A Brazilian singer/songwriter, Chico Buarque (born June 19th, 1944 in Rio de Janeiro) has become famous for his music, which comments on Brazil's social, economic and cultural situation. His full name is Francisco Buarque de Holanda.
Chico (as he is widely known in Brazil) came from a both intellectual and privileged family background: father Sergio Buarque de Holanda was a well-known historian and sociologist, and the first name of lexicographer and forebear Aurelio Buarque de Holanda is as strongly associated with Brazilian dictionaries as the name Webster is with American ones. A studious child with a precocious interest in music and writing, Chico was heavily impressed by bossa nova, and specifically, the work of Joao Gilberto.
Chico made his public debut as musician and composer in 1964, rapidly building his reputation at music festivals and television variety shows. His self-titled debut album exemplified the work to come, with catchy sambas characterized by inventive wordplay and an undercurrent of nostalgic tragedy.
Chico's increasing political activity against the Brazilian military dictatorship results in his arrest in 1968, and eventual self-exile to Italy in 1969. Chico returns to Brazil in 1970, using his fame and song-writing skills to protest the dictatorship. At this time his lightly-veiled protest single "Apesar de Voce" (In spite of you) somehow passes by the gaze of military censors, becoming the democracy movement's anthem. After selling over 100,000 copies, the single is eventually repressed, and all copies are removed from the market. In spite of the censors, songs such as "Samba de Orly" (Samba of Orly; 1970), "Acorda Amor" (Wake Up, Love; 1974), and "Vai Passar" (It Will Pass; 1983) make plain Chico's continuing opposition.
During the 1970s and 1980s, Chico collaborated with filmmakers, playwrights, and musicians, often running afoul of the military government and timorous music publishers.
During Brazil's military coup of 1964, Chico wrote about the situation and avoided censure by using cryptic analogies and word play. For example, using the Portuguese words for "shut up" (cale-se) and "chalice" (cálice) allowed Chico to sing about the military's oppression under the guise of a bible story in the song "Cálice."
Lyric in Portuguese
Pai, afasta de mim esse cálice
De vinho tinto de sangue.
Como beber dessa bebida amarga
Tragar a dor, engolir a labuta.
Mesmo calada a boca, resta o peito
Silêncio na cidade não se escuta.
De que me vale ser filho da santa
Melhor seria ser filho da outra
Outra realidade menos morta
Tanta mentira, tanta força bruta.
Father, take away this chalice
of wine tinted red with blood. Literally: Of wine tinted of blood.
How can I drink from this sour drink
Take in the pain, swallow the drudgery.
Even if the mouth is shut, the heart still remains
Silence isn't heard in the city.
What good is it to be son of the saint (female)
It would be better to be son of another
Another reality less dead
So many lies, so much brute force.