Vinicius de Moraes, nicknamed O Poetinha (the little poet), born Marcus Vinicius da Cruz de Mello Moraes in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, of his parents, Lydia Cruz de Moraes and Clodoaldo Pereira da Silva Moraes, Vinicius was a seminal figure in contemporary Brazilian music. As a poet, he wrote lyrics for a great number of songs that became all-time classics. He was also a composer of Bossa nova, a playwright, a diplomat and, as an interpreter of his own songs, he left several important albums.
From a musical family, Vinicius began writing poetry early in life. At the age of 14, he became friends with the brothers Paulo and Haroldo Tapajós, and with the latter composed "Loura ou Morena", his first song. In 1929, Vinicius enrolled in law school in Rio de Janeiro. Starting in 1932, he wrote lyrics for ten songs that were recorded by the Tapajós brothers. Upon completing his studies, he published his first two collections of poetry: Caminho Para a Distância (1933) and Forma e Exegese. Later, he became a cinema censor for the health and education cabinet (1935) and wrote his third book Ariana, a Mulher (1936).
Heading to England (1938) with a British government scholarship to study literature at Oxford University, he wrote Novos Poemas. At that time he was married by proxy. In 1941, amidst the winds of World War II, Vinicius returned to Rio and began to write film reviews and other pieces for newspapers and magazines. Two years later, he joined Brazil's diplomatic service and released his book Cinco Elegias. In 1946, he was sent to Los Angeles as vice-consul on his first diplomatic assignment, and released Poemas, Sonetos e Baladas.
In 1950, Vinicius returned to Brazil upon his father's death. His first samba (composed along with musician Ant'nio Maria), was Quando Tu Passas por Mim, released in 1953, a year in which he moved to France as second secretary to Brazil's embassy.
The next year he wrote lyrics for some of Cláudio Santoro's chamber music pieces, and also staged his play Orfeu da Conceição, (later adapted to cinema as Black Orpheus (Orfeu Negro, by Marcel Camus, director/writer, France, 1959)). With only a draft version, in 1954, Vinicius' original play won the contest commemorating the Fourth Centennial Celebration of the founding of the City of São Paulo. Later in 1956, during the production of his play, he was introduced to a relatively unknown pianist, Antonio Carlos Jobim, who was commissioned with writing the music for the play. Jobim composed the music for Se Todos Fossem Iguais a Você, Um Nome de Mulher, and several other songs included in the production.