Leo Vilar

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Leo Vilar had a distinguished career as the leader of the most famous vocal/instrumental group Anjos do Inferno. He also discovered Dorival Caymmi and other singers from Bahia, thanks to his revolutionary…
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Leo Vilar had a distinguished career as the leader of the most famous vocal/instrumental group Anjos do Inferno. He also discovered Dorival Caymmi and other singers from Bahia, thanks to his revolutionary direction at Rádio Clube da Bahia.

The son of Italian immigrants, Vilar was an amateur singer when he was very young. In 1930, he recorded "Eu Dava Tudo" at the Columbia studios, as a test. Vilar was then invited by Valdo Abreu to perform at rádio Mayrink Veiga, beginning at that same night. Abreu was also responsible for his stage name. Very successful, he remained at that radio until 1934. With his accompanist, the pianist Aluísio Silva Araújo, he was awarded as the Best Duo in radio, in a contest promoted by newspaper A Hora. In 1932, he became a crooner of Benedito Lacerda's regional, Gente do Morro, replacing Moreira da Silva. He recorded his first album in that year for Columbia, with "Foi Bom" (Orlando Silva) and "Não Devo Amar" (Russo do Pandeiro). Soon afterwards, he recorded his second album with his great friend Noel Rosa. They sang the duet "Devo Esquecer" (Gilberto Martins) and Rosa soloed the other side. With Arnaldo Amaral, he recorded his third album, with "Se Passada a Hora" (Osvaldo Vasques). In 1934, with his friend Gilberto Martins, he traveled to Salvador BA, where they performed as a duo. After a hard beginning, Vilar was hired as a crooner of the orchestra of the Cassino dos Tenentes, dedicating himself to that job for three months. In 1936, trying to break the habit of just broadcasting records in Bahian radios, Martins and Vilar purchased the Rádio Clube da Bahia, discovering Dorival Caymmi, among others.

In 1936, Vilar returned to Rio. He then made contact with the Anjos do Inferno. While its former director, Oto Borges, returned to his integral dedication as a bank clerk, he became the leader of the group. Having great success after the recording of the samba-canção "Bahia, oi, Bahia" (Vicente Paiva/Augusto Mesquita), the Anjos do Inferno became one of the most important vocal/instrumental groups of the period, recording many hits and developing an international reputation at Mexico's then biggest nightclub in Latin America, El Pateo, where played for four years. After the dissolution of the group, in 1953, Vilar became the director of Magissom recording company.