Having dedicated her whole life to the Portela samba school, Tia Surica, pastora of the Velha Guarda da Portela, continues to commemorate the tradition of her school by regularly promoting a roda de samba (samba get-together) where the biggest artists of the genre celebrate this music. Along with her solo discography, Tia Surica also has recorded as a special guest of Marisa Monte, Zeca Pagodinho, Zélia Ducan, Alcione, Beth Carvalho, and Paulinho da Viola.
Born to a family deeply involved with Portela, Iranette Ferreira Barcellos, later known as Tia Surica, paraded for the first time in the children's wing of the baianas in 1944, at age four. In 1957, she recorded the LP A Vitoriosa Escola de Samba da Portela. In the Carnaval of 1966, Surica was the puxadora (the official interpreter of the samba-enredo chosen by the samba school for the annual parade) of the Portela, singing the only samba-enredo written by Paulinho da Viola for Portela, "Memórias de um Sargento de Milícias."
Since 1980, Tia Surica is a pastora of the Velha Guarda da Portela and recorded "Velha Guarda da Portela/Grandes Sambistas" in 1986 (reissued on CD as Doce Recordação). She also was praised for her subsequent works Homenagem a Paulo da Portela (1988) and Tudo Azul (produced by Marisa Monte in 1999).