One of the most respected samba composers ever, one of the founders of the Império Serrano samba schools, and writer of the first samba-enredo, Silas de Oliveira also left behind "Meu Drama" (recorded by Cartola as "Senhora Tentação"), "Apoteose ao Samba" (written withMano Décio, immortalized by Jamelão), and "Aquarelas do Brasil" (several times re-recorded, the ones realized by Elza Soares and Martinho da Vila especially deserving mention).
The son of a Baptist minister, Silas de Oliveira was educated in a strict manner and became a teacher in his father's school, Colégio Assumpção. After concluding high school, he became acquainted with the young sambista Mano Décio da Viola, who would be his most regular partner and great friend. Hidden from his father, Oliveira frequented the rodas (get-togethers) of samba and jongo alongside Rufino, Mestre Fuleiro, Olímpio Navalhada, Aniceto do Império, and Mano Eloy. In 1934, Oliveira wrote his first samba (with Mano Décio da Viola), "Meu Grande Amor," and was taken by Décio to the samba school Prazer da Serrinha (later Império Serrano). There he started at the tamborim and soon became the director of the drum section. His first samba for the school was "Sagrado Amor" (written with Manula). In 1940, Oliveira married his girlfriend from the time when she was her pupil at his father's school, Elaine dos Santos (who was a cousin of two future presidents of Império Serrano, João Gradim and Sebastião de Oliveira, the Molequinho).
After the end of World War II, the Brazilian dictator Getúlio Vargas decreed that all the samba schools paraded to enredos (plots) connected to patriotic themes. So, in 1945, Oliveira wrote with Décio the first samba-enredo ever, "Conferência de São Francisco." Impeded from presenting the samba at the last minute by Alfredo Costa, the tyrannical director of the Prazer da Serrinha, Oliveira, Décio, and other members of the school (Mestre Fuleiro, Rufino, Sebastião de Oliveira, Antenor, and others) founded the Império Serrano samba school. In 25 years of participation in the school until his demise, Oliveira wrote 14 sambas-enredo for the Império Serrano, earning for it top classifications in the annual Carnaval contest: in 1950, first place with "Sessenta e Um Anos de República"; in 1953, second place with "O Último Baile da Corte Imperial"; and in 1955, first place with "O Caçador de Esmeraldas." In 1955, Oliveira had a song recorded for the first time, "Rádio Patrulha," by Heleninha Costa. In 1957, the Império Serrano obtained second place with his samba-enredo "D. João VI" (written with Mano Décio da Viola). In 1956 and 1957, his samba "Rádio Patrulha" had success in the Carnaval street parades. In 1960, Oliveira's samba "Medalhas e Brasões" shared first place with other four works. In 1964, the samba school won fourth place with his samba-enredo "Aquarela Brasileira," his biggest hit and one of the most aired sambas ever. In 1965, the Império again earned fourth place with "Os Cinco Bailes da Corte," the year in which Oliveira joined the Samba Autêntico group. His samba "Exaltação à Bahia" (written with Joaci Santana) won third place in the official parade in the same year, and in 1967 the school won second place with the samba "São Paulo, Chapadão da Glória" (written with Joaci Santana). While in 1968 "Pernambuco, Leão do Norte" earned second place; the samba was recorded by Oliveira himelf at the Sound and Image Museum of Rio de Janeiro on the LP As Escolas Cantam Seus Sambas de 1968 Para a Posteridade, the first record that put together all of the schools' sambas of a same year. 1969 was the last year in which the school paraded to a samba of his, "Heróis da Liberdade," recorded successfully later by Elza Soares.