Maria Bethânia

Que Falta Voce Me Faz: Maria Bethania sings the Vinicius de Moraes Songbook

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Even after four decades as one of Brazil's top female vocalists, Maria Bethânia is still known outside of her homeland primarily as the sister of Caetano Veloso, arguably Brazil's most renowned popular singer during those same decades. At least part of the reason Bethânia has stayed under the radar (other than the fact that her music has rarely been released by major U.S. labels) is that she's often been saddled with material that has detoured her flexible, pure voice away from what it does best. That ceases to be a problem here. Singing the compositions of the late Vinicius de Moraes, long considered one of Brazil's greatest songwriters, Bethânia has plenty to work with. De Moraes collaborated with so many of the other Brazilian greats, most prolifically with the legendary Antonio Carlos Jobim, whose credit de Moraes shares on nearly half of the tracks here. It's not all that surprising that Bethânia gives her all to these pieces -- she met de Moraes when she was just 19 and he was 47; he became a mentor to her and she came up in the business digesting his compositional style wholly. In the early '70s, the pair even recorded together on a couple of albums. The passion for his music flows throughout these recordings, which range from spare a cappella readings to sweetly swaying bossa novas to lush, orchestrated extravaganzas. The clarity of Bethânia's voice -- now huskier with age -- is matched by the spotless arrangements and beautifully production and engineering. This one was a long time coming, and Bethânia's love for her teacher is palpable.

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