9 Songs That Showcase the Greatness of Elza Soares

Soares, one of the queens of Brazilian music, passed away last month at the age of 91.

Elza Soares died sleeping at home, according to her close entourage. It was a tranquil passage for an artist whose life is marked by an impressive talent and a constant fight against racism and sexism—elements that hold an important chunk of the global debate today, thanks to the efforts of women like her.

Born in a Rio favela in 1930, Elza devoted her life to music and left an impressive catalog of 34 albums and hundreds of EPs. It’s a life's work that assures her place as a staple of the Brazilian songbook, ranging from different samba strains and surpassing genres. Wherever she could, Elza took her exquisite vocal technique and interpretation, reshaping old standards, bringing life to lyrics and transforming great songs into undisputed classics. See below some of the songs that help understanding her greatness.

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Photo by David Redfern/Redferns/Getty Images

11 Afro-Brazilian Percussionists You Need To Know

These Brazilian percussionists have broken sound frontiers, invented new instruments and thrilled musical giants such as Michael Jackson and Sarah Vaughan.

It isn't rare to forget that excellent drummer's name. While singers, band vocalists, and even composers are venerated among amateur music audiences, percussionists very often go unnoticed. Perhaps because percussionists are not usually the protagonists on stage, their identities — or even their importance — sometimes fall from the audience's sight.

But when it comes to Brazil's African-influenced music cultures, percussion is by no means secondary. To get into the roots of Afro-Brazilian music is to understand that percussionists such as Ubirany, Naná Vasconcelos and Wilson das Neves — are on the same level of importance as internationally-famous singers like Elza Soares. The "cozinha" (or the "kitchen", how the ensemble of percussion instruments is popularly called in the samba universe) has always grounded, guided and defined the Afro-Brazilian music experience.

Below are 11 percussionists that enlighten the Brazilian and international music scene with unpaired rhythmic inventiveness and sensibility.

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