Angenor de Oliveira - "Cartola"

Cartola did not exist.
It was a dream that we had.
- Nelson Sargento -

Cartola (top hat) was born on October 11 of 1908
in Rio de Janeiro, in a neighborhood called
Catete. He got the nick name because he used
a "coco hat" while working as a construction worker,
so the cement did not dirty his hair.

It was 1919 when Sebastião, Aida and their
seven children arrived at the Buraco Quente,
(Hot hole, a Mangueira's hill district).

He was little, but clever, says his friend
Carlos Cachaça, whom was living there
already and is still alive.

Cartola in an interview said: Then, in my eyes,
in Mangueira it was only about fifty "barracos."
(nick name for house, due to the precariousness of its
construction). And he was probably right.

He and other fellows, founded
the G.R.E.S Estação Primeira de Mangueira.

His contributions to Brazilian
Music are unmeasurable.

His harmonic conceptions, melodies and verses
are simply beautiful. Music masters like Villa Lobos
and Stokowsky went to Buraco Quente listen to his music.

Due to prejudice, against "samba people", specially
black "samba people", he was never financially successful.
He had to work many different jobs, and in the mid 60s,
a journalist by the name of Stanislaw Ponte Preta found
him washing cars in Ipanema, and asked: Are you Cartola?
Yes, was the answer. He got amused, and started to help
him and he became more popular.

He recorded his first album in 1974.
Yet his life was not only sadness.

Between the mid 60's until his death in 1980 he got to
enjoy a little bit of popularity (no money though),
and could find out that everybody who had a chance
to listen to his songs or to meet him, loved him.

Through his songs the Brazilian people could
understand a little bit more about life, and how
to deal with it in a poetic way.

He left this world leaving us his songs and his love,
and we thank him, and love him back.

He ignored the injustice, because he was too busy
dealing with what was in his heart.

I guess he had enough wisdom to know how ahead
he was in time, how important it would be to Brazilian
people someday learn the message that African spirits
wanted him to spread in that far away land.

Now, the whole world can.

A poesia de Cartola

Read a full biography of Cartola, along with many
interesting facts about his life and times and interviews
in the book "Os tempos idos," written by Marilia T. Barboza da Silva
and Arthur L. de Oliveira Filho.

In each of the pictures on this page,
there is a sample of Cartola's music.

Also visit

Women Afro Brazilian Connection Images of Brazilian Music 20 Exemplary cases Postcards from Bahia


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