Tetê Espíndola

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Essentially an experimental singer/songwriter, Tetê Espíndola has been praised by vanguard critics, musicians, and intellectuals. She has also experienced nationwide popular success when she won at…
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Artist Biography by

Essentially an experimental singer/songwriter, Tetê Espíndola has been praised by vanguard critics, musicians, and intellectuals. She has also experienced nationwide popular success when she won at Festival dos Festivais in 1985 with "Escrito Nas Estrelas." Characterized by ecological concerns, her performances utilize elements of both acoustic and electronic settings.

Raised in a musical environment, Espíndola formed her first group (LuzAzul) with her siblings Alzira Espíndola, Geraldo Espíndola, and Celito Espíndola in their home city. In the '60s a new kind of music appeared in that distant frontier of Brazil and Paraguay. Taking influences of música caipira (Brazilian hillbilly music), especially that of Délio e Delinha, and melting it with American folk-rock, the two best regional composers and poets Geraldo and Paulo Simões provided excellent raw material for the incursions of the nascent group, who were especially suited for a kind of poetry that dealt with ecology (much before this became fashionable). Musically the group employed plenty of fingerpicked strings (mostly, they played several craviolas, a 12-string instrument similar to the guitar) and elaborated vocals that were polished daily through their familial cohabitation. The first album came in 1978 with the disastrous interference of producers foretold by the title, Tetê e o Lírio Selvagem. In that album, the delicate guitars and vocals, reminiscent of the bucolical landscapes depicted both in music and poetry, and the psychedelic scents so dear to their sound were buried under a commonplace strings and rhythm section, making the result unrecognizable for the group's fans and ununderstandable for newcomers. Tetê's trademark, a then still uncontrolled use of extremely high bird-influenced pitches (she claims to have learned to sing listening to the araras of her home state), sounded dislocated in a so behaved environment. But it's understandable that being inexperienced, the siblings were alluded by the perspective of success and made compromises that they would live to regret. As the album didn't happen, Tetê continued to promote her solo work and participate in TV series (TV Globo's Caso Verdade A Vida de Clementina de Jesus). Her first solo album, Piraretã (1980), began her association with the vanguardist Arrigo Barnabé, which would be instrumental for her future path in the area that could appreciate her rare vocal talent. In 1981, she presented Barnabé's valse "Londrina" in the MPB Shell Festival. The song was awarded for its arrangement by Cláudio Leal. At that point, Espíndola's unusual timbre had won the vanguard of São Paulo, including the poet Augusto de Campos, leaving Espíndola to be praised by Tom Jobim and many other top artists. Espíndola's biggest commercial hit was "Escrito Nas Estrelas" (Arnaldo Black/Carlos Rennó), winner of TV Globo's Festival dos Festivais (1985). More at ease in demanding/artistic situations, she represented Brazil at several international festivals, like the Concert Voice (1988, Rome, Italy), New Morning (1989, Paris, France), Festival de Jazz Latino-Americano (Cordoba, Argentina), and the Belgium Jazz Festival. In 1990, together with Arnaldo Black, Espíndola won a one-year scholarship from the Vitae Foundation with a composition based in the singing of the Amazonian birds, using her voice solely as an instrument. This research was made available in the album Ouvir (1991). In 2001, Espíndola performed in several cities of Germany and Portugal.