Sexualized as a caricatured commercial commodity yet also strangely neutered as an ethnic "other" in Technicolor motion pictures, Carmen Miranda did as much as Xavier Cugat to popularize Latin American music in the U.S.A. during the 1940s. Born in Portugal, raised in Rio de Janeiro, Maria do Carmo Miranda da Cunha became popular in Brazil during the 1930s as a cabaret singer, recording artist, and movie actress. This chronologically arranged Living Era sampler picks up her trail in 1939, when she began making records in the U.S. after successful work on Broadway and the beginnings of an eight-year involvement with 20th Century Fox in Hollywood. Usually accompanied by the Bando da Lua e Garoto, a small authentic Brazilian ensemble, she dishes out genuine Latin American songs, dallies with the occasional pop novelty, and sings "Chattanooga Choo Choo" in Portuguese. This compilation closes with two songs performed in collaboration with the Andrews Sisters in front of Vic Schoen & His Orchestra, a souvenir of Carmen Miranda's 1947 switch from Fox to MGM. She also made pictures with Paramount and was pursuing a career in television when suddenly, while rehearsing with Jimmy Durante on August 5, 1955, she died of a heart attack, an apparent victim of massive and prolonged cocaine abuse. This pleasant retrospective is an excellent introduction to the music of Carmen Miranda.
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AllMusic Review by arwulf arwulf