“Vem amenizar”; “O Mar Serenou”; “Ouro Desça do seu Trono/ Mil Reis”

Lyrics from “Vem amenizar” by Candeia and Waldir 59 (1978)

Vem amenizar a minha dor, amor // Come alleviate my pain, my love
Tu és entre elas a mais bela flor // You are, among them, the most beautiful flower
Vem porque só eu te quero bem // Come, because only I want the best for you
És a vida da minha vida, querida // You’re the life of my life, dear

Vem dar lenitivo ao meu pobre coração// Come give relief to my poor heart
Que tanto sofre a esperar por teu amor // That suffers so much for your love
Vem suavizar esta paixão // Come soften this passion
E exterminar toda esta dor // And exterminate this pain
Ora, vem por favor // Now, come, please…


Lyrics from “O mar serenou” (Candeia, 1975)


O mar serenou quando ela pisou na areia // The sea turned serene when she stepped on the sand
Quem samba na beira do mar é sereia //It’s a siren who dances samba at the edge of the sea

O pescador não tem medo // The fisherman isn’t afraid
É segredo se volta ou se fica no fundo do mar // It’s a mystery if she comes back or stays in the depths of the sea
Ao ver a morena bonita sambando // Upon seeing the beautiful morena dancing samba
Se explica que não vai pescar // He tells himself he won’t go fishing –
Deixa o mar serenar // Let the sea be serene

O mar serenou quando ela pisou na areia // The sea turned serene when she stepped on the sand
Quem samba na beira do mar é sereia // It’s a siren who dances samba at the edge of the sea

A lua brilhava vaidosa // The moon shone brightly, vain,
De si orgulhosa e prosa com que deus lhe deu // Full of herself, showing off what God gave her
Ao ver a morena sambando // When she saw the morena dancing samba
Foi se acabrunhando então adormeceu o sol apareceu // She lost spirit, fell asleep, and the sun appeared

O mar serenou quando ela pisou na areia // The sea turned serene when she stepped on the sand
Quem samba na beira do mar é sereia // It’s a siren who dances samba at the edge of the sea

Um frio danado que vinha // A bitter cold coming
Do lado gelado que o povo até se intimidou // From the frigid side left the people intimidated
Morena aceitou o desafio sambou // But the morena accepted the challenge, danced
E o frio sentiu seu calor e o samba se esquentou // And the cold felt her warmth, and the samba heated up

O mar serenou quando ela pisou na areia // The sea turned serene when she stepped on the sand
Quem samba na beira do mar é sereia // It’s a siren who dances samba at the edge of the sea

A estrela que estava escondida // The star that was hidden
Sentiu-se atraída depois então, apareceu // Felt drawn in and then came out
Mas ficou tão enternecida // But she became so enraptured
Indagou a si mesma a estrela afinal será ela ou sou eu //She asked herself, ‘who’s the star, after all, me or her?’

O mar serenou quando ela pisou na areia // The sea turned serene when she stepped on the sand
Quem samba na beira do mar é sereia // It’s a siren who dances samba at the edge of the sea


Lyrics from “Ouro, Desça do Seu Trono” (Paulo da Portela, Candeia – 1978) & “Mil Reis” (Candeia & Noca da Portela, 1978)

Ouro Desça Do Seu Trono // Gold, come down off your throne
Venha Ver O Abandono // Come see the forlornness
De Milhões De Almas Aflitas, Como Gritam // Of millions of suffering souls, how they cry
Sua Majestade, A Prata // Her Majesty, Silver [Money]
Mãe Ingrata, Indiferente E Fria // Thankless Mother, Indifferent and Cold
Sorri Da Nossa Agonia // Smirks at our agony

Diamante, Safira E Rubi // Diamond, Saphire, Ruby
São Pedras Valiosas // Are valuable stones
Mas Eu Não Troco Por Ti // But I wouldn’t trade you for them
Porque És Mais Preciosa // Because you’re even more precious
De Tanto Ver O Poder // After so many times seeing power
Prevalecer Na Mão Do Mal // In the hand of evil
O Homem Deixa Se Vender //
A Honra Pelo Vil Metal // Man lets his honor be sold for vile metal
(refrain)

Nessa Terra Sem Paz Com Tanta Guerra // In this land without peace, with so much war
A Hipocrisia Se Venera // Hypocrisy is venerated
O Dinheiro É Quem Impera // Money reigns
Sinto Minha Alma Tristonha // I feel my soul heavy with sorrow
De Tanto Ver Falsidade // From seeing so much falseness
E Muitos Já Tem Vergonha // And many have grown ashamed
Do Amor E Honestidade // Of love and honesty
(refrain)

— Mil Reis —

Hoje tu voltas aqui com semblante a sorrir // Today you return here, a smile on your face
Esperando que eu te receba e te dê // Expecting me to receive you and give you
Muitos beijos de amor // Many kisses full of love
Esquecendo afinal o que entre nós se passou // Forgetting, let’s face it, what happened between us
Foi você quem errou // You were the one who went wrong
Te ajoelhas aos meus pés, mas não vales mil réis // You kneel at my feet, but you’re not worth 1,000 reis
Te conheço, afinal // After all, I know you
Não mereço perder tantos anos da vida // I don’t deserve to lose so many years of my life
Tentarei te esquecer, perdida // I’ll try to forget you, you’re lost
Perdida porque não honraste um homem // Lost because you didn’t honor a man
Manchaste o meu nome e tudo quanto te ofertei // You tarnished my name and everything I gave you
Jogaste fora, como moeda sem valor, um grande amor // You threw away, like a coin without value, a great love
Quem me encontrou, me valorizou // The one who found valued me

— Commentary —

Candeia on the guitar in 1969, with Martinho da Vila behind him.
Candeia on the guitar in 1969, with Martinho da Vila behind him.

Today, August 17, 2015, would have been Candeia‘s 80th birthday; he died of a heart attack at age 43 on November 16, 1978.

Because of his tremendous impact and short life, Candeia has been called a “lightning bolt that passed through Brazilian popular music.” Candeia achieved such greatness in such short time in part because he was born into the Portela samba school in Oswaldo Cruz, Rio de Janeiro, in 1935. His father, Candeia Senior, was involved in the founding of the samba school, and Candeia grew up with birthday parties and holidays celebrated with feijoada, cachaça and pagodes that lasted for days. By age 15 he was a composer for Portela, and by age 17 he had his first Portela carnival championship under his belt, with  “As seis datas magnas” (Candeia & Altair Prego).

Candeia’s life was short and tough: he spent his last 13 years in a wheelchair, paralyzed by gunshot wounds from a road-rage brawl.  But the hardship of being bound to a wheelchair made his music richer and fuelled his social activism, and his untimely death makes his lyrics more poignant to listeners today:  His moving verses about life, race, social justice, love, samba, beer and betrayal are some of Brazil’s most beloved.

For more on Candeia, go to this earlier, more thorough post:  https://lyricalbrazil.com/2014/01/17/coisas-banais-and-preciso-me-encontrar/.

Here’s Candeia’s close friend Waldir 59 recently singing “Vem amenizar”, with Teresa Cristina, a contemporary samba singer and composer:

Source: Luiz Antônio Simas fala sobre Candeia; Candeia: Luz da Inspiração by João Baptista M. Vargens

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Paulo da Portela: “Linda Borboleta,” “Linda Guanabara,” and “O meu nome já caiu no esquecimento”

Lyrics from “Linda Borboleta” by Paulo da Portela and Monarco

Part 1- by Paulo da Portela
Beautiful butterfly, don’t be so mischievous
Leave my rose be, so lovely on the stem
It’s my delight, when dawn breaks, to pay her a visit
See her bathed in dew
When the sun comes it covers her with gold
A treasure in a poor man’s garden (2x)

Part 2 – by Monarco
Beautiful butterfly, please, leave my treasure of royal worth
This is the plea of a poor troubadour
Who finds inspiration in the rose to write songs of love
(refrain)

— Interpretation —

IMG_20140918_165650

Paulo da Portela (June 18, 1901 – January 31, 1949) was one of the most important sambistas in the history of carioca samba. He was one of the founders of the Portela samba school in the 1920s. He is also remembered for having significantly reduced tensions between Rio’s largely Afro-Brazilian samba world and the authorities of Brazil’s young first republic (1889 – 1930), who tended to treat sambistas – inextricably associated with Afro-Brazilian religion, capoeira and, in their eyes, vagrancy – with disdain.

“Linda Borboleta” reveals the environment in which Paulo was composing in the 1920s and 1930s: He had moved with his family from Rio’s central port zone to the rural parish of Nossa Senhora da Apresentação de Irajá — the neighborhood that eventually came to be known as Oswaldo Cruz when the train station was renamed in honor of the renowned sanitarian. With almost no basic infrastructure and day-to-day activities revolving around agriculture and music, Portela samba school established a rich heritage of singing about nature — butterflies and roses, for instance —  more than centrally located samba schools like Mangueira and Estácio.

Below I’ve compiled a short history of Paulo da Portela and the Portela samba school, for those who want to know more.

PAULO DA PORTELA: FROM SANTO CRISTO TO OSWALDO CRUZ

Paulo da Portela was born Paulo Benjamin de Oliveira in the Santo Cristo neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro’s port region. His father abandoned the family when he was still a toddler, and Paulo began working odd jobs to help support his mother, older brother and younger sister. He sold boxed meals in neighboring Saúde, the heart of Rio de Janeiro’s earliest rodas de samba.

At the time, the area was booming with recently arrived migrants from all over Brazil, mainly Africans and Afro-Brazilians. The worst drought in northeastern Brazil’s history, the collapse of the coffee industry in Vale do Paraíba, the end of the Paraguayan War in 1870, and especially the abolition of slavery in 1888 contributed to this migration to Rio. Between 1890 and 1910, the capital of the recently proclaimed republic nearly doubled in size, reaching almost a million (pop. 989,479).  The port area and surrounding neighborhoods concentrated all of the heavy-lifting jobs at the port along with the city’s largest center of wholesale markets, on the nearby Rua da Alfândega, and therefore drew in a large concentration of these migrants.

This headline reads "Pereira Passos orders demolishing of colonial Rio"
This headline from 1903 reads “Pereira Passos orders demolishing of colonial Rio.”

Paulo da Portela grew up in this Afro-Brazilian stronghold until he was nearly 20,  at which point his family could no longer make ends meet in the center of the city.

Costs had risen exponentially in downtown Rio after Mayor Pereira Passos’s urban reforms of 1903 – 1906. Passos’s reforms were modeled after Paris’s urban reforms of 1853-1870, with the slogan, O Rio civiliza-se (Rio gets civilized); giant slum tenements and community housing in the port area were destroyed, forcing residents to begin moving up onto the hillsides — favelas ballooned — or out to the rural outskirts of the city. What little housing remained near the port became infinitely more expensive. Still, Paulo’s family held out for over a decade, albeit in ever more precarious living situations.  Then Prefeito Carlos Sampaio razed more port-area housing – most notoriously the historic Morro do Castelo, which he argued disrupted ventilation in the city, presented sanitary problems, and was on real estate too valuable to be taken up by tenement housing. These 1921 reforms pushed Paulo’s family out to the indigent rural outskirts of the federal capital.

This headline from March, 1921, about the destruction of Morro do Castelo, reads "Rio has its heart ripped out."  Morro do Castelo was a landmark in the city's history, the spot  Mem de Sá had established in 1567 to house the Portuguese who had helped to expel the French from the nascent city.
This headline from March, 1921, about the destruction of Morro do Castelo, reads “Rio has its heart ripped out.” Morro do Castelo was a landmark in the city’s history, the spot Mem de Sá had established in 1567 to house the Portuguese who had helped to expel the French from the nascent city.

 

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In orange, the Santo Cristo neighborhood near Rio de Janeiro’s port.
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In orange, the Oswaldo Cruz neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paulo da Portela took the train with his mother and sister (his older brother had       already died) from Central Station out to the agricultural outpost of  Nossa Senhora da Apresentação de Irajá, where he found a culture apart:  While by some accounts  African roots had been a source of pride among the community in the port region, Paulo found blacks in Oswaldo Cruz seemed to have grown resigned and accustomed to a role as second-class Brazilians.

Paulo set to work to do away with this attitude. He had a natural knack for winning friends and quickly became a public figure in his new neighborhood, taking it upon himself to instill some of the pride and posture of the port area into the community of Oswaldo Cruz. Hence, in Nei Lopes’s book  Guimbaustrilho, Lopes writes of Paulo: “One of the most important personalities in the samba world, he was, in his time, as a composer and director, and in his way, one of the greatest defenders and promoters of black culture.”

Dona Esther was one of Oswaldo Cruz'z biggest partiers.
Dona Esther was one of Oswaldo Cruz’s biggest partiers.

In the destitute conditions of Oswaldo Cruz at the time, there was little to do but get together with neighbors, make music and drink. A few figures in the community became respected social movers and shakers and played important roles in the earliest days of Portela:  One was Seu Napoleão, whose sister lived in the downtown Estácio neighborhood and brought sambistas like Ismael Silva, Brancura, Aurélio and Baiaco to her brother’s parties. Around this time these sambistas from Estácio had come up with a new rhythm for Carnival, and they spread their new sound in Oswaldo Cruz.

Another dedicated partier was the neighborhood Carnival queen Dona Esther, who organized pagodes at her home that lasted up to “fifteen days at a time” according to Jair do Cavaquinho in this documentary. (They were really probably more like two days at most).

Pagodes represented a form of resistance. Authorities saw such manifestations of black culture as gatherings of ne’er-do-wells, and pagodes were often rounded up on the grounds of vagrancy laws, by which anyone without a fixed job was treated as a vagabundo subject to arrest.

Paulo da Portela, Heitor dos Prazeres, Gilberto Alves, Bide and Marçal (of Estácio), in the garb Paulo famously insisted all sambistas wear.
Paulo da Portela, Heitor dos Prazeres, Gilberto Alves, Bide and Marçal (of Estácio), in the garb Paulo famously insisted all sambistas wear.

Paulo, in turn,  made a point to maintain good relations with the government and the media, and demanded that his fellow sambistas use nice clothes, shoes and a tie, famously remarking, “Sambistas, to be part of our group, must wear a tie and dress shoes. Everyone must have their feet and necks occupied!” [Sambista, para fazer parte do nosso grupo, tem que usar gravata e sapato. Todo mundo de pés e pescoços ocupados!] He recognized that samba ought to be packaged in a way that would defy the stigmas against the music and its Afro-Brazilian origins. He brought prominent figures from the city into the samba world and served as an ambassador of sorts between sambistas and government officials.

NICKNAME PAULO DA PORTELA

As Paulo became a bit of a minor celebrity in the area, things got complicated: There was another sambista named Paulo in nearby Bento Ribeiro. So Paulo Benjamin took on the nickname Paulo da Portela – after the road he lived on, Estrada da Portela – while the other Paulo became Paulo de Bento Ribeiro.

FOUNDING OF PORTELA

Dona Esther, center, played a central role in the founding of Portela samba school.
Dona Esther, center, played a central role in the founding of Portela samba school.

The history of the founding of Portela samba school is murky. One of the founders, Antônio Rufino, liked to say, “Portela was born of autogenesis!”

Paulo da Portela with the Baianinhas de Oswaldo Cruz.
Paulo da Portela with the Baianinhas de Oswaldo Cruz.

Historians and members of the school don’t even agree upon a founding date. But there’s certain consensus about a few points:  Right around the time Paulo da Portela arrived in Oswaldo Cruz, Dona Esther – the partier mentioned above – organized the carnival bloco Quem Fala de Nós Come Mosca (“Whoever talks about us eats flies”), and got a city license to parade.  Some versions say this bloco was a children’s group, and that the adults organized as Baianinhas de Oswaldo Cruz. Either way, Baianinhas de Oswaldo Cruz was an offshoot of Quem Fala de Nós…, and was established by Paulo da Portela, Antônio Caetano, Antônio Rufino and Galdino Marcelino dos Santos in April 1923 — the date Portela samba school gives as its official founding date. (Dona Esther would later “baptize” the Portela samba school, with Nossa Senhora da Conceição/Oxum as the patroness – inspiring the blue and white colors – and São Sebastião/Oxóssi as the patron saint.)

Baianinhas de Oswaldo Cruz didn’t last too long, probably because of tensions between Galdino and Rufino.  Then, as the story goes, Paulo da Portela, Antônio Caetano, and Antônio Rufino got together below a mango tree at Seu Napoleão’s house and decided to raise funds for a new bloco. Between parties at Napoleão’s and Paulo’s they came up with the money to rent a house on Estrada da Portela, and formed the Conjunto Carnavalesco de Oswaldo Cruz.  They practiced at the house and also on the train that left Central Station at 6:04 pm heading back after a day’s work to Oswaldo Cruz — a tradition that inspired the Trem do Samba (Samba Train) that Marquinhos de Oswaldo Cruz has organized in Rio since the beginning of the 1990s.

FIRST SAMBA SCHOOL COMPETITION: PORTELA VICTORY

The first competition between Rio’s nascent samba schools happened on January 20, 1929 — the day of the feast of Saint Sebastian, Rio de Janeiro’s patron saint, syncretized as Oxóssi in carioca macumba. The competition was organized by the pai-de-santo Zé Espinguela — one of the founders of Mangueira samba school in 1928 — and sponsored by the newspaper A Vanguarda.

In this competition, the sambistas from Oswaldo Cruz performed and won with a samba by Paulo’s friend from downtown Rio, Heitor dos Prazeres, who was also part of the Mangueira circle. Heitor was becoming too close to the school for the comfort of the other founders, causing a certain rift between Paulo and the other founders of Portela; this rift would come to the fore again in 1941. Rufino detested Heitor dos Prazeres, claiming he had stolen his samba “Vai mesmo”; Heitor further stirred things up by proposing the school change its name to Quem Nos Faz É o Capricho on the eve of Carnival 1929 — a proposal Paulo accepted. Quem Nos Faz É o Capricho lasted just about two years. Heitor dos Prazeres affiliated himself less and less with the Oswaldo Cruz crew, mainly because of the fight with Rufino. In 1931, the school took the name Vai Como Pode, on the suggestion of Manuel Bam-Bam-Bam, the mestre-sala and tough head honcho at the school.

In 1935, Vai Como Pode won Rio de Janeiro’s first official, city-sponsored Carnival samba school competition. The school paraded to two sambas that year: “Alegria tu terás” by Antônio Caetano, and “Linda Guanabara,” by Paulo da Portela, about Rio’s Guanabara Bay:

“Linda Guanabara” by Paulo da Portela (1935)

Oh how our Guanabara is beautiful!
Rare jewel!
What beauty when our sky is all blue
Night falls and the sky sparkles
In its embroidery of stars we can see the Southern Cross
Pão de Açucar, powerful
Faithful companion to our bay
Vigilant, never sleeping even an instant
Protecting the riches that nature creates

PORTELA SAMBA SCHOOL GETS ITS NAME

1935 was a tense year in the streets of the Brazilian capital after a communist uprising against President Getúlio Vargas. The city determined that all of the samba schools should be properly registered in their local precincts.  The officer responsible for registering “Vai Como Pode” deemed the name inappropriate, and suggested the school take the name of the road where it was located – Portela. The sambistas agreed, and the name Portela stuck.

Paulo was named "Cidadão Samba" in 1937
Paulo was named “Cidadão Samba” in 1937

Paulo da Portela, meanwhile, was becoming a true samba celebrity. In 1936 he was elected “Cidadão-Momo” (Citizen Momo, inspired by the Carnival figure King Momo) in a contest sponsored by Diário da Noite, and in 1937 he was elected “Cidadão Samba” (Citizen Samba) in a contest by A Rua newspaper.

 

PAULO’S FALLING OUT WITH PORTELA

In 1941, Paulo da Portela took part in a series of shows in São Paulo together with Heitor dos Prazeres and Cartola as the Conjunto Carioca. On Saturday of Carnival that year they caught a train back to Rio de Janeiro and went straight to Praça Onze to parade. They were all wearing the black-and-white Conjunto Carioca outfits, and decided they’d parade together in their respective schools in the same outfits.

Praça XI destroyed to make way for Av. Presidente Vargas in 1941.
Praça XI destroyed to make way for Av. Presidente Vargas in 1941.

Carnival that year had already taken on a somber tone.  Much of the world was at war, and the media paid little attention to the festivities. What’s more, Praça Onze was already almost totally demolished for the extension of Av. Presidente Vargas.  When Paulo and his friends arrived and tried to parade with Portela,  Manuel Bam-Bam-Bam told Paulo that Cartola and Heitor couldn’t parade with Portela in their black-and-white outfits, especially considering Paulo’s insistence on certain outfits for the rest of the Portela sambistas. Paulo protested, and was kicked out of the parade as well. A few days later he went to Portela with Cartola to make peace, and Bam-Bam-Bam offended him again. Paulo left the school, reportedly calling portelenses “bears,” and shortly after wrote the mournful samba “Meu nome já caiu no esquecimento”:

“Meu nome já caiu no esquecimento” by Paulo da Portela (1941)

My name has already been forgotten
No one cares anymore about my name
And time went on passing, old age is arriving
I’m already regarded with disdain
Oh what saudade for the past that’s gone on to another place
Cry, cavaquinho, cry, cry guitar too
Paulo, forgotten, interests no one anymore
Cry Portela, my dear Portela
I who founded you, you’ll be mine for life

Walt Disney (middle) visiting Portela in 1941.
Walt Disney (middle) visiting Portela in 1941.

Later that year Paulo followed through with his final obligation to the school, receiving Walt Disney at Portela in August 1941. Disney was in Rio as a Good Neighbor ambassador enlisted to create Latin American characters for U.S. propaganda films during World War II. After Disney’s visit, Paulo left Portela for good, joining the small school Lira de Amor, in nearby Bento Ribeiro.

To make Paulo’s falling out with the school even more melancholy, between 1941 and 1947, Portela won seven consecutive Carnival titles — a record still unbroken. Portela also holds the all-time record of twenty-one titles.

Paulo da Portela died from a heart attack at his home in the early hours of January 31, 1949, at age 47. The directors of Portela samba school offered the school’s quadra (gym-like enclosure for samba schools) for the wake, but Paulo’s widow turned them down. Since then, he has been continually remembered and honored in Portela sambas.

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This headline reads: A reveler is gone on the eve of Carnival: Paulo da Portela’s closed business yesterday in Madureira.

 

Lyrics in Portuguese

“Linda Borboleta”

Linda borboleta, não seja buliçosa
deixa a minha rosa, que tão linda está no galho
é o meu prazer ao amanhecer
fazer-lhe visita, vê-la banhada de orvalho
quando vem o sol, cobre ela de ouro
no jardim do pobre é um tesouro (2x)

Linda borboleta, por favor
deixa meu tesouro de real valor
quem faz esse apelo é um pobre trovador
que se inspira na rosa
pra fazer canção de amor
(refrão)

“Linda Guanabara”

Como é linda a nossa Guanabara!
Joia rara!
Que beleza, quando o nosso
Céu está todo azul
Anoitece e o céu se resplandece
Em seu bordado de estrelas
Vê-se o Cruzeiro do Sul
Pão de Açúcar, poderoso
Fiel companheiro da nossa baía
Vigilante, não dorme um só instante
Guardando as riquezas que a natureza cria

“Meu nome já caiu no esquecimento”

O meu nome já caiu no esquecimento
O meu nome não interessa a mais ninguém

E o tempo foi passando
A velhice vem chegando
Já me olham com desdém
Ai quanta saudade do passado
Que se vai lá no além

Chora cavaquinho chora
Chora violão também
O Paulo no esquecimento
Não interessa a mais ninguém

Chora Portela, minha Portela querida
Eu que te fundei, serás minha toda a vida

 

Main sources for this post: Tantas Páginas Belas: Histórias da Portela by Luiz Antônio Simas; Paulo da Portela: Traço de união entre duas culturas by Marília Barboza; Partido-alto: Samba de bamba by Nei Lopes

“Estrela de Madureira” and “Madureira Chorou”

Lyrics from “Estrela de Madureira” by Acyr Pimentel and Cardoso; recorded by Roberto Ribeiro (1975)

Shining in a tremendous theater, in a tourbillion of light, of light
The vision appears of she who my samba expresses
The star goes on shining, a thousand sequins sprinkling the ground with poetry
The lead showgirl from the suburb on the Central line was the pioneer
And a luxury train departs to exalt her art
That enchanted Madureira
Even with the stage darkened, apotheosis is the infinite
The star keeps on shining in the sky

— Interpretation–

Zakia Jorge's Teatro Madureira
Zaquia Jorge’s Teatro de Revista Madureira came to be known as Teatro Zaquia Jorge; the theater was in business for a little over five years, and stopped functioning after her death in 1957.
Zaquia Jorge (1924 - 1957) came to be known as the star of Madureira.
Zaquia Jorge (1924 – 1957) came to be known as the star of Madureira.

Acyr Pimentel and Cardoso composed this samba in tribute to Zaquia Jorge (6 Jan. 1924 – 22 Apr. 1957), a wildly popular showgirl and movie star in Rio in the 1940s and 50s. By 1952, Zaquia had achieved enough success to open her own theater, and she chose to set up her stage in Rio’s poor periphery (called the suburbio in Portuguese but quite different from the images conjured by “suburbs”), in Madureira neighborhood. Zaquia opened her theater right in front of Madureira station on the suburban train line from Central Station.  Zaquia quickly became a beloved figure in Rio’s North Zone for her bold, racy repertory and her rich contribution to the arts in Rio’s periphery. The debut revue at her theater was Trem de Luxo  — luxury train, which “Estrela de Madureira” makes reference to.

Zaquia Jorge in the 1957 movie A Baronesa Transviada:

Zaquia Jorge's Teatro Madureira took her name before going out of business after her death in 1957. The theater was right in front of the Madureira station on the suburban rail from Central Station.
Zaquia Jorge’s Teatro Madureira took her name before going out of business after her death in 1957. The theater was right in front of the Madureira station on the suburban rail from Central Station.

On April 22nd, 1957, Zaquia drowned while reportedly skinny dipping with other showgirls at Barra da Tijuca, which was still a deserted beach in those days.  For Carnival the following year, Carvalhinho and Júlio Monteiro composed and Joel de Almeida recorded “Madureira Chorou,” a tribute to Zaquia. “Madureira Chorou” was the most popular Carnival samba of 1958, and one of the few Carnival songs from the 50s that became a classic (and even earned a recording in French,”Si tu vas à Rio“):

Lyrics from “Madureira Chorou” by Carvalhinho and Júlio Monteiro (1958)

Madureira cried
Madureira cried in pain
When the voice of destiny, obeying the Holy Spirit
Called her [Madureira’s] star
Humble people, good people from the suburb
Who only cause problems if someone scorns them
These people who live in the North Zone
To this day cry over the death of their star
(Only I can’t cry)

The Império Serrano Samba School quadra in Madureira, Rio de Janeiro.
The Império Serrano Samba School quadra in Madureira, Rio de Janeiro.

In 1975, Império Serrano — one of Rio’s most traditional samba schools, from Madureira — chose Zaquia Jorge as the theme for their Carnival parade. But in the school’s internal contest to choose the samba it would parade to, composer Avarese‘s samba-enredo Zaquia Jorge, Vedete do Suburbio, Estrela de Madureira won out over “Estrela de Madureira.”  Fortunately, the beloved imperiano sambista Roberto Ribeiro recorded “Estrela de Madureira” that same year; while “Zaquia Jorge, Vedete do Suburbio, Estrela de Madureira” has been largely forgotten, “Estrela de Madureira” quickly became a sensation and is still extraordinarily popular nearly forty years later.

Lyrics in Portuguese: Estrela de Madureira

Brilhando
Num imenso cenário
Num turbilhão de luz, de luz
Surge a imagem daquela
Que o meu samba traduz
Ah…
Estrela vai brilhando
Mil paetês salpicando
O chão de poesia
A vedete principal
Do subúrbio da central foi a pioneira

E…
Um trem de luxo parte
Para exaltar a sua arte
Que encantou Madureira
Mesmo com o palco apagado
Apoteóse é o infinito
Continua estrela
Brilhando no céu

Lyrics in Portuguese: Madureira Chorou

Madureira chorou
Madureira chorou de dor
Quando a voz do destino
Obedecendo ao Divino
A sua estrela chamou
Gente modesta
Gente boa do subúrbio
Que só comete distúrbio
Se alguém lhe menosprezar
Aquela gente
Que mora na Zona Norte
Até hoje chora a morte
Da estrela do lugar

Main source for this post not linked in text:  A Canção no Tempo, 85 anos de músicas brasileiras, vol. 2: 1958 – 1985, by Jairo Severiano and Zuza Homem de Mello.