Elba Ramalho

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Bethania, of course, is one of the great names. Above all she is a fine smokey ballad singer with a gorgeous voice, as this 1989 release of songs by composers from Joao Bosco to Djavan amply testifies. The best cut, among many, is a simply gorgeous song to fado-style guitars. One falls for her from her first cut, a patter-samba of the kind very popular in the 1940s, backed by a fine band with an extra salsa-derived edge that brings the Brazilian lilt somewhat nearer to merengue. Along with several such, and some more rock-influenced pieces, she too sings plenty of ballads. Listening to the two singers together calls to mind that the French chansonniers have clearly had a considerable influence on Brazilian pop-balladry.

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