Mário Pinheiro recorded more albums than any other singer in his time, from 1902 to 1919. Together with Cadete, Baiano, Nozinho, and Eduardo das Neves, Pinheiro formed the group of the first professionals of the recording business in Brazil. He performed (also as an opera bass) in the U.S. and Italy (in the Alla Scalla theater, Milano).
Of humble origins, Pinheiro escaped from home at eight. He debuted his artistic career as a clown in a sordid circus of Piedade (a Rio working-class suburb), being booed. He became a singer recording exclusively for Fred Figner's Casa Edison. Presenting himself as "Mário" in those albums, he became famous throughout Brazil. Hired by the American RCA Victor, Pinheiro spent a season in the U.S. and then went to Italy, where he studied chant. He returned to Brazil as a bass singer in a lyrical company and participated of the inauguration of the Teatro Municipal (Rio) at July 27, 1909, doing the Tapir character of the Delgado de Carvalho opera Moema. He played the role of Sparafucile in Verdi's Rigoletto many times and of Colline in Puccini's La Bohème. In 1909, with the famous soprano Zola Amaro, he played in Carlos Gomes's opera Condor. Among his hits, the canção "Ai, Maria" (E. di Capua, version by Russo), the desafio "Ao Som da Viola," the tango "O Boêmio" (Anacleto de Medeiros/Catulo da Paixão Cearense), the canção "A Brisa Dizia à Rosa," the duet "Canção Mineira," the modinha "A Casa Branca da Serra" (Miguel Egídio Pestana/Guimarães Passos), and many others.