Brazilian samba singer Elza Soares dies at 91

She won BBC title: Singer of the Millennium

Published in 21/01/2022 - 08:59 By Alana Gandra - Repórter da Agência Brasil - Rio de Janeiro 

Brazilian music has lost one of its most representative voices. Singer and songwriter Elza Soares died on Thursday (Jan. 20), at her home in Rio de Janeiro, of natural causes. She was 91.

“The Brazilian music icon was considered one of the greatest singers in the world. She won the title of "Singer of the Millennium" in a BBC London competition. Elza had an apotheotic, intense life, which moved the world with her voice, her strength, and her determination. The beloved and eternal Elza has gone to rest but she will forever remain in musical history, and in our hearts and the thousands of fans around the world. Just like Elza Soares wanted, she sang until the end.”, family members said on the singer’s Facebook account.

On that same date, in 1983, football player Mané Garrincha, who was the singer's husband, died.

Life and work

Elza Gomes da Conceição was born on June 23, 1930, in a modest Rio de Janeiro household, in Moça Bonita slum, currently Vila Vintém.

Elza Soares began her artistic career in Rádio Tupi program Calouros em Desfile, by Ary Barroso. Later on, she was hired as a singer at Orquestra Garam de Bailes. In 1960 she released her first album “Se Acaso Você Chegasse”, and in 1962 her second one “A Bossa Negra”.

In 1962, Elza sang at the World Cup in Chile, where she met Louis Armstrong, who proposed her to carve out a career in the USA. That same year she met her future husband Garrincha, with whom she had a troubled relationship.

Elsa Soares became famous singing samba, before diversifying to other genres like jazz, hip hop, and MPB. She released 36 albums in her career. In 1999, she won the title of “Brazilian Singer of the Millennium” in a BBC London competition. She was also in the list of the 100 greatest Brazilian music voices released by Rolling Stone Brasil magazine.

The singer has also won several awards such as three Latin Grammy Awards and two WME Awards. In 2020, she was honored by Mocidade Independente de Padre Miguel samba school.


Translation: Mário Nunes -  Edition: Fábio Massalli

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