8 de março de 2013

Maysa's short biography in English


Maysa, 1954.

Short biography in English

Maysa Figueira Monjardim, better known as Maysa Matarazzo or simply Maysa, were a Brazilian singer, songwriter and actress. Throughout life and career, she became one of the most important singers of Brazilian music.

Birth and childhood

Maysa, and her only brother, dressed for the carnival. 

She was born on June 6, 1936, in Rio de Janeiro city. Her father was named Alcebíades Guaraná Monjardim and her mother Inah Figueira Monjardim. Maysa belonged to an aristocrat family from the state of Espírito Santo in Brazil. Her family moved to town several times during Maysa’s childhood, but she grew up mostly in São Paulo city. Maysa was granddaughter of Alfeu Adolfo Monjardim de Andrade e Almeida, the Baron of Monjardim, who was governor of state of Espírito Santo five times. She studied in the most traditional schools of São Paulo, whose students were almost all belonging to São Paulo aristocracy. She used to spent her vacation in Vitória, capital of Espírito Santo state, with all her cousins, uncles and aunts.


Maysa, and her husband André Matarazzo at their wedding party.

Maysa, at age 17, married André Matarazzo, member of the Italian-Brazilian Matarazzo family, perhaps, the richest clan of Brazil in that time. André Matarazzo was seventeen years older than Maysa. Their wedding day on January 24, 1955, was one of the most expensive of Brazilian high society in the 50s.
In 1956, Maysa gave birth her unique son – Jayme Monjardim Matarazzo – better known as Jayme Monjardim, who becomes later a famous director of movies and soap operas.

Early career and 50s

Maysa, in her debut at the TV Rio.

In 1956, Maysa was still pregnant when during a family reunion; she met Roberto Côrte-Real, a great music producer who was enchanted by her voice and songs that she wrote. He invited her to record an album with those songs. The studio album Convite para ouvir Maysa (Invitation to hear Maysa) was recorded after her son’s birth and released in November 20, 1956. That disc was recorded in character charity; all his profit were donated to the Cancer Hospital. But Maysa’s husband disliked her musical ambitions; he thought she shouldn’t have a career. However, the disc – who until that moment was a flop – started to be divulgated and play on radio stations by the Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. Quickly the disc became a hit and makes Maysa a famous singer.

André Matarazzo was against her career, so she separated from husband in 1957 (there was no divorce in Brazil until 1977). Maysa’s career quickly becomes a great smash, she recorded her second album in 1957; she started to appear in every cover of magazines, gained many awards, making a lot of success. In 1957 Maysa also released her first TV show on March 13, 1957; broadcasted by TV Record in São Paulo, the program was named Convite para ouvir Maysa, too. She also recorded her greatest hit – Ouça (Listen) - wrote by her, that became a classic.

In 1958 she moved to Rio de Janeiro, the cultural capital of Brazil and most exciting city of the country. The TV Rio hired Maysa for present a new TV show, released in August 1957; RGE label released her third studio album in February 1958, named Convite para ouvir Maysa Nº 2; the audience and critics consider it as her best album, which was also her best-seller disc. The song Meu Mundo Caiu (My World Fell) - wrote by her - was one of the greatest hits of Brazilian music in that year and also became quickly a classic for our songbook and for Maysa, too. Still in 1958 she become the highest woman singer paid in Brazil. She still won the Troféu Roquette Pinto (the most important award of Brazilian TV and music during decades) for Best Singer Of The Year. In late 1958, unfortunately, Maysa suffered a car accident that was a big scandal in the newspapers, she almost died.

Although Maysa was a very success singer who was on the top of popularity, she had to face enormous troubles. Success, fame, popularity, celebrity and fortune weren’t enough to her. Maysa didn’t overcome her own decisions; the separation was a scandal in high society. Separation wasn’t usually in Brazil in that time and artists weren’t seen with good eyes. So, an aristocrat became singer was very strange and unusual. Maysa also had to face the sensationalism of many unscrupulous journalists. She fell in depression and developed serious alcoholism, gained weight and became fat. Hence, she was very criticized by the press. She was very troubled by this, so in 1959, Maysa traveled to Portugal and France where she sang and tried to escape of her problematic life in Brazil.


Maysa, with friends in front of the Blue Angel nightclub, in New York City.

In early 1960, Maysa suffer a nervous collapse and was admitted on a hospital for months, she had science that her life was a chaos, so she had plastic surgery and did deep sleep therapy, too. Consequently she lost circa of ten pounds. Maysa did her comeback to music recording her seventh studio album called Voltei (I'm Back), that was released in May 1960; Maysa was invited by Real Aerovias airline to make a concert in Japan in honor of the debut of Rio de Janeiro – Tokyo air-route. Maysa performed at Japanese TV and became the first Brazilian artist to perform in Japan.

When she returned to Brazil, she announced at a press conference that was hired by ABC (Associated Booking Corporation) for concerts in United States during three years. Many journalists speculated that she’d received $ 5.000 by week – a impressive salary. Maysa flew to USA on October 25, 1960; she performed for the first time on November 1st, 1960, at the Blue Angel nightclub, on 152 East 55th Street, in New York City. The Blue Angel run by Max Gordon and Herbert Jacoby, was one of the most sophisticated nightclubs in Manhattan, stars like Barbra Streisand and Woody Allen started their careers on Blue Angel’s stage. Maysa also signed a contract with Columbia Records, where she record the anthological album Maysa sings songs before dawn, released in July, 1960, became a myth, because it never was released in Brazil, just in other south America’s countries including Argentina, Uruguay and Peru. Unfortunately, that disc wasn’t a hit, despite is a very good album, who brings Maysa singing old American popular songs like You Better Go Now, Something to Remember You By, The End of a Love Affair and The Man That Got Away; in his cover, Maysa was named "The new star of Columbia Records". The truth is that she didn’t have time to disclose it. In August 1960, the usual troubles brought her to Brazil again.

Back to Brazil, Maysa became involved in the new Brazilian musical movement – Bossa Nova, who was still a small hit, almost limited to Rio de Janeiro. Bossa Nova needed of a great singer like Maysa to grow up and Maysa immediately loved that new musical style. Maysa recorded a wonderful Bossa Nova album named Barquinho (Little Boat), which was released in October 1961, but this album was very criticized by the press; so, it made little success, despite his good quality. At that time, Maysa had a romance with Ronaldo Bôscoli, who was one of the most important Bossa Nova songwriters of all time.

In 1962, her life was again chaos. So, she escaped from everybody trying to seek peace one more time. At that time, Maysa did deep sleep therapy on intention of loose weight, too, again. She admitted up on a clinic in Buenos Aires, Argentina. After, she also made some concerts in Buenos Aires’ nightclubs.  In October 1962, she released her eleventh studio album, which was named Canção do Amor Mais Triste (Song of the Saddest Love), mixing songs from Jazz, Bossa Nova and Samba-Canção.

In late 1962, Maysa traveled to Portugal where she performed in Portuguese TV and made some concerts at the Casino Estoril, she was very appreciated there. After, Maysa went to Paris where she performed a one-night concert at the famous Olympia music hall. Parisian press, who called her of "The Empress of Bossa Nova", very well received the concert. In Paris, Maysa also could do some performances in French TV and record a disc. When she was in Portugal, met the Belgian-Spanish businessman Miguel Azanza, they quickly ‘married’ and had their honeymoon in Paris, the marriage lasted ten years, until 1972; during 1963, 1964 and 1965, Maysa back to Brazil several times, but mostly spent her time in Madrid, Spain, where she fixed residence with her new husband.

In 1966, she returned to Brazil after a long absence from her country. Maysa was blonde, skinny and much more beautiful than she was one day, so she surprised the audiences in her return. Maysa wanted to resume her career, planned great projects that were a luxury TV series and a superb studio album, which would celebrate her ten years of career. Maysa created her own production company named Guelmay, with her husband’s collaboration. Working on the script of the TV series, Maysa conceived a great musical show, for this, she hired many important musicians, great maestros, a full ballet company, a famous costume designer, and the Salgueiro Samba School, whose musicians recording with her a Carnival samba song. She paid for everything. 

At last Maysa desired to present a TV series in her way, this was Guelmay intention – manage her career independently of labels and television networks. Unfortunately, no Brazilian TV network wanted to bought her TV series at that time, these videotapes keeps away from audience’s view until today. At least, the album was released in July 1966, through RCA Victor, who co-produced together with Guelmay. That album is really wonderful, one of the greatest recorded by Maysa, with brilliant arrangements, and she possibly was on the top of her vocal power.

In late 1966, Maysa attended the II Festival da Música Popular Brasileira (2nd Festival of Brazilian Popular Music) produced and broadcasted by TV Record in São Paulo. This time was called of ‘era of festivals’, time when Brazilian music reached a single standard of quality and popularity in our history. Maysa’s appearance at that Festival was a modest hit, but very appreciated. She performed the song Amor-Paz (Love, Peace), with lyrics by her and music by composer Vera Brasil. In the final day, on October 11, 1966, Maysa was ranked in sixth place.

 In late October Maysa attended the I Festival Internacional da Canção (1st International Festival of Song), which was divided in national and international phases, produced by the government of state of Rio de Janeiro and broadcasted by TV Rio from the Maracanãzinho Stadium in Rio de Janeiro. In this Festival her appearance was a smash; she performed Dia das Rosas (Day of Roses), a song wrote specially for her by the great musician Luiz Bonfá. At the end of the national phase on October 25, 1966, Maysa ranked Dia das Rosas in third place. At the end of the international phase, Maysa was honored as The Best Brazilian Singer of the whole festival. Maysa was also presenting her own TV show on TV Record at that same time, but she hated that program. After disagreements with the TV network, her TV show was abruptly cancelled. In November 1966, Maysa left Brazil with her son and husband.

Among 1967 and 1969, Maysa visited Milan, Lisbon, Madrid, Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Lima, Caracas, Bogotá, Mexico City, Puerto Rico, Morocco and Angola. In these places she sang in nightclubs, performs on TV networks and once a while recorded discs, she was very appreciated in Latin America countries. In 1967, she spent much time in Italy, where she rented a house in Viareggio, located in northern Tuscany, on the cost of Tyrrhenian Sea. She could do important contacts in Milan, too. Maysa became very closer from Caterina Valente, a famous Italian singer, dancer and actress. Maysa was invited by the maestro Ennio Morricone to record two songs for the soundtrack of 1967 Grand Slam (Ad Ogni Costo) directed by Giuliano Montaldo, starring Janet Leigh, Robert Hoffman, Klaus Kinski, Edward G. Robinson and Adolfo Celi. She performed at the popular nightclub Bussola, in Marina di Pietrasanta, Versilia, Tuscany, Italy. Maysa also starred some Italian TV shows at that time.

In 1968, Maysa made a long musical tour by the Latin America countries. She was very respected and recognized in South America, in countries like Argentina, Uruguay, Peru and Colombia – Maysa was received as a real superstar. Over there her albums were very good sold since she began her career. After made some concerts in Portugal, Maysa was invited to visit Angola during early 1969; so, she made a one or two months tour in Angola, performing in Luanda and Lobito. The audience was very well receptive, they expected she would back one day, but Maysa never comeback to Africa.

In March 1969, Maysa definitely returned to Brazil. In this same month, she released a new TV series called Maysa Especial (Special Maysa), broadcasted by TV Tupi, which contained the presence of Ítalo Rossi, one of the biggest actors on Brazilian theater and television and was her closest friend. It was very well receipted. In April, she gave up to make a season in the nightclub Sucata, who was very popular at the time, for make the most audacious project of her career. On May 9, 1969, Maysa released a smash season named A Maysa de Hoje (The Today’s Maysa) at the Canecão music hall, which was like the Carnegie Hall in NYC, but Maysa made their first success musical season. Everything were awesome in that concert, Maysa sang with a big band of thirty musicians on stage, she changed clothes every time, wore mini skirt, sexy costumes, the audience were fevered. At that time, the great Brazilian singers usually made concerts just at expensive nightclubs for restricted rich audience, so, Maysa brook this prejudice. A Maysa de Hoje remained in Canecão for a month, after Maysa made a season in São Paulo for three months at the Urso Branco music hall, both with enormous success. In Sao Paulo’s season the live album Canecão Apresenta Maysa (Canecão presents Maysa) was recorded during the concert, this album was one of the most famous of Maysa’s career. 

She never was so respected and good received by the critics and audience like in that time, later, she called 1969 as the happiest year of her life. In March 1969, Copacabana label released her fourteenth studio album, named Maysa. It was one of her greatest discs, working with a new generation of very talented musicians like Antonio Adolfo and Egberto Gismonti. But, incredibly, it became one of her less sold discs.

In late 1969, she attended the V Festival da Música Popular Brasileira (5th Festival of Brazilian Popular Music), but Maysa took part as juror. Soon, she attended the IV Festival Internacional da Canção (4th International Festival of Song) performing a fabulous song, Ave Maria dos Retirantes (Ave Maria of Emigrant), despite she had a bad placing in the final. Both festivals were awful and nothing added to Brazilian music.


Maysa, 1971.

In 1970, Maysa recorded the studio album that is considering her masterpiece – Ando só numa multidão de amores (I walk alone among a crowd of loves), released by Philips Records. Lamentably the album was a commercial failure, in spite of it was very good received by the press. Maysa was very disappointed. She quickly started to loose concern of music. In May, 1970, made a new season at the Canecão, but it wasn't as good as the 1969 season, so it was very bad received by the press, Maysa was angry again. In May, 1970, Maysa became presenter of the Dia D (Day D), a journalistic TV program broadcasted by TV Record in São Paulo, the show was very successful on the network and she became presenter after interviewed singer Maria Bethânia, Maysa did pretty well as journalist and was very interested in journalism. She made some important matter like the murder of general Pedro Aramburu in Argentina on June 1970, the death of Salazar in Portugal on July 1970 and the judgment of Charles Manson in Los Angeles on august, 1970; she was the unique Brazilian journalist to cover this issue. Despite the success, unfortunately, Maysa didn’t grow up as reporter.

Maysa became very interested in acting at that time. This feeling started when she made a tour to Mexico in early 1970, there, she performed on TV shows and was invited by Ernesto Alonso, recognized as ‘El Señor Telenovela’ (‘The master of soap opera’), to star in his next production. Maysa declined the invitation, but liked the idea of to be actress. In 1971, she was invited to star in a soap opera on Rede Globo. She accepted and O Cafona (The Tacky) released in March 24, 1971, and became a great success of the TV network. Maysa interpreted her alter ego, the alcoholic Simone, a rich socialite from São Paulo, who separates from husband and moves to Rio de Janeiro. This character was inspired in Maysa’s story of life. She later stared in another soap opera – Bel-Ami (Bel Ami) that released on June 6, 1972, on TV Tupi, but it was a flop. Archive footage of Maysa in these soap operas remains unseen until nowadays.

On October 8, 1971, Maysa starred her first theater role, as Marie in George Büchner’s Woyzeck. Maysa assembled a super production, very expensive, which included superb costumes, scenarios, musicians, etc. Maysa hired twenty actors, choir, and maestros and rented the theater for six months and she paid for everything. But that play was too heavy, too complex for a beginner actress. Consequently Maysa’s Woyzeck was a big flop, the press and audience didn’t receive it well and she was too criticized. As consequence Maysa was in a very bad financial situation.

In 1972, Maysa wrote and recorded a Portuguese version named Palavras, Palavras, of the Italian hit Parole, Parole, featuring the great Brazilian actor Raul Cortez. In 1972, her marriage with Miguel Azanza finished, he came back to Spain and she never saw him again. When she was still engaged in Bel-Ami, met Carlos Alberto on the studios of TV Tupi in São Paulo, he was a famous leading man of soap operas, and later they became lovers. After made some concerts in nightclubs of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, Maysa turned away from music and television, and started to build a beachside home located in the county of Maricá, on the coast of the Rio de Janeiro state. She spent many time of her life there, until die. Maysa spent almost whole 1973 on the beach.

In November 1974, Maysa released her sixteenth and last album, the recordings spent almost one year. At that time, she dedicated her time to painting and sculpture, but frequently appeared on some TV shows. In 1975 her romance with Carlos Alberto finished, soon she became girlfriend from the great maestro Júlio Medaglia, he became known as her last lover. Maysa officially made her last musical tour in 1975; at the Igrejinha, a small nightclub in São Paulo, after her death that season was named as “A turnê do Adeus” (‘The tour of goodbye’). Maysa visited Vitória for the last time in late 1976; she met her cousins, uncles and aunts there just few months before die. At that time she also made a kind of road movie, making long distance trips by car, like to Vitória or south of Brazil. Maysa died in a car crash on January 22, 1977; on the Rio-Niterói Bridge, which connects the cities of Rio de Janeiro and Niterói over the Guanabara Bay. Maysa was on her way to her beach house in Maricá.

Musical genre

Maysa performing at the Olympia music hall in Paris.

In the period before Bossa Nova, especially late 50s, Maysa together with Dolores Duran were the most important women singer songwriters of Brazilian music. Maysa became an emblematic singer of the genre Samba-Canção, also known as Dor de Cotovelo or Fossa, which was influenced by the Bolero, Blues and Fado, but she also had very appreciation for Bossa Nova, she recorded many Bossa Nova songs. Nevertheless, Maysa pioneered in the international style of Bossa Nova in her concerts around the world. Though Maysa always kept appreciation for sentimental, romantic songs. However, she was a fabulous interpreter in many different genres, as in Jazz style and Samba. Maysa sang in a very particular way, with all her feelings and emotions, she sang with heart and people can feel it. She transmitted feelings through the songs that she sang; passion, sadness, love, solitude, happiness, affection. Maysa was in a high level as well as other wonderful foreign singers, like Amália Rodrigues, Ella Fitzgerald, Edith Piaf and Mina Mazzini. Maysa’s style influenced some very important singers and composers from other generations, like Ângela Ro Ro, Leila Pinheiro, Fafá de Belém, Simone e Cazuza.

Her lyrics were almost autobiographical, spoke about the feelings she feel and her life story. Maysa’s most success as composer were the Samba-Canção Ouça, Meu Mundo Caiu, Tarde Triste, Adeus, O Que?, Felicidade Infeliz, Diplomacia and Tema de Simone. As interpreter, her great hits were Ne Me Quitte Pas, Chão de Estrelas, Dindi, Por Causa de Você, Se Todos Fossem Iguais a Você, Franqueza, Suas Mãos, Bouquet de Izabel, O Barquinho, Meditação, Demais, Preciso Aprender a Ser Só, Tristeza, Canto de Ossanha, Dia das Rosas and Bonita

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