The “Greta Garbo of Rio,” Maria Bethânia is the counter-culture’s muse, diva, and a cult figure of Brazilian music. She took on the role of heiress to an ancient, black tradition of Brazilian music. “Maria has a unique nature,” her older brother, Caetano Veloso, explains. Dramatic temperament not at all present in the bossa-nova was required for this kind of music. She therefore sang sambas dating from before the bossa-nova, and new songs that changed the samba and that spoke of great, passionate love or rural life in the Nordeste.
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