In her native Brazil, Rosa Passos is known and loved as "a feminine João Gilberto." For a singer/songwriter who carries the soulful cool of bossa nova into a new age, there can be no higher compliment. Mingling the classics of Gilberto, Jobim, Barroso and other masters of Brazilian song with her own enchanting works, Passos sings in a sweet, warm, totally-in-tune voice that the Los Angeles Times has hailed as "sounding a bit like the legendary Elis Regina but with the rhythmic articulation of Ella Fitzgerald."
That voice and that style, which Brazilian fans have known for years, are pleasures international audiences are now getting to know a little better. Rosa Passos signed to record for Sony Classical/Odyssey in 2004, and her label debut Amorosa features songs included on João Gilberto's classic 1977 album Amoroso, along with other titles closely associated with him, as well as a Gershwin favorite ("'S Wonderful"), the sensuous Spanish classic "Besame Mucho" and her own tribute to Gilberto, "Essa é pr'o João." Plans are underway for an international tour, to follow the album's release.
The new collaboration with Sony Classical/Odyssey and the release of Amorosa come in the wake of two powerful collaborations Passos enjoyed with cellist Yo-Yo Ma for the label, on the double-Grammy-winning Obrigado Brazil and its sequel Yo-Yo Ma Obrigado Brazil Live in Concert. (Jazz clarinetist Paquito D'Rivera and percussionist Cyro Baptista, who also appeared on these recordings, join a gallery of stellar Brazilian jazz musicians as Passos's guest artists on Amorosa.) Following the release of Obrigado Brazil, the singer/songwriter joined Ma and the other musicians from the recording on a critically acclaimed world tour.
"Perhaps best of all, singer/guitarist Rosa Passos's sweet-voiced renderings of Jobim were marvelous updatings of classic bossa nova, superbly demonstrating the subtle interplay between the voice and guitar this is the foundation of this enduringly appealing genre," the Los Angeles Times wrote, when the Obrigado Brazil tour played the Hollywood Bowl.
Rosa Passos grew up surrounded by music in the city of Salvador, in the Brazilian state of Bahia. Inspired by João Gilberto and Antonio Carlos Jobim - the godfathers of bossa nova - she switched from piano to guitar and began writing her own material as a teenager. Passos's songs (written with her longtime lyricist Fernando de Oliveira) appeared on her first recording in 1979. After taking several years off to devote herself to her husband and children, she returned to performing and recording in 1985, jump-starting a career that has been on the upswing ever since.