Happy Birthday, Elis Regina

Elis Regina

While many other people will be pretending that they’re Irish today for some reason that’s never been clear to me and chugging green beer, a phenomena that also eludes my comprehension, I will be working and then scurrying home hoping to avoid the puking amateurs and hoping that the parade from yesterday will have acted as enough of a pressure valve for said amateurs.

But I will also be thinking of Elis.

Elis Regina, born March 17, 1945, died January 19, 1982 at the age of 36 of the cursed curse of many too-young popular musical artists: The drug overdose. You may not know Elis Regina. But you probably know Elvis and of how adored he was in the United States. Well. It was estimated that 80,000 came to see Elvis upon his death.

Similarly, it was estimated that 100,000 came to see Elis.

I discovered her while researching a song I love, “Waters of March,” as sung by Jane Monheit. I found this.

Yes. This corny lip-sync performance during which a cigarette magically appears in the woman’s right hand, with those awful-looking headphones and which can’t help but remind me of an Electric Company sketch—wait, maybe that’s why it appealed to me—this is what introduced me to Elis Regina. I had to know who that woman was.

Which led me to the Música Popular Brasileira special of 1973.

You want to experience a bit of effortless perfection today? Here.

Ladeira da Preguiça

Upa Neguinho

Vou Deitar e Rolar (Qua Qua Ra Qua Qua)

Or, if you’d like to see the completo programa (1:34):

I purchased her “Come e Porque” for download on eMusic. I like to place it with one of those soaring recording collections that stays put, like Stevie Wonder’s “Innervisions” or Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On.” It’s that good.

Canto De Ossanha

(a song for which I’ve found an interesting translation and story…here…)

Anyway. So. Today marks the St. Patty’s day. Have a beer. But have one for Elis, too. K?

6 thoughts on “Happy Birthday, Elis Regina

  1. Wow, this is such a beautiful and refreshing post! I went through an intense Elis phase about 5+years ago and for the last year or so I refrained (subconsciously) from her voice, music & past. For some reason about week ago, I felt a huge resurgence to listen and indulge in one of my most favorited singer’s music and legacy…I felt her aura most intensely in this past week or 2 and I realized why..of course, it was her birthday 🙂 What a wonderful Pisces that was brought into (& taken from) this world so many years ago…it’s also VERY refreshing & amazingly beautiful to see how other Brazilian artists and most especially her DAUGHTER, Maria Rita, have been doing tribute shows in honor of this magnificent woman in the past year..it’s also cool to see that the rest of the world is finally recognizing her uncomparitable talent that was shared with us, o so many years ago…Viva Elis!

  2. Thanks Amelia Ray…I gave your file a listen; nice! ND, I thank you immensely for your comments. I can’t tell you myself how unexpected it was for me to become so besotted by this artist. I mean, I have been digging the Gilberto/Jobim album for decades, but most music in the “world music” genre doesn’t grab me. But this lady is a beam of light one can’t ignore. I have also meant to check out Maria Rita as well.

  3. Believe me Sean, I get it. I believe that some time down the road, the marketers will find a way to make Elis more accessible to English-speaking markets.

    I hope that’s a long ways away because until then you and I can have her all to ourselves. Thanks for commenting.

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