Elza Soares, one of the greatest Brazilian singers of all time, has died at her seaside home in Rio after a legendary six-decade career that made her a national treasure and a global star.
“Beloved and eternal Elza has gone to rest but she will forever remain in music history and in our hearts and those of thousands of fans around the world. Just as Elza Soares wished, she has sang to the end,” his family and team announced in a statement Thursday afternoon.
There was an immediate surge of tributes to the 91-year-old samba singer, who died of natural causes and was about to release a new album and perform a series of shows.
“Thank you, greatest of goddesses,” actor Lázaro Ramos wrote on Instagram of the woman most Brazilians simply call “Elza.”
“The Voice of the Millennial” tweeted rapper Mano Brown in reference to the honor once conferred on him by the BBC.
“She’s fucking amazing”, actor Taís Araujo tweeted. “She always has been and she always will be!”
Rio samba-loving mayor Eduardo Paes declared three days of mourning, Tweeter: “Elza lives!”
Along the coast in São Paulo, Brazil’s largest city, black activist and writer Preto Zezé noted the heavens had opened, “as if God were weeping for Elza’s departure.”
Born in Moça Bonita, a favela on Rio’s impoverished west side in 1930, Soares endured a childhood of deep deprivation and tragedy. She was forced into marriage by her father when she was 12, had her first child when she was 13, and lost her second to hunger when she was just 15.
Nonetheless, she became one of Brazil’s most successful and beloved artists, recording over 30 albums after launching her singing career in the late 1950s, at the height of the bossa nova movement.
Elza’s vast fan base is said to include Buckingham Palace, with the singer performing for Queen Elizabeth II during a visit to Brazil in 1968. “She loved samba, you know! Elza called back later. “She even broke protocol by tapping the beat with her feet. My God, isn’t life crazy.
On Thursday, the British Embassy in Brazil reminded the meeting: “It was a meeting of Queens! Rest in peace Elza.
Guitarist Zé Paulo Becker, who recorded and toured with the late singer, said: “Playing with her was amazing… The power she had on stage was just amazing.
“She might have been tired, but when she got on stage, she would become this volcano,” Becker added. “She was a true artist…and she will leave a huge void.”
Besides being a musical icon, the black singer was a powerful voice for social and racial justice and women’s rights. “Brazil is the most racist country we have,” she said in an interview on the eve of her 90th birthday. “It’s awful here, it’s a disease without cure, an absurd, disgusting situation. This is my race that I watch being destroyed and we need to talk and say enough is enough.
On Thursday, Brazil’s former president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, said the country had lost not only one of its most powerful voices “but also a great woman, who has always stood up for democracy and good causes. “.
Elza died exactly 39 years to the day after the death of the love of her life – legendary footballer Mané Garrincha – whom she met at the 1962 World Cup and later married. During the Brazilian dictatorship from 1964 to 1985, the couple was forced into exile in Italy after their home in Rio was shot down.
Candid and spectacularly elegant until the very end, Elza sent what was to be her last tweet on Wednesday noon, 24 hours before her death. “My name is now, meu amor,” It said.