Having a strong influence with his music in his home region of Amazon, Nilson Chaves, who has been living in Rio de Janeiro since 1975, became one of the most visible representatives of the culture of his state. His fourth release, Amazônia (1990), got five nominations for the Sharp prize and Tempodestino, 25 Anos Ao Vivo was nominated for the first Latin Grammy Awards. Upon his arrival in Rio, Chaves started partnerships with Luli e Lucina and Tereza Tinoco, who recorded his songs. His first solo album was released in 1981, Dança de Tudo. The second one, Interior (1986), was shared with Vital Lima. Waldemar brought new readings of the works by noted composer Waldemar Henrique, and was also shared with Vital Lima. The album was included in the Top Ten of the O Globo newspaper chart. Não Peguei o Ita had one of its tracks, "Passarinho e Homem," as the winner of the Sharp prize for Best Arrangement. In 1997, together with Sebastião Tapajós, Chaves launched the CD Amazônia Brasileira, with the songs that were presented by the duo in their shows in Brazil and Berlin (Germany, September 1997).
In 1998, Nilson Chaves performed in Germany and France in another tour with Tapajós. Upon his return, he toured the north of Brazil with Chico César. In July 1999, Chaves performed again in France at the Latin American Music Festival. After presenting the music from Amazon to the people of Rio de Janeiro as the musical director of the Cantorias Amazônicas project (at the Cultural Center Banco do Brasil) in January/February 2000, in September he toured Europe promoting his CD Tudo Índio, distributed by the German label Tupirama Music.
Chaves' commemoration of his 25-year of career, the CD Tempodestino, 25 Anos Ao Vivo, recorded with choral and orchestra, yielded a nomination for the first Latin Grammy Awards as the Best Album of Brazilian Regional Music.
In November 2001, Chaves produced a major musical event in the Amazon, a show that commemorated his 50th birthday. Attended by 20,000 people, the performance counted on the presence of Ivan Lins, Sá, Rodrix e Guarabira, Zeca Baleiro, Fafá de Belém, Sebastião Tapajós, Zé Renato, Boca Livre, Flávio Venturini, Ednardo, Vital Lima, Chico César, Sandra de Sá, Paulinho Moska, Jane Duboc, Celso Viáfora, Luli e Lucina, and others.