Cachaca, 97, Brazilian Songwriter Who Popularized Samba
By LARRY ROHTER
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil -- Carlos Cachaca, one of Brazil's most
prolific and beloved songwriters and a founder of the samba
troupe whose creativity made Rio de Janeiro's annual pre-Lenten
Carnival an international attraction, died here on Monday. He was 97.
Cachaca, whose real name was Carlos Moreira de Castro, grew up in a
poor hillside neighborhood in Rio that is today the slum Mangueira. His
stage name, which refers to a fiery sugar cane liquor popular among
Brazil's poor, was given to him at jam sessions with the same friends who
joined him in founding the Mangueira Samba School and Recreational
Society in 1928.
The troupe soon became renowned for the clever and propulsive songs it
sang every year during Carnival celebrations. Many of the songs were
written by Cachaca and his brother-in-law Cartola, who died in 1980,
and gained a huge popular following. Cachaca received few royalties
from his efforts, taking a job as a railway worker to earn a living, but
compositions like "Dawn," the lilting waltz "Clotilde" he wrote for his
and "I Don't Want to Love Anyone" remain popular even today.
"He wrote sambas that will be eternally modern," Alcione, one of the
most popular of the current generation of samba singers, said. "I'm glad
to have have had the chance to work with and learn from him."
Over the years, more than a score of other samba schools were founded,
each trying to emulate the style Mangueira created and to duplicate
Cachaca's sardonic lyrics. Their annual competition, initially frowned
upon by Rio's high society as a vulgar manifestation of the country's
African roots, eventually grew into a multimillion-dollar industry and
internationally admired expression of Brazilian culture.
"He was the roots and trunk of Mangueira," which means mango tree in
Portuguese, said Elmo Jose dos Santos, the president of the society,
which has thousands of members and millions of fans in Brazil. "If
Mangueira is what it is today, we owe it all to him and Cartola."
Two years ago, Cachaca was publicly honored for his role as an
originator of the samba and Rio's modern Carnival, parading in the
competition in a wheelchair atop a float decorated with Mangueira's
green and pink colors as thousands of onlookers applauded from box
seats. Fittingly, his group won top honors that year.
After a wake at Mangueira's rehearsal hall, Cachaca, who was the
troupe's honorary president, was buried late Monday. He is survived by
three daughters and several hundred songs.
Cachaca, at 97
By Associated Press, 08/17/99
RIO DE JANEIRO - Carlos Cachaca, whose graceful, bittersweet
compositions helped bring samba out of the slums to become Brazil's
most popular music, died yesterday of pneumonia, family members and
friends said. He was 97.
Mourners flocked to his wake at the rehearsal hall of the Mangueira samba
school, Brazil's best-known carnival group, which Mr. Cachaca helped
found in 1928.
''Samba is in mourning,'' said Herminio Belo de Carvalho, one of his many
partners. ''He was a poet who sang beautifully.''
Mr. Cachaca, whose real name was Carlos Moreira de Castro, began
composing in 1923, when samba was still largely unknown. He picked up
his nickname from the cane liquor that animated the late-night samba
sessions at the Mangueira hill shantytown, or ''favela.''
His compositions spoke of life in the favelas, and for that reason were
initially frowned on by much of Brazilian society. Among his best-known
works was Alvorada - ''Dawn'' in Portuguese - written in partnership with
the composer Cartola. It begins: ''Dawn, on the hill, such beauty, no one
weeps in sadness, no one feels bitterness.''
Mr. Cachaca lived to see samba and carnival taken over by mainstream
Brazil, and he received popular recognition, though few royalties, for
One of his last public appearances was at carnival in 1997, when he
paraded in a wheelchair atop a float and was applauded by the crowd at
Rio's ''sambadrome'' parade grounds. Fittingly, the Mangueira school was
champion that year.
Mr. Cachaca leaves three daughters. He was to be buried yesterday in Rio
This story ran on page B07 of the Boston Globe on 08/17/99.
© Copyright 1999 Globe Newspaper Company.
samba star Cachaca, 97, dies in sleep
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - One of Brazil's best-loved symbols of
samba, the bittersweet composer Carlos Cachaca, was buried
Tuesday after dying in his sleep at the age of 97, officials from the
school he helped found said.
Hundreds of family, friends and samba fans paid their last respects to
Cachaca, who was buried in a cemetery in a northern suburb of Rio
de Janeiro to the sound of some of his most famous songs played in a
funereal style. He died Monday.
Cachaca's real name was Carlos Moreira de Castro but he chose the
nickname ``Cachaca'' because he preferred to drink the traditional
fiery cane liquor of that name over beer.
Cachaca was the last living founder of the Mangueira samba school
-- by the far the most popular in Rio de Janeiro. Mangueira, a violent
shantytown located in a northern Rio suburb, has been a multiple
winner of the city's world-famous Carnival parades and has almost
become a symbol of the event.
One of Cachaca's best-remembered compositions is ``Nao quero mais
amar a ninguem'' (I don't want to love anyone anymore), written in
the 1930s, and the 1976 hit ``Alvorada.''
``He was the root of the tree of Mangueira. We have lost the master
of masters,'' the school's president Elmo Jose dos Santos was quoted
He worked for Brazil's state railways for 40 years before his