Thursday, May 26

Elza Soares, one of the best singers in Brazil, dies at 91 | Brazil

Elza Soares, one of the greatest Brazilian singers of all time, has died at her beachside home in Rio after a legendary six-decade career that made her a national treasure and a global star.

“The beloved and eternal Elza has gone to rest but will remain forever in musical history and in our hearts and those of thousands of fans around the world. Just as Elza Soares had wanted, she sang until the end,” her family and team announced in a statement Thursday afternoon.

He was an immediate rain of tributes to the 91-year-old samba singer, who died of natural causes and was preparing to release a new album and perform a series of shows.

“Thank you, the greatest of Goddesses,” actor Lázaro Ramos wrote on Instagram about the woman most Brazilians simply call “Elza.”

“The voice of the millennium”, tweeted rapper Mano Brown in reference to the honor once bestowed upon him by the BBC.

Elza Soares performing in Rome in 1970.
Elza Soares performing in Rome in 1970. Photograph: Gianni Foggia/AP

The mandolinist Hamilton of Holland acclaimed “The great warrior woman of Brazil” while the singer Maria Rita celebrated “this incredible woman of Light”.

“She is fucking amazing”, the actor Taís Araujo tweeted. “She always was and always will be!”

The mayor of Rio, a samba lover, Eduardo Paes, declared three days of mourning, tweeting: “Elza lives!”

Along the coast of São Paulo, Brazil’s largest city, black writer and activist Preto Zezé saying the heavens had opened, “as if God were crying for Elza’s departure.”

Born in Moça Bonita, a favela on Rio’s impoverished west side in 1930, Soares endured a childhood of deep deprivation and tragedy. She had her first child at the age of 13 and lost her second to starvation when she was only 15.

Nevertheless, she became one of Brazil’s most successful and beloved artists, recording more than 30 albums after launching her singing career in the late 1950s at the height of the bossa nova movement.

Elza’s large fan base is said to have included Buckingham Palace, with the singer performing for Queen Elizabeth II during a visit to Brazil in 1968. “She was into samba, you know?” Elza remembered later. “He even broke protocol by pacing with his feet. My God, isn’t life crazy?

On Thursday the British Embassy in Brazil remembered the meeting: “It was a meeting of queens! Rest in peace, Elizabeth.”

Guitarist Zé Paulo Becker, who recorded and toured with the late singer, said: “Playing with her was incredible… The power she had on stage was just amazing.”

“She could have been tired, but when she walked out on stage she would become this volcano,” Becker added. “She was a true artist… and she will leave a huge hole.”

In addition to being a musical icon, the black singer was a powerful voice for change and social and racial justice. “Brazil is the most racist country we have,” he said in an interview on the eve of his 90th birthday. “Here things are horrible, it is a disease that has no cure, an absurd, disgusting situation. It is my race that I am seeing being destroyed and we have to speak up and say enough is enough.”

On Thursday, Brazil’s former president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, said the country had lost not only one of its most powerful voices “but also a great woman, who always defended democracy and good causes.”

Outspoken and spectacularly elegant to the last, Elza sent what would be her last tweet on Wednesday at lunchtime, 24 hours before her death. “My name is now, meu amor,” He said.

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