The music produced in South America over the last hundred years has included a rich variety of singers/songwriters and this article reflects on some of the names of South America who poured heart and soul into their respective works. Let’s take a look at the top 5 South American musicians we bet you’ve never heard of:
Elis Regina burst onto the scene in the 1960s while participating in a song festival, eventually rising through the hierarchy with hits such as ‘Aguas De Marco’. Her partnership with Tom Jobim (playing piano) and the resulting musical album are often cited as one of the best ‘bossa nova’ works of all time.
She brought a new image into the world of Brazilian music, updating classic samba and bossa nova. She died at the age of 36 in her home in Brazil, much to the shock of the nation.
As a Colombian Caribbean music player, Arroyo’s array of musical styles led him to Ernesto Estrada and the band ‘Fruko y Sus Tesos’, where he performed for a decade. After leaving the band, he formed his outfit, named ‘The Truth’.
His popularity with the band skyrocketed and he became known as El Joe. His personal life was plagued by demons though, and his association with drugs was well documented, causing him numerous problems until 2011, when he died of heart failure.
A child who grew up listening to the likes of Stevie Wonder, Seu Jorge has been noted as bringing back Brazilian pop samba. With a gravel-like voice dripping with emotion, a reminder of Jorge’s violent childhood in a Brazilian favela, this artist has become the frontman of one of South America’s most colorful bands, Farofa Carioca.
Deviating from the soulful sounds of Seu Jorge and Elis Regina, Juanes was part of a heavy metal Cuban group named Ekhymosis for a decade before moving into a solo career. Retaining his native tongue whilst others resorted to English lyrics for greater recognition, Juanes has had little trouble in finding success, winning Grammy Awards and numerous nominations.
Still young, and already with an accomplished career, there seems to be no limit as to what Juanes can achieve.
Known as a Cuban hip-hop group, Orishas catered to a youthful crowd craving African-American-style rap. Their lyrics were influenced by social issues, particularly racism and Cuban struggles. They spent a lot of time in France where they were signed to a European music label but visited their home nation of Cuba often.
Their success aligns with their placement in Europe, able to take advantage of the resources unavailable to them in Cuba. After a decade of performing together, they disbanded in 2010.
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Title Image Source: Kotoviski photograph by Henryk Kotowski via Wikimedia Commons