Caetano Emanuel Viana Teles Veloso, known as Caetano Veloso, is a Grammy Award-winning Brazilian composer and singer, called "One of the greatest songwriters of the century", whose voice "carries an abiding tenderness" and is sometimes considered the Bob Dylan of Brazil.
Veloso was born in Santo Amaro da Purificação, Bahia, the fifth of the seven children born to José Teles Veloso ("Seu Zeca") (1901-1983) and Claudionor Viana Teles Veloso ("Dona Canô'") (1907-). He chose the name for his baby sister (Veloso's parents's sixth child), named after a famous song of the time (18 June 1946) by Nelson Gonçalves. Maria Bethânia, his sister, preceded him to fame as a singer in the mid-1960s.
He began his career singing Latin pop with a bossa nova edge, and he has cited his greatest musical influences from his early period as João Gilberto and Dorival Caymmi. (João Gilberto would say later about Caetano's contribution that it added an intellectual dimension to Brazilian popular music.) With such musical collaborators Gilberto Gil, Gal Costa, Tom Zé, and Os Mutantes, and a strong influence of the later work of The Beatles, Veloso developed Tropicalismo, which fused Brazilian pop with rock and roll and avant garde music resulting in a more international, psychedelic, and socially aware sound.
Veloso's politically active stance, unapologetically leftist, earned him the enmity of Brazil's military dictatorship which ruled until 1985; his songs were frequently censored, and some were banned. Veloso was also alienated from the socialist left in Brazil because of his acceptance and integration of non-nationalist influences (like rock and roll) in his music. Veloso and Gilberto Gil spent several months in jail for "anti-government activity" in 1968 and eventually exiled themselves to London. Along with many other artists Caetano was living each verse of Geraldo Vandré's political hymn: Yet they make of a flower their strongest refrain, And believe flowers to defeat guns.
Caetano Veloso's work upon his return in 1972 was often characterized by frequent merger not only of international styles, but of half-forgotten Brazilian folkloric styles and rhythms as well. In particular, his celebration of the Afro-Brazilian culture of Bahia can be seen as the precursor of such Afro-centric groups as Timbalada.
In the 1980s, Veloso's popularity outside Brazil grew, especially in Israel, Greece, Portugal, France and Africa. In the United States, his records, such as O estrangeiro, produced by Arto Lindsay helped gain him a larger audience. By 2004, he was one of the most respected and prolific international pop stars, with more than fifty recordings available, including songs in soundtracks of movies such as Michelangelo Antonioni's Eros, Pedro Almodóvar's Hable con Ella (Talk to Her), and Frida, for which he performed at the 75th Academy Awards but did not win. In 2002 Veloso published an account of his early years and the Tropicália movement, Tropical Truth: A Story of Music and Revolution in Brazil. In his albums he has included surprising personal versions of well-known Latin-American songs, among them some by Venezuelan folk songwriter Simón Díaz.