Aldir Blanc, lyricist who pushed Samba's boundaries, dies at 73
The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Saturday, July 13, 2024

Aldir Blanc, lyricist who pushed Samba's boundaries, dies at 73
An undated photo via the Menes family of Aldir Blanc, a prominent Brazilian lyricist and opponent of the country’s junta whose songs reflected the hardscrabble lives of the working-class neighborhoods where he lived. Blanc, who helped develop a new form of samba that delved into social issues and politics during the restrictive years of Brazil’s military dictatorship, died on May 4, 2020, of the novel coronavirus at a hospital in Rio, according to his stepdaughter. He was 73. Via Mendes family via The New York Times.

by Stephen Kurczy

NEW YORK (NYT NEWS SERVICE).- Aldir Blanc wanted to be a doctor and was studying psychiatry in Rio de Janeiro. But he also dabbled in music, and in 1970 he had a chance encounter with a guitarist named João Bosco that changed the course of his life.

That meeting led to a collaboration that would reimagine the boundaries of samba and help turn Blanc into one of the most revered lyricists of his generation.

The two men began working together, with Bosco writing the music and Blanc the words, and helped develop a new form of samba that delved into social issues and politics during the restrictive years of Brazil’s military dictatorship. Blanc became adept at skirting government censors through allegory and wordplay.

One of the duo’s most famous songs, “O Bêbado e a Equilibrista” (“The Drunk and the Tightrope Walker”), written in 1978, was ostensibly about a Charlie Chaplin film.

The song subtly criticized Brazil’s government and called for the peaceful return of political refugees. Sung soulfully by Elis Regina, it became a kind of amnesty anthem and a popular call for the reinstitution of democracy.

“Crazy and drunk in his bowler hat,” went one lyric, “he was behaving like an irreverent brat at nighttime in Brazil, my Brazil.”

Blanc died May 4 at a hospital in Rio. He was 73. His stepdaughter Patrícia de Sá Freire Ferreira said the cause was COVID-19.

“I want to sing our songs as long as I have the strength,” Bosco, who became one of Brazil’s greatest guitarists, wrote on Facebook after his death. “A person only dies when their legacy dies. And I’m here to make sure the spirit of Aldir lives on. I and all the Brazilians touched by his genius.”

A bearish man with long white hair and a bushy beard, Blanc was considered a kind of Brazilian Bob Dylan, his songs reflecting the hardscrabble lives and language of the working-class neighborhoods where he lived, according to Hugo Sukman, author of “Parallel Stories — 50 Years of Brazilian Music” (2011).

An only child, Aldir Blanc Mendes was born Sept. 2, 1946, in Rio. His father, Alceu Blanc Mendes, was a public servant. His mother, Helena Aguiar Mendes, was a homemaker.

He was raised in the northern area of the city, surrounded by a rich samba culture in which he would become a revered figure. For many years, a famous samba bar in Copacabana called Bip Bip has played only Blanc’s songs on his birthday every year.

Blanc studied psychiatry at the Federal University of the State of Rio de Janeiro. After graduating in 1971, he worked for three years as a psychiatrist at a hospital, an experience that he would later say informed his lyrics.

In 1972, he married Ana Lucia de Souza Blanc Mendes. The couple separated in 1985 and later divorced. Blanc married Mari Lúcia Chaves de Sá Freire in 1988. Along with de Sá Freire Ferreira, his stepdaughter, he is survived by his wife; two daughters, Isabel de Souza Blanc Mendes and Mariana de Souza Blanc Mendes; another stepdaughter, Tatiana de Sá Freire Ferreira; and five grandchildren.

From his library in Rio’s working-class suburb Tijuca, surrounded by tens of thousands of books and music albums overflowing from wall-to-wall shelves, Blanc wrote furiously. Over his lifetime he wrote more than 600 songs, including more than 50 for nationally televised soap operas.

He also wrote 10 books, the best known being “Rua dos Artistas e Arredores” (“The Road of Artists and Its Surroundings”), published in 1978, and “Porta de Tinturaria” (“The Dyer’s Door”), published in 1981, collections of short stories known as “crônicas” that blended fiction with reality. He also co-wrote a book on samba with Sukman, who is now working on a feature-length documentary about Blanc called “Ourives do Palavreado” (“Goldsmith of Profanities”), based on recent interviews with him.

© 2020 The New York Times Company

Today's News

September 2, 2020

Ashmolean uncovers painting from Rembrandt's workshop

Clyfford Still: The Late Works catalog investigates the artist's late works in painting and drawing

This unsung genius has a solo show in Georgia

City of London reviews monuments linked to slavery

Gandhi's iconic glasses sell for $340,000 in UK

Tom Joyce joins Gerald Peters Contemporary

Rothschilds' portrait of young Elizabethan adventurer falsely accused of being part of the Gunpowder Plot comes to aucti

Roanoke's 'lost colony' was never lost, new book says

The Chinese Art Market: Christie's Education announces virtual international academic conference

Joe Ruby, a creator of 'Scooby-Doo,' is dead at 87

Aldir Blanc, lyricist who pushed Samba's boundaries, dies at 73

The 1938 Superman comic book that helped take down a cheap imitator called Wonder Man heads to auction

There'll be a theater season. But how and where and when?

Bruneau & Co. announces results of Estate Fine Art & Antiques Auction

Adirondack Experience Museum announces building project to create new space for fine art collection

Fairuz: the Arab world's most celebrated living voice

Up on the roof, flesh and blood dancers move and connect

Whimsical, romantic exhibit opening at Missoula Art Museum

Guild Hall announces outdoor installation by inaugural community-artist-in-residence Monica Banks

New Orleans Museum of Art unveils commissioned work by Roberto Lugo

Petzel appoints Ricky Lee as Director of Communications

Downtown Grand Hotel & Casino's new gallery tower to feature expansive, interactive art program

The Museum of Contemporary Art Tucson presents a new commission from Jibade-Khalil Huffman

Tips on How to Get a Job for College Students

Helpful Tips for Storing Art Properly

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez
Writer: Ofelia Zurbia Betancourt

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. Hommage
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful