Paraguaçu was one of the most popular Brazilian singers of the early decades of the 20th century. Had several hits (his first recording dates from 1912), and also worked for cinema, TV, and radio.
Son of Italian immigrants, adopted the artistic name Paraguaçu (an all Brazilian denomination) tired of being called "italianinho do Brás" ("the little Italian of Brás," an Italian borough of São Paulo). His professional debut was at the Parisien Café, in the city of São Paulo, in 1908. In the next year, he participated in a festival organized by Eduardo das Neves at the Circo Spinelli. He was introduced to Catulo da Paixão Cearense and sang to him, causing a strong impression in the old master, who later wrote famous verses in his homage. The first album was recorded in 1912, for Odeon, with his "Madalena" and "Mágoas." With Caramuru (Belchior da Silveira), one of the pioneers of the recording business in Brazil, he formed a vocal duo which was accompanied by the violões (acoustic guitars) of Canhoto and Luís Miranda and performed in the city. In 1926, he recorded "Palma de Martírio" (Catulo da Paixão Cearense/Anacleto de Medeiros) and "Cruz Do Rosário." He was sued because of the latter, as plagiarist of "A Pequenina Cruz Do Teu Rosário" (Fetinga/Fernando Weyne). In the next year, he appeared in the film Bem-Te-Vi, singing the homonymous song. The song, recorded in 1929 through Columbia, was one of his biggest hits. "A Juriti," "Triste Caboclo," "Lamentos" (Catulo da Paixão Cearense), "Na Casa Branca Da Serra"(Guimarães Passos/Miguel Emídio Pestana), and "Casinha Pequenina" were also hits, recorded by him for Columbia in the same year. Paraguaçu also participated in the first five Brazilian sound movies: Acabaram-se Os Otários (1929), Campeão De Futebol (1931), Coisas Nossas (1931), Mágoa Sertaneja, Fazendo Fita (1935), among others. He sang "Triste Caboclo," "Saudades De Alguém," "Nunca Mais," "Violeiro Do Luar," and "Versos Que Não Te Dei." He was the first singer to perform at the Rádio Bandeirante in 1924 (São Paulo).
Under the pseudonym of Maracajá, he recorded several songs in Columbia's Série Caipira Cornélio Pires (1930), among them "A Encruziada" (Angelino de Oliveira) and "Cantando O Aboio" (Angelino Oliveira/Cornélio Pires). Paraguaçu wrote four books: Lira do Paraguaçu, O Cantor Das Noites Enluaradas, Cancioneiro do Brasil, and Buquê de Rimas. In 1933, he wrote two toada sertaneja classics, "Portera Véia" and "O Violero do Luá" (with Assunção Fleury). He recorded two of the most representative classics of the genre, "O Luar do Sertão" (Catulo da Paixão Cearense/João Pernambuco) in 1936 and "Tristezas do Jeca" (Angelino de Oliveira) in 1937. His last hit was the modinha "Perdão Emília" (José Henriques da Silva/Juca Pedaço), recorded in 1945. In the '40s, he continued to perform on the radio, TV, and to tour. In the 1953 Carnival contest of the São Paulo mayoralty, he had the first and second places with the sambas "Vagabundo" and "Saberei Me Vingar." Extremely popular, his albums even provoked suicides: one young man died to the sound of "Morrer de Amor" ("To Die of Loving") and another of "Nunca Mais" ("Never Again").
As a composer, Paraguaçu had success with "Lamentos," "Madalena," "Esse Boêmio Sou Eu," among several others. He recorded for Odeon between 1912-1927, for Phoenix (owned by Gustavo Figner) in 1913, for Columbia between 1928-1938, for RCA Victor in 1938, and also for Continental and Todamérica. In 1958, he commemorated 50 years of popular music by recording the LP Mágoas de Um Trovador, with 11 originals besides "Meu Violão" (Pétir). His old recordings were reissued in 1960 by Musicolor (original Columbia recordings from 1930 to 1937) and Continental (in the LP Paraguaçu, 1975). In 1969, he recorded his old hits again in the Fermata LP Canção de Amor.