Alberto Lonato, one of the most important composers of the Portela samba school, was involved with Carnaval since his childhood, when he paraded at the extinct bloco Mama na Burra.
Soon he was frequenting the sambistas of the Mangueira hill, of the Favela hill, of the Largo do Estácio, and the sambas (parties) of Seu Napoleão (Natal da Portela's father), Nozinho, and Vicentina.
Lonato learned how to play the pandeiro observing other instrumentalists. Around 1929 he was present at the earliest meetings for the creation of the Portela samba school, at the home of the mãe-de-santo (Umbanda priestess) Madalena Rica, though he would join Portela definitively only in 1942.
His composition "Sofrimento de Quem Ama" was launched in 1970 on the LP Portela/Passado de Glória by Lonato and the Velha Guarda da Portela. The song was re-recorded three years later by Clara Nunes. In 1976, Cristina Buarque launched "Não Pode Ser Verdade," written in 1971. Other recordings of his songs were "Peixe Com Coco" by Clara Nunes in 1980; "Você Me Abandonou" (composed in 1945) by Pedrinho da Flor, Monarco, and Argemiro in 1986 and by the Velha Guarda da Portela in 1999; "Cada Um Pro Seu Lado" by Zeca Pagodinho in 1989; and "Com Lealdade" by Paulinho da Viola in 1989.
Lonato was a member of the Velha Guarda da Portela until 1994, when he suffered a stroke. Even then he continued to participate in the Carnaval parades until his death. Emerson Urso paid tribute to Lonato on his opening CD, Respeito Ao Samba, with the participation of Monarco.