina duetted with Antonio Carlos Jobim on "Waters of March."

Here's the two of them miming along in the studio to the version they recorded.

And here they are performing it live.
posted by New Frontier at 7:45 PM on February 5, 2011

She was so great.
posted by Scoo at 8:12 PM on February 5, 2011

I mean, she is obviously blessed with a wonderful voice, but it is all out front. With Costa there is a sensual quality that lingers, like an aftertaste, and something I could only describe as "negative space" in her voice which allows the listener in, to find their own way.
posted by puny human at 8:55 PM on February 5, 2011

For all of you Elis Reina fans out there, please do not forget that she has an equally talented daughter, Maria Rita. Please check her out. She sings a song that is in one of my top five songs of all time, Cara Valente.
posted by msali at 9:10 PM on February 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

posted by msali at 9:11 PM on February 5, 2011

Great post.

The first video seems incredibly modern, fourty years later. If I manage to get a working time machine, Rio circa 1973 is one of the times/places I'll dial in.
posted by Keith Talent at 9:14 PM on February 5, 2011

I know almost nothing about her. I know her name, that she was Brazilian and that she's dead. I couldn't name more than one song she sang. But, when I'm in a particular mood, I'll look up Aquas de Marco on YouTube and play that video in the first link. I'll listen to it several times in a row, even, and then I'll queue up an English language version (This is a good one, I think) to remind me what the words actually mean.
Near the end of the video clip in the first link, she's smiling and laughing through the song, and it makes me feel good. It's probably because she seems so genuinely happy. I don't know if she was actually happy while she was singing there, but damned if there isn't some humanity in her performance.
posted by Uppity Pigeon #2 at 10:50 PM on February 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

I love, love, love Águas de Março. It's one of the few recordings I don't get tired of after listening repeatedly.
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:24 AM on February 6, 2011 [2 favorites]

Corcovado is almost impossible for me to listen to without tears. It doesn't seem to matter whether it's Astrud Gilberto, Frank Sinatra or Elis Regina, and the effect remains the same in both English and Portuguese (which I don't speak). I'm wiping my eyes on my sleeve and trying to sniffle as quietly as possible as she reads the Sunday paper in the kitchen.
posted by The Mouthchew at 1:13 AM on February 6, 2011

Absolutely awesome, I love the Waters of March song she does. So much feeling.
posted by Duug at 2:54 AM on February 6, 2011

Yay! I loves me some Elis! Águas de Março is near the top of my list, as is the haunting Romaria.

Guess I know who I'll be listening to this morning!
posted by wallaby at 3:21 AM on February 6, 2011

I've long thought that Águas de Março is one of the greatest songs ever (I like it a lot more than what I thought were more mainstream Jobim songs), but thought it was an obscure position, perhaps because the lyrics, when translated into English, don't appear to make any sense - very pleased to see all the love here. And, yes, Elis & Tom is a wonderful record.

(I particularly like the way Elis breaks up laughing at the end.)
posted by Grangousier at 4:32 AM on February 6, 2011

I love this Jorge Ben cover Bicho do Mato that she does. It shows that she can be brassy and pull off louder, groovier material well too.
posted by umbú at 6:05 AM on February 6, 2011

Now I know where that woman from Pamplemousse bit her style from. Thanks.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:20 AM on February 6, 2011

> I love, love, love Águas de Março.

Same here, and I don't know why it's so mesmerizing—I only understand a few words, and the tune is on the face of it ridiculously simple and repetitive. But like others here, I can't get enough of it, and Elis is wonderful. Thanks for the post!
posted by languagehat at 9:59 AM on February 6, 2011

Oh man I love Elis Regina. I wish I could find again and interview with Caetano Veloso where he talks about the sensation she caused she came onto the scene in the mid 60s, a gaúcha "country bumpkin" according to Tom Jobim, with an unpolished but incredibly powerful voice and similarly unpolished stage mannerisms. Her performance of "Arrastão" (full version without the video) on Brazil's first televised music festival made her into a huge star and is a cultural touchstone for Brazilians of that generation. Some claim that song was the start of the genre MPB.

"Arrastão" (Trawling Net), written by the amazing Edu Lobo, is a song about impoverished fishermen in Bahia. I read that the lyrics were controversial and could have gotten her in huge trouble with the dictatorship, but they dared not touch her because of her popularity. I wish I find a definitive source on this; if the song is allegorical it's lost on me.

More Elis from that period: O Cantador, Lapinha, Upa Neguinho (another one by Edu Lobo).
posted by hydrophonic at 12:15 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh, and here's some Gal Costa for puny human (nsfw, final scenes of the movie Terra Estrangeira).
posted by hydrophonic at 12:29 PM on February 6, 2011

Here's a page with a very literal English translation of the lyrics of Águas de Março, as well as Jobim's standard English-language reworking (warning: autoplaying music that's impossible to turn off, but it doesn't repeat once it's run through Águas de Março once).
posted by Kattullus at 2:33 PM on February 6, 2011

An English-language translation of the biography of the famed Brazilian singer Elis Regina. The 12-chapter, 363-page book, 'Furacão Elis', will be housed permanently at the site and will be available to readers for free. [via]
posted by unliteral at 4:31 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

This one from a Milton Nascimento tv special is pretty great when she gets a case of the lip syncing giggles.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 9:19 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

And here she is cracking up with Wilson Simonal.
posted by hydrophonic at 10:55 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

« Older The logical design evolution of the fixed-gear...   |   Sitting Dance Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments