Elza Soares has had an extraordinary career so far. She started off performing with samba composer Ary Barroso as an impoverished 13-year-old, desperate to earn money. But over the following decades Soares rose to international stardom, culminating in her being named Brazil's singer of the millennium by the BBC in 1999. With competition from the likes of João Gilberto and Caetano Veloso, this is no mean feat.
Soares might be 79 now, but she's showing no sign of mellowing. Her voice has been given a new lease of life thanks to her fierce, brilliant 2015 album, The Woman At The End Of The World, which saw her teaming up with avant-garde musicians from São Paulo. It's a thrilling blend of samba, rock and electronica, dealing in politics, domestic violence, gender and sexuality.
Soares recorded two songs from the album – Firmeza and Woman At The End Of The World – in an exclusive live session for Red Bull Music. Watch her performances in the videos below.
Women At The End Of The World was written for the singer by Rômulo Fróes and Alice Coutinho. "The woman at the end of the world is someone beyond her time," explained Soares. Band member Guilherme Kastrup added: "It's a song dedicated to her; she talks about her life story, her pain and her happiness – she's a big force. It's emblematic of the rest of the album and represents Elza's life right now."
Firmeza?! was composed by Rodrigo Campos, who shares vocals with the singer. "The music is a bit like Paulinho da Viola's Closed Sign – but for our times. It symbolises the union of the language of São Paulo with the carioca slang, and is also symbolic of Elza's meeting with these musicians."
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