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 was Inah Figueira Monjardim. Maysa belonged to an aristocratic family from the state of Espírito Santo in southeast 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 the elite. She used to spent her vacations 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 18, 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 fancy events 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 the 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) brought eight songs wrote by her, all talking about love and sadness and was recorded after her son’s birth and released in November 1956. That record was made in character charity: all his profit were donated to the Cancer Hospital. But Maysa’s husband disliked her musical ambitions, he didn't want her to turn into a professional singer. However, her record soon started to gain attention and receive steady airplay in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. Quickly the album became a hit and made Maysa a celebrity.

André Matarazzo was against her career, so she separated from him in 1957 (there was no divorce in Brazil until 1977). Maysa was soon a great smash, she recorded her second album in 1957. Maysa started to appear in every cover of magazines, was hounored 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 show was called Convite para ouvir Maysa too. In this same year she wrote possibly the biggest hit of her career - "Ouça" (Listen), a song whose meaning is a farewell to her then husband. "Ouça" had an enormous impact in our musical scene of the late fifties and now is regarded as a standard.

In 1958 she moved to Rio de Janeiro, then the cultural capital of Brazil and most exciting city of the country. The TV Rio network hired Maysa for a new show, released in August 1957. Her record label, RGE, released her third studio album in February 1958, named Convite para ouvir Maysa Nº 2, the audience and critics considered it as her best album, which was also the best-seller record of Maysa's journey. The song "Meu Mundo Caiu" (My World Fell), also wrote by her, was one of the greatest hits of Brazil in that year and rapidly became a standard of our songbook and of Maysa too. Still in 1958 she become the highest woman singer paid in Brazil and 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, Maysa suffered a serious car accident who left some injuries and fathered some bad publicity for her.

Although Maysa was a very successful singer who was on the top of her popularity, she had to face enormous troubles. Success, fame, celebrity and fortune weren’t enough for her. Maysa didn’t overcome her troubles, the separation from André Matarazzo caused a commotion in the press and society. Separation wasn’t usually in Brazil at that time and female artists weren’t seen with good eyes. So, an aristocrat who becomes singer was a very strange and unusual thing 1950s Brazilian society. Maysa also had to face the yellow journalism. She fell in depression and developed serious alcoholism, gained weight and became fat, hence, she was being hardly attacked by the gutter press almost all the time. Exhausted and trying to escape from her problems, n 1959, Maysa travelled to Europe where in Portugal and France she performed on TV and nightclubs, in Paris Maysa led a quite bohemian and erratic life.


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

In early 1960, Maysa suffered a nervous collapse and was admitted on a hospital for some time, when she had plastic surgery and deep sleep therapy. Consequently she lost circa of ten pounds. Soon after Maysa was recording her seventh studio album called Voltei (I'm Back), released in May 1960. Around that time she was guest of honour of Real Aerovias airline's debut of Rio de Janeiro-Tokyo air-route. There she sang on Japanese TV, becoming the first Brazilian artist to perform in Japan. On return Maysa visited the US where in New York City she was approached by American entrepeneurs.

When Maysa returned to Brazil announced at a press conference that she was hired by ABC (Associated Booking Corporation) for concerts in United States during three years. Many journalists speculated that she’d receive $ 5.000 by week – a impressive salary. Maysa flew to USA on October 25, 1960. She performed there 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 recorded the anthological album Maysa sings songs before dawn, released on July 1961, the album for much time was sort of a myth, because it was never officially released in Brazil till 2014, only in other south America’s countries like Argentina, Uruguay and Peru. Unfortunately, the album wasn’t a hit, despite it is very good, bringing Maysa singing old American standards like "You Better Go Now", "Something to Remember You By", "The End of a Love Affair" and "The Man That Got Away". On the cover Maysa was called "The new star of Columbia Records". The truth is that she didn’t have time to disclose it. In August 1961 the usual troubles brought her back to Brazil again.

In Brazil, Maysa got involved in a musical wave – the Bossa Nova, who was then still a small hit, almost limited to Rio de Janeiro. Bossa Nova needed of a great singer like Maysa to grow up and she immediately identified with that new genre. Maysa recorded a great album in Bossa Nova style named Barquinho (Little Boat) which was released in October 1961, but Barquinho was very criticized by the press, who identified Maysa as a torch song queen while Bossa Nova deals with more happy and less dramatic material. So, at that time it made little success, however, today Barquinho is recognized as a real Bossa Nova statement. Also during this period Maysa had a tempestuous romance with Ronaldo Bôscoli, who was one of the most important Bossa Nova songwriters of all time.

In 1962, her life was again in chaos. Drinking too much, she escaped from Brazil one more time seeking peace. During these times Maysa did deep sleep therapy on intention of loose weight too, again, in a clinic in Buenos Aires, Argentina. After that she did gigs 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 on TV and did some concerts at the Casino Estoril, she was always very appreciated there. Then Maysa went to Paris where she did a one-night concert at the famous Olympia music hall. Parisian press called her "The Empress of Bossa Nova". In Paris, Maysa also perfpormed on TV and recorded an EP, which was never relesead in Brazil too. While in Portugal, she met the Belgian-Spanish businessman Miguel Azanza, they quickly ‘married’ and had their honeymoon in Paris, the marriage lasted ten years, until 1972, during the next years Maysa came back to Brazil several times, but mostly spent her time in Madrid where she fixated residence with her new husband.

In 1966, Maysa returned to Brazil after a long absence. Blonde, skinny and much more beautiful than ever, she surprised audiences in her return. Maysa wanted to resume her career, planning a big TV show 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 show, Maysa conceived a great musical, she hired many important musicians, maestros, a full ballet company, a famous costume designer and the Salgueiro Samba School, whose musicians recorded with her a Carnival samba song. She paid for everything from her own money. 

Maysa desired to make the show her own way, that was Guelmay's intention – manage her career independent of record labels and television networks. Unfortunately, no Brazilian TV network wanted to bought her TV show at that time, so these videotapes were never seen by the public. At least, the album called simply Maysa was released in July 1966, through RCA Victor, who co-produced it with Guelmay. That album was very good, had rave reviews and is considered one of the greatest recorded by her, with beautiful arrangements, and Maysa possibly 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 the "era of festivals", 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 sang "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. She also had her own TV show on TV Record around this time, but she disliked it. After disagreements with the TV network, her 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 performed in nightclubs, TV and once a while recorded songs. 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. in Italy Maysa became very closer from Caterina Valente, a famous Italian singer, dancer and actress and was also invited by the great Ennio Morricone to record two songs for the soundtrack of 1967 movie Grand Slam (Ad Ogni Costo) directed by Giuliano Montaldo, starring Janet Leigh, Robert Hoffman, Klaus Kinski, Edward G. Robinson and Adolfo Celi. She also performed at the popular Bussola nightclub and starred in a special TV show devoted to her and Brazilian music.

In 1968, Maysa made a long tour by the Latin America. She was very respected and recognized in South America, in countries like Argentina, Uruguay and Peru Maysa was received as a real superstar. Over there her albums had good solds since she began her career. After some gigs 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 come back one day, but Maysa never cameback to Africa.

In March 1969, Maysa definitely returned to Brazil. In this same month, she released a new TV show called Maysa Especial (Special Maysa) broadcasted by TV Tupi. It had good reviews. In April, she gave up to do a season in the Sucata nightclub, which was very popular at that time, to do 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, in Rio, which was like the Carnegie Hall in NYC, but Maysa made this place's very first success musical season. Everything were awesome: Maysa was accompanied by a band of thirty musicians on stage, she changed clothes, wore mini skirt, besides some technical and artistical advances, the audience were fevered. At that time, the great Brazilian singers usually made concerts just at expensive nightclubs for restricted rich audience, so Maysa broke this prejudice. A Maysa de Hoje remained in Canecão for a whole month, after Maysa brought the spectacle to São Paulo for three months at the Urso Branco music hall, with enormous success too. A live album, Canecão Apresenta Maysa (Canecão presents Maysa) was recorded during one of the gigs, this album is one of the most famous of Maysa’s career. 

She was never so respected and well treated by the press like in this time, later she recalled 1969 as the happiest year of her life. In March 1969, Copacabana records released her fourteenth studio album, named Maysa. It was one of her prettiest records, where she worked with a new generation of talented musicians like Antonio Adolfo and Egberto Gismonti, but incredibly, it was one of her less sold albuns.

In late 1969, Maysa took part as juror of the V Festival da Música Popular Brasileira (5th Festival of Brazilian Popular Music). Soon she also attended the IV Festival Internacional da Canção (4th International Festival of Song) performing a protest song, "Ave Maria dos Retirantes" (Ave Maria of the emigrants), despite she had a bad placing in the final. Both festivals were awful and added little to Brazilian music.


Maysa, 1971.

In 1970 Maysa recorded the album that is now considered her masterpiece – Ando só numa multidão de amores (I walk alone among a crowd of loves) on Philips Records. Lamentably the album was a commercial failure, in spite of it was good received by the press. Maysa was very disappointed. She quickly started to loose concern of music. In May, 1970, she did a new season at the Canecão, but it wasn't as good as the 1969 season, with bad reviews from the press. In May 1970, Maysa became host 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 interviewing the singer Maria Bethânia, Maysa did pretty well as journalist and was very interested in journalism. She covered some important news 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 present there. Despite this moderate success, 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 and was invited by Ernesto Alonso, recognized as "The master of soap opera" to star in his next production. Maysa declined the invitation, but liked the idea of to be an actress. In 1971 she was invited to star in a soap opera on Globo TV. She accepted and O Cafona (The Tacky) was released on March 24, 1971, rapidly becoming a strike of the TV channel. 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, released on June 6, 1972, on TV Tupi, but it was a failure and she soon left the production. Archive footage of Maysa in these soap operas remains unseen until nowadays.

On October 8, 1971, Maysa starred in her first theater role, as Marie in George Büchner’s Woyzeck. Maysa assembled a super production, very expensive, which included the finest costumes, scenarios, musicians, etc. She hired twenty actors, choir, maestros and rented the theater for six months, paying from her own money. But that play was too heavy, too complex for a beginner actress. No one understood it and Maysa’s Woyzeck was a big flop, the press and audience didn’t receive it well. 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 finally ended. The same year, when Maysa was still engaged in Bel-Ami, she met Carlos Alberto on the studios of TV Tupi in São Paulo, he was a famous leading man of soap operas, and soon they became lovers. After some gigs in nightclubs of Rio and São Paulo, Maysa turned away from music and television and started to build a beachside house located in the county of Maricá, on the coast of the Rio de Janeiro state. She then spent most of her time there. Maysa spent almost the whole 1973 on the beach.

In November 1974, Maysa released her sixteenth and last studio album, the recordings spent almost one year. At that time, she dedicated her days to painting and sculpture, but frequently appeared on some TV shows. In 1975 her romance with Carlos Alberto finished and she soon started to date the maestro Júlio Medaglia, a respectable musician. Maysa officially made her last musical among 1975 and 1976, at Igrejinha, a small nightclub in São Paulo, after her death that season was called “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. In this period she also did some kind of road movie, doing 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 and Fado, but she was also very fond of 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, 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. Maysa was in a high level as well as other wonderful foreign chanteuses, like Amália Rodrigues, Ella Fitzgerald, Edith Piaf and Mina Mazzini. Maysa’s style influenced some very important singers and composers from future generations, like Ângela Ro Ro, Leila Pinheiro, Fafá de Belém, Simone, Cazuza e Alice Caymmi.

Her lyrics were almost autobiographical, spoke about the feelings she feel and her life story. Maysa’s greatest hits as composer were the Sambas-Canção "Ouça", "Meu Mundo Caiu", "Tarde Triste", "Adeus", "O Que?", "Felicidade Infeliz" and "Diplomacia". She also had achievement with other people songs' like "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" and "Dia das Rosas".

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