Elis Regina was a Brazilian bossa nova and jazz singer, best known for her duet with Antonio Jobim, “Waters of March.” The catchy tune has been the staple of the bossa nova sound and is worldwide recognized.
Born in Porto Alegre, she showed a natural talent for music. At the age of 11, while singing at a children’s radio show, she caught the attention of notable music producers. She recorded her debut album in 1960.
Her first big worldwide outbreak was singing the hit “Arrastão,” during a music festival in 1965. Regina’s singing technique, soothing voice, and performance during live shows skyrocketed her music career.
The second album sold over one million copies, and it was the first Brazilian record that did so. She had her distinguishable musical style which mixed samba, bossa nova and pop music. The so-called Tropicalia movement was at its full potential by the early 70s, with rising stars quickly gaining popularity and Regina was one of them.
Her most famous collaboration was with Antonio Carlos Jobim in 1974, and it’s regarded as one of the greatest duets of all time. The album includes “Águas de Março” or “Waters of March, of” and it is the best-known bossa nova song in history. She also recorded songs by Chico Buarque, Jorge Ben, Rita Lee, and many more Brazilian musicians.
Although her songs remain apolitical, she is known for criticizing the Brazilian dictatorship at that period. As a strong supporter of equal human rights, she stood against capitalism, sexual injustice, and racism. Her cult status and popularity didn’t allow the Brazilian government to arrest or exile her.
Elis Regina’s life tragically ended in 1982, at the age of 36. Her late years were followed by crippling depression and anguish, accidentally overdosing on cocaine and temazepam. The death of the legendary singer shocked the entire nation.
During her funeral procession, over 100,000 people sang her songs throughout São Paulo, as “Águas de Março” could be heard for miles. Around 15,000 friends, fans, and relatives held her wake at Teatro Bandeirantes, in São Paulo. She was buried in the Cemitério do Morumbi.
Elis Regina will be forever remembered as one of the greatest Brazilian musicians of all time.
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She sang nationalistic Brazilian songs at a stadium, despite her leftist allegiance and much to the dismay of many fans. Moreover, she sacrificed her personal integrity to protect her family during the harsh Brazilian periods in the 70s.