Top 40 unforgettable Brazilian music artists of all time

Top 40 unforgettable Brazilian music artists of all time

Everyone knows that Brazil is the land of Samba, however, what some people don’t know is that Brazil is simply the land of many other different rhythms and musical styles. Over its 500 years of history, influenced by Africans, Europeans, and Indigenous people, Brazil developed its own unique musical styles such as samba, bossa nova, MPB, RAP, sertanejo, Brazilian rock, pagode, tropicalia, choro, maracatu, frevo, forró, axé, brega and others. The Brazilian music is full of mixed beats and pace and counts on the most talented singers, songwriters, and musicians highly respected not only in Brazil, but also in the world. This list of top 39 most unforgettable Brazilian music artists includes some, only some, of the most talented singers, songwriters and musicians of all time who have given Brazilian music a huge contribution to its soul. Let’s take a closer look at some of them. Do not forget to comment and share this post with your friends who also love Brazil and its Culture.


1) Antônio Carlos Jobim (1927 – 1994)



Songwriter, composer, arranger, singer, and pianist/guitarist. He was a primary force behind the creation of the bossa nova style, and his songs have been performed by many singers and instrumentalists within Brazil and internationally. Widely known as the composer of “Garota de Ipanema” (The Girl from Ipanema), one of the most recorded songs of all time, Jobim has left a large number of songs that are today included in jazz and pop standard repertoires.


2) João Gilberto (1931 – Present)


Singer and guitarist. His seminal recordings, including many songs by Antônio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes, established the new musical genre of Bossa nova in the late 1950s.


3) Dorival Caymmi (1914 – 2008)

O cantor e compositor baiano, Dorival Caymmi, de 94 anos, faleceu neste sábado, às 5h58m, de insuficiência renal, no apartamento da família


was a Brazilian singer, songwriter, actor, and painter active for more than 70 years beginning in 1933. He contributed to the birth of Brazil’s bossa nova movement, and several of his samba pieces, such as “Samba da Minha Terra”, “Doralice” and “Saudade da Bahia”, have become staples of Música Popular Brasileira.[1] Equally notable are his ballads celebrating the fishermen and women of Bahia, including “Promessa de Pescador”, “O Que É Que a Baiana Tem?”, and “Milagre”. Caymmi composed about 100 songs in his lifetime, and many of his works are now considered to be Brazilian classics. Both Brazilian and non-Brazilian musicians have covered his songs.


4) Vinicius de Moraes (1913 – 1980)


O Poetinha (the little poet), was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Son of Lydia Cruz de Moraes and Clodoaldo Pereira da Silva Moraes, he 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.


5) Luiz Gonzaga do Nascimento (1912 – 1989)


“The King of Baião” or “Gonzagão” , was a singer, songwriter, poet and composer. One of most influential figures of Brazilian popular music in the 20th century. He has been credited for having presented the rich universe of Northeastern musical genres to all of Brazil, having created the musical genre Baião, and has been called a “revolutionary” by Antônio Carlos Jobim. According to Caetano Veloso, he was the first significant cultural event with mass appeal in Brazil. Luiz Gonzaga received the Shell prize for Brazilian Popular Music in 1984, and was the fourth artist to receive this prize after Pixinguinha, Antônio Carlos Jobim and Dorival Caymmi.


6) Chico Buarque (1944 – Present)


is a singer, guitarist, composer, dramatist, writer and poet. He is best known for his music, which often includes social, economic and cultural commentary on Brazil and Rio de Janeiro in particular. Son of the academic Sérgio Buarque de Hollanda, Buarque lived in several locations throughout his childhood, though mostly in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Italy. He wrote and studied literature as a child and came to music through the bossa nova compositions of Tom Jobim and João Gilberto. He performed music throughout the 1960s as well as writing a play that was deemed dangerous by the Brazilian military dictatorship of the time.


7) Caetano Veloso (1942 – Present)


is a composer, singer, guitarist, writer, and political activist. Veloso first became known for his participation in the Brazilian musical movement Tropicalismo, which encompassed theatre, poetry and music in the 1960s, at the beginning of the Brazilian military dictatorship. He has remained a constant creative influence and best-selling performing artist and composer ever since. Veloso has won nine Latin Grammy Awards and two Grammy Awards. On November 14, 2012, Veloso was honored as the Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year.


8) Elis Regina (1945 – 1982)


was a singer of Brazilian popular music. She became nationally renowned in 1965, after singing “Arrastão” (composed by Edu Lobo and Vinícius de Moraes) in the first edition of TV Excelsior festival song contest, and soon joined O Fino da Bossa, a television program on TV Record. Elis was noted for her vocalization, as well as for her personal interpretation and performances in shows.


9) Gilberto Gil (1942 – Present)


is a singer, guitarist, and songwriter, known for both his musical innovation and political commitment. From 2003 to 2008, he served as Brazil’s Minister of Culture in the administration of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Gil’s musical style incorporates an eclectic range of influences, including Rock music, Brazilian genres including samba, African music, and reggae.


10) Maria Bethânia (1946 – Present)


is a MPB singer. Born in Santo Amaro, Bahia, she started her career in Rio de Janeiro in 1964 with the show “Opinião” (“Opinion”). Due to its popularity, with performances all over the country, and the popularity of her 1965 single “Carcará”, the artist became a star in Brazil. Bethânia is sister of the singer-songwriter Caetano Veloso and of the writer-songwriter Mabel Velloso. The singer has released 50 studio albums in 47 years of career, and is among the 10 best-selling music artists in Brazil, having sold more than 26 million records.


11) Milton Nascimento (1942 – Present)

Milton Nascimento

is a prominent singer-songwriter and guitarist. Nascimento is famous for his falsetto and tonal range, as well for highly acclaimed songs such as “Maria, Maria”, “Canção da América” (“Song from America”/”Unencounter”), “Travessia”, “Bailes da Vida”, and “Coração de Estudante” (“Student’s Heart”). While his reputation within Brazil was firmly established with his Clube da Esquina works, Nascimento’s international breakthrough came with his appearance on jazz saxophonist Wayne Shorter’s 1974 album Native Dancer. This led to widespread acclaim, and collaborations with stars such as Paul Simon, Cat Stevens, George Duke and Quincy Jones and the band Earth, Wind and Fire. Angelus (1994) features appearances by Pat Metheny, Ron Carter, Herbie Hancock, Jack DeJohnette, Nana Vasconcelos, Jon Anderson, James Taylor, and Peter Gabriel. Through his friendship with guitarist Warren Cuccurullo, Nascimento came to work with the pop rock band Duran Duran in 1993. Nascimento co-wrote and performed the song “Breath After Breath”, featured on the band’s 1993 album Duran Duran. He also performed with the band in concert when they toured in Brazil in support of that album.


12) Nara Leão (1942 – 1989)

Nara Leao

was a bossa nova and MPB (popular Brazilian music) singer and occasional actress. Her husband was Carlos Diegues, director and writer of Bye Bye Brasil. In the mid-1960s, the institution of military dictatorship in Brazil led her to sing increasingly political lyrics. Her show, Opinião, reflected her political beliefs, and she had largely switched to political music by this point. In 1964 she even spoke against bossa nova as a movement, calling it “alienating.” In 1968 she appeared on the album Tropicália: ou Panis et Circenses, performing “Lindonéia.”


13) Roberto Carlos (1941 – Present)

Roberto Carlos

is a Grammy Award-winning Brazilian singer and composer, who has achieved a great deal of success and recognition in his 50-year career, also known as King of Latin Music or simply The King. Most of his songs are written in partnership with his friend, also singer and songwriter Erasmo Carlos. Roberto Carlos has sold over 120 million albums around the world. He is considered one of the most influential artists in Brazil during the 1960s, being cited as a source of inspiration by many artists and bands up to the 1980s.


14) Erasmo Carlos (1941 – Present)

Erasmo Carlos

is a Brazilian singer and songwriter, most closely associated with his friend and longtime collaborator Roberto Carlos (no relation). Together, they have created many chart hits including “É Proibido Fumar”.
A core member of the Jovem Guarda (“Young Guard”) scene of 1960s Brazilian pop-rock, Erasmo often appeared on television, in magazines and feature films with fellow teen idols Roberto Carlos and Wanderléa.


15) Cazuza (1958 – 1990)


was a composer and singer, born in Rio de Janeiro. Along with Raul Seixas, Renato Russo and Os Mutantes, Cazuza is considered one of the best exponents of Brazilian rock music. In 9 years of career, he sold more than 5 million albums and achieved 11 number one singles and 18 Top 10 singles in Brazil.


16) Renato Russo (1960 – 1996)

Renato Russo

was a singer and songwriter. His first band was a punk rock band called “Aborto Elétrico” (Electric Abortion). The band then broke up and split in two different ones: “Capital Inicial” and “Legião Urbana”. He was the formal founder and leader of Legião Urbana.


17) Raul Seixas (1945 – 1989)

Raul Seixas

was a rock composer, singer, songwriter and producer. He is sometimes called the “Father of Brazilian Rock” and “Maluco Beleza”, the last one roughly translated as “Crazy Cool”. He was born in Salvador (Bahia), Brazil, and died of pancreatitis in São Paulo. Every year on Seixas’ birthday, legions of fans, including hundreds of impersonators (many even changing their last name to Seixas as a sign of idolatry), throw a parade in his honor in downtown São Paulo.


18) Baby Consuelo (1952 – Present)

Baby Consuelo

performer, singer and composer. Although she is known for her energetic performances and compositions in Pop, Baby has also composed for the samba and MPB scene. Early in her career she was a member of Novos Baianos, and was at once married to Brazilian guitarist and bandmate Pepeu Gomes. Her 1985 album, “Sem Pecado e Sem Juízo” sold more than 1 million copies.


19) Ney Matogrosso (1941 – Present)

Ney Matogrosso

is a Brazilian singer who is distinguished for his uncommon countertenor voice. He was ranked by Rolling Stone as the third-largest Brazilian singer of all time, and by the same magazine as the 31st-largest Brazilian music artist of all time.


20) Gal Costa (1945 – Present)

Gal Costa

is a Brazilian singer of popular music. Costa debuted her professional career on the night of August 22, 1964 on the concert “Nós, por exemplo,” where she performed alongside Veloso, Gil, Maria Bethânia and Tom Zé, among others. The concert inaugurated the Vila Velha Theatre in her hometown. During the same year, she also performed in Nova Bossa Velha, Velha Bossa Nova, at the same place and with the same singing partners. She then left Salvador to live in the house of her cousin Nívea in Rio de Janeiro, following the footsteps of Bethânia, whose concert “Opinião” had become a huge hit on the town.


21) Rita Lee (1947 – Present)

Rita Lee

is a rock singer and composer. Lee continues to be a popular figure in Brazilian entertainment. She has sold more than 60 million albums worldwide. In 1966 Lee formed the band Os Mutantes with Arnaldo Baptista and Sérgio Dias. The band released five albums between 1968 and 1972. In that time, Lee had also released her first two solo works, although these records were produced with fellow members of Os Mutantes. When the band reformed in 2006, she refused to join, calling the reunion an attempt to “earn cash to pay for geriatry”.


22) Tim Maia (1942 – 1998)

Tim Maia

was a musician known for his iconoclastic, ironic, outspoken, and humorous musical style. Maia contributed to Brazilian music within a wide variety of musical genres, including soul, funk, bossa nova, disco, romantic ballads, pop, rock, jazz, baião and MPB.


23) Geraldo Azevedo (1945 – Present)

Geraldo Azevedo

is a singer and guitarist. He is famous for his contributions to the Brazilian Popular Music scene, especially his partnerships with Alceu Valença and Zé Ramalho.


24) Tom Zé (1936 – Present)

Tom Zé

is a songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and composer who was influential in the Tropicália movement of 1960s Brazil. After the peak of the Tropicália period, Zé went into relative obscurity: it was only in the 1990s, when the musician and label head David Byrne discovered an album recorded by Zé many years earlier, that he returned to performing and releasing new material.


25) Zé Ramalho (1949 – Present)

Ze Ramalho

is a composer and performer. Zé Ramalho has collaborated with various major Brazilian musicians, including Vanusa, Geraldo Azevedo and Alceu Valença to name a few. Ze Ramalho is also the first cousin of Elba Ramalho, a well known Brazilian composer and performer.23) Alceu Valenca


26) Elba Ramalho (1951 – Present)

Elba Ramalho

is a songwriter, performer, poet and actress. She is sometimes called “The Queen of Forró”.
In addition to her successful solo career, Elba has collaborated with a number of well-established Brazilian acts, including Alceu Valença and her first cousin Zé Ramalho.


27) Alceu Valença (1946 – Present)

Alceu Valença

is a composer, writer, performer, actor, and poet. Alceu Valença was born in countryside Pernambuco, Northeast Brazil. He is considered the most successful artist in achieving an aesthetic balance between traditional northeastern Brazilian music and a broad range of electronic sounds and effects from pop music. One can find traces of maracatu, coco and “repentes de viola” (improvising fast-paced Brazilian folk music) in most of his songs. Alceu was able to utilize the electric guitar the electric bass, and lately even a synthesizer was added to his broad scope of musical instruments.


28) Arnaldo Antunes (1960 – Present)

Arnaldo Antunes

is a writer and composer. He began as a member of the band Aguilar e Banda Performática in the late 1970s. For most of the 1980s he was a member of the rock band Titãs. After 1992 he had six solo albums. Since 1992 he has been an award winning poet, but he was first published in 1983. He is noted abroad for collaborations with Marisa Monte.


29) Marisa Monte (1967 – Present)

Marisa Monte

is a popular singer. As of 2011, she has sold 10 million albums worldwide. While classically trained in opera singing, she grew up surrounded by the sounds of the Portela samba school, and combines diverse influences into her music. She became a hybrid of MPB diva and pop rock performer. While most of her music is in the style of modern MPB, she has also recorded traditional samba and folk tunes, as well and songs performed by Marvin Gaye, Lou Reed and George Harrison. Much of her work has been in collaboration with musicians/songwriters Carlinhos Brown, Arnaldo Antunes, and Nando Reis, and producer Arto Lindsay. She has also worked with foreign artists such as Laurie Anderson, David Byrne, Ryuichi Sakamoto, and Julieta Venegas. She has performed live in the United States in such venues as The House of Blues.


30) Carlinhos Brown (1962 – Present)

Carlinhos Brown

is a musician, songwriter and record producer from Salvador, Bahia. His musical style blends Tropicália, reggae, and traditional Brazilian percussion. He has also been nominated for an Academy Award for his musical contributions in Rio. He founded Timbalada and Tribalistas, and is also a solo artist.


31) Ivete Sangalo (1972 – Present)

Ivete Sangalo

is a Latin Grammy Award-winning Brazilian Axé and Pop singer, songwriter, and occasional actress and television show host. She is one of the most popular and best-selling Brazilian female singers of the present, with six albums released with “Banda Eva”, and seven more albums in a solo career. Sangalo is most often recognized by her powerful voice, charisma and live performances. Her music is also very popular in Portugal. She has received 14 nominations for Latin Grammy Awards alongside her career.


32) Seu Jorge (1970 – Present)

Seu Jorge

is a musician, singer/songwriter and actor. He was raised in a favela in what is now known as the city of Belford Roxo. Belford Roxo is located north of city of Rio de Janeiro in Rio de Janeiro state in the Baixada Fluminense region. When he was 19, he became homeless and remained homeless for 3 years, nonetheless, his musical talent flourished when he was living in the streets and he became known in the “favelas”. Due to its proximity, Belford Roxo is considered part of the larger metropolitan area of Rio de Janeiro. He is considered by many a renewer of Brazilian pop samba. Seu Jorge cites samba schools, and American soul singer Stevie Wonder as major musical influences.


33) Simone (1973 – Present)


is a Brazilian singer and a major performer of Música Popular Brasileira (MPB) who has recorded more than 31 albums.


34) Zeca Baleiro (1966 – Present)

Zeca Baleiro

is a MPB artist. One of his most famous songs is “Salão de Beleza”, which was featured on Putumayo World Music’s Reggae Around the World compilation. Along with being a solo artist, he has also worked with guitarist Pedro Joia. Hailing from the state of Maranhão, in northeastern Brazil, Zeca – short for José (his name is Jose Ribamar) – grew up with music. He then went to a university to study Agronomy and was given the nickname “Baleiro” (“candyman”), because of his love for candy.


35) Cassia Eller (1962 – 2001)

Cassia Eller

was a Brazilian musician. She performed a fusion of rock and MPB. Eller became known for her brash public image, as she occasionally wore a mohawk and bared her breasts on television shows. She posed nude for the artwork of her breakout release, 1999′s “Com Você… Meu Mundo Ficaria Completo”. The album went gold and earned Eller a Latin Grammy Award nomination for Best Brazilian Rock Album. She received another Latin Grammy Award nomination for her cover of “O Segundo Sol,” originally by Nando Reis. The song was included on her 2001 album Acustico MTV, a live recording for MTV Brasil similar to MTV Unplugged, which was also certified gold.


36) Nando Reis (1963 – Present)

Nando Reis

is a Brazilian musician and producer, best known as the former bassist and lead singer of Brazilian rock band Titãs and for his successful solo career, with his own band called Os Infernais. He has also produced a few albums, including some related to Cássia Eller, who has made several significant partnerships with him, and Marisa Monte. In 2012, Nando Reis was listed among the top ten Brazilian artists at the ECAD list of artists who profited the most from copyright in the first semester of that year.


37) Zélia Duncan (1964 – Present)

Zelia Duncan

is a Brazilian singer and composer. Zélia was born in Niterói, in the state of Rio de Janeiro. She started her professional career in 1981 after she won a contest organized by the Fundação Nacional de Artes (National Foundation of Arts). When she was 22 years old, she returned to Rio. Using the name “Zélia Cristina”, she first performed as a soloist in Botanic in Rio de Janeiro. In 1990 she launched the LP “Outra Luz” (“Another Light”), and she began performing in cities like São Paulo, Florianópolis, and Porto Alegre and participating in tv shows.


38) Ana Carolina (1974 – Present)

Ana Carolina

is a singer, composer, and musician. Her musical influence comes from the crib, her grandmother used to sing on the radio, and her great aunt and uncle played percussion, piano, cello, and violin. She grew up hearing Brazilian musical icons such as Chico Buarque, João Bosco, Maria Bethânia as well as international icons such as Nina Simone, Björk, and Alanis Morissette. Her second album, Ana Rita Joana Iracema e Carolina was success, released in 2001. The album’s title is in reference to songs by the singer Chico Buarque, one of Ana Carolina’s idols. This album contained hits like “Quem de nós dois” and “Ela é bamba”.


39) Daniela Mercury (1965 – Present)

Daniela Merury

is a axé, samba-reggae and MPB singer, songwriter and record producer. Since her breakthrough, Mercury has become one of the best known Brazilian female singers, selling over 20 million albums worldwide


40) Maria Rita (1977 – Present)

Maria Rita

a singer. She is the daughter of famed pianist/arranger César Camargo Mariano and the late Brazilian singing legend Elis Regina and sister to Pedro Mariano and music producer João Marcelo Bôscoli. Her namesake is family friend and famed Brazilian rock legend Rita Lee. Maria Rita majored in Latin American studies and communications at New York University, and worked as a journalist as well.


  • Hello there,
    I am Gabi, model, actress and singer. Hashtags on Facebook, Instagram: #Gabi #GenuinLatinGroove and #GLG “Genuine Latin Groove” playlist is my temporary band. We are playing Brazilian and Latin music in general. I am the singer of the band and actually the most enthusiastic about Brazilian music.
    I would like to share in Europe the music I like from Brazil and to connect with Brazilian artist to help me to learn, improve. I do not speak Portuguese, but the songs are the way I am connecting with the language. I am dancing Samba and I would like to learn Kizomba.
    My dream is to perform with some famous Brazilian singer once the songs I learned, here are 2 songs i sing 🙂

    My dream is to live in Brazil for some time to absorb more about the culture.
    Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/GabiKarvak
    Instagram: @karvakg

    • Meyre Santos

      Hi, Gabi. As a Brazilian I feel very happy with your comments and interest in Brazil and Brazilian music and culture. I can help you with pronunciation and culture related to the songs you want to learn/sing. Dancing samba and being an artist definitely is a great help in achieving your dream. You mentioned you want to live in Brazil. Learning the language is important if you want to live there. I can help you learn the language as well. Visit my website and send an email. I am also on Facebook if you want me to call you and see how I can help you.

  • ermonski

    Where is Sepultura?

  • Daniel Aguilera

    Wow you totally forgot about Jorge Ben! He would easily make the Top 10.

    • John Doe

      I totally agree

  • Fred Ribeiro

    Please, you need to add Humberto Gessinger (Engenheiros do Hawaii) to your list!!!