Nara Leão: Muse of the Bossa Nova

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Nara Leão
Nara Leão (pronounced LEE-yay-yo) was a celebrated Brazilian bossa nova and Tropicália pop singer in the 1960s. Her father had given her a guitar at age 12, and as a teenager in the late 1950s, she became friends with many of the singer-songwriters who were pioneering the bossa nova. The list included including Roberto Menescal, Carlos Lyra, Ronaldo Bôscoli, João Gilberto, Vinicius de Moraes and Antônio Carlos Jobim. Many of them rehearsed in her parents' home in Rio de Janeiro's Copacabana district in 1958. As a result, she became known as the “muse of the bossa nova."

Leão married Brazilian director Carlos Diegues and gave up music to move to Paris in the 1970s to be with her family. In 1979, when she learned she had an inoperable brain tumor, she returned to singing and recording with a ferocity to complete as many projects as possible. She died in 1989.

I have most of Leão's albums and I can tell you that she never made a bad record. Here are seven clips:

Here's Leão with Roberto Menescal in Japan singing Samba de Uma Nota So and Samba do Avião...



Here they are on O barquinho, O pato and Manhã de carnaval...



Here they are on Dindi...



Here's Leão with Antonio Carlos Jobim singing Desafinado...



Here's Part 1 of an 18-minute segment for TV with a bunch of her live performances...



Here's Part 2...



And here's Leão's recording of Desafinado...

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This story appears courtesy of JazzWax by Marc Myers.
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