Zé Ketti, was without a doubt one of the most brilliant Brazilian music samba composers
of the 20th century.
He had hundreds of songs recorded by Brazilian artists appeared in several feature movies,
participated in one of the most important musical production ever made in Brazil, the play
His songs always talked about the life of the Afro Brazilian people, their feelings, struggles
culture, and social problems. (prejudice, poverty, etc..)
"Why Zé Ketti?
Because my mother was left alone to raise me, and she had to work as a maid, and couldn't
bring children to her jobs. So I stayed in the house of relatives. I stayed by the window
watching the other kids play, and I would fly a kite from the window. Then my mother would
come back and my relatives would tell her- 'Zé was really quite! (quieto, in Portuguese)
Oh, how that Zé is quite! Look at how quite Zé is, Zé quiet... and it ended up Zé Ketti.
The k in Ketti, is because it was giving good luck, Kubitscheck, Kruchov, Kennedy.
But now, I think my good luck is gone." -éZ Ketti
Rio de janeiro, september 16 of 1921, in the city of Inhauma, the boy José Flores de Jesus,
or better yet Zé Ketti was being born for the happiness of his father, a sailor who played the
Taken by Geraldo Cunha, composer and partner of Carlos Cachça, Zé was introduced in the
G.R.E.S. Estação Primeira de Mangueira, at the age of 13, having then the first contact with the
music made in Mangueira and started to frequently go to rehersals of the prestigious Samba School.
He then moved from Piedade to Bento Ribeiro and consequently started to hang out at
Portela Samba school taken by the composer and at the time, president of the school (Portela),
Armando Santos. He then started to participate in the parades in the composer's section,
he also started to write his firat sambas which he wouldn't share with anyone, only doing so at
the age of 17, when he became part of the scene at the "Café Nicei", a bohemian redoubt in the
downtown area of Rio de Janeiro.
From 1940 to 1943, Zé Ketti was forced to be away from the musical environment due to be
serving as a soldier in the Military Police Corporation.
Being a soldier was one of the professions of the composer who liked soccer, father of
"many children" and who enjoys to fish for crabs. Zé Ketti worked also as a grafter, a shoe
repairman, a manson, and a street sweeper.
In 1946, Zé Ketti had , for the first time, the happiness of having one of his sambas recorded.
That samba was "Tio Sam no Samba", which he wrote with Felisterto Martins, recorded by the
group "Vocalistas Tropicais." In the same year, singer Ciro Monterio recorded for the carnival
"Vivo Bem" which was written with Ari Monteiro.
In the 50's Linda batista recorded "Amor Passageiro", and ãoJamel recorded "Leviana".
In 1954, he disassociated himself from Portela due to accusations in which the authenticity
of his compositions were doubted, that made him transfer himself to "União Vaz Lobo".
There it was released "A Voz do Morro", recorded in 1955 by Jorge Goulart.
This samba gave Zé Ketti the award of the most popular song of 1956 Carnival.
In 1958, brazilian movie director Nelson Pereira dos Santos, used Zé Ketti's sambas in the
soundtrack of his movie "Rio 40 graus" - "Leviana" and "A Voz do Morro", and also other
songs in the movie "Rio Zona Norte" by the same director, in which he participated also as actor
In 1960 he returned to Portela and participated in the musical activities of the "Zicartola
Restaurant", introducing old composers, who were still unknown by the public like
Cartola, Nelson Cavaquinho, and new ones like Paulinho da Viola, Elton Medeiros...
He conceptualized and recorded two LPs with a musical group called "A Voz do Morro", which
its main intention was to defend the authentic samba. Besides Zé Ketti, the group consisted
of Anescar do Salgueiro, Paulinho da Viola, Nelson Sargento, Elton Medeiros, Jair do Cavaquinho,
among others. Authentic samba.
In 1964, the year of the military revolution in Brazil and of the dictatorship which lasted for 20
years, Zé Ketti opened the show "Opinião", with João do Vale, a composer from Maranhão, and
singer and bossa nova's muse Nara Leão. The show was directed by Augusto Boal and
musically directed by Dori Caymmi. It was the union between the street of the rich zone
of Rio de Janeiro (Nara Leão) with the slums (Zé Ketti) and the country rhythms of the north
(João do Vale).
During the 70's, 80's and 90's Zé Ketti was forgotten by Brazilian music industry, midia,
and promoters. He kept composing and appearing at small venues in SãoPaulo and Rio.
Zé Ketti died in 1999 in poverty.
Listen to some samples of the wonderful Zé Ketti sung by himself.
Madrugada - Zé Ketti
Leviana - Zé Ketti
Acender as velas - Zé Ketti
Meu pecado - Zé Ketti
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