Born Alcione Nazaré on November 21, 1947, on São Luís do Maranhão Island, Brazil; daughter of a military musician. Addresses: Record company---Universal, 1755 Broadway, New York, NY 10019, website:

Chanteuse Alcione Nazaré, beloved in her native Brazil, is considered a standout among world samba artists. Boasting a diverse international following over a career that has spanned more than three decades, her concert appearances have taken her to ports around the world, including Europe, Puerto Rico, the former USSR, and the Middle East, as well as throughout her South American homeland. Her more than two dozen albums and compilations have achieved multi-platinum record sales. Her Ao Vivo album of 2002 won the award for Best Samba/Pagode Album at the fourth annual Latin Grammy Awards ceremony.

Alcione Nazaré, known professionally by her first name, was born on November 21, 1947, on São Luís do Maranhão Island, off the north central coast of Brazil, in São Marcos Bay. Her father, a member of the military police, was a musician who served as the conductor of the corps marching band. He was a musical mentor for his daughter, introducing her to the colorful traditions of Brazilian song and dance. Becoming engrossed in this spirited music at an early age, Alcione had barely entered her teens when she began performing as a vocalist at college parties. At the age of 13 she began to study clarinet, and eventually expanded her instrumental repertoire to include the trumpet. As her voice matured she developed a sultry, husky delivery on the lower notes while projecting a clear and pleasant lilt in the higher registers.

At age 20 she set out for Rio de Janeiro on Brazil's southeastern coast, where she worked initially at the city's TV Excelsior, but before long she was given an opportunity to go on tour in neighboring Argentina and Chile. Upon her return she settled in Sao Paolo, supporting herself with nightclub stints and television appearances. Performing as a vocalist and on trumpet, she built a following and spent two years on tour in Europe beginning in 1970.

Returning to Brazil in 1972, Alcione recorded her first single track, traveling next to Mexico in 1973 and to Portugal in 1974, where she taped a full-length album for Philips in 1975. A Voz do Samba achieved gold-level sales and produced a number of hit tracks, including Edson and Aloiso's "No Deixa O Samba Morrer" and the rhythmical "O Surdo."

The essence of Brazil's samba art form remained entrenched in the escola (samba school) culture of Rio de Janeiro. Named for the popular 2/4 dance rhythm known as samba, such organizations are called schools because of the discipline that is involved in their operation. They are a phenomenon native to the impoverished favela communities situated north of the city of Rio. Since 1928, favelas have spawned the wealth of colorful talent that emerges annually at the Brazilian Mardi Gras celebration called Carnival. Filling the streets with floats, dancers, and revelers numbering in the thousands, Carnival was a tradition unique to the locale, which grew in popularity during the mid-twentieth century, attracting upper class residents from outlying areas of Rio de Janeiro as well as wealthy tourists.

Easily recognized by town managers as a potential treasure trove of revenue, Carnival grew to a million-dollar business, drawing subsidies from the local business community as well as from government resources such as Riotur, the Brazilian tourism agency. With the evolution of video and recording rights, the celebration garnered increased visibility, and the talented musicians nurtured at the samba schools attracted many foreign fans. Alcione came to international prominence as a samba artist and achieved international recognition as a samba stylist by the late 1970s, recording Alerta Geral for Philips during that time. The album's title was taken from a television show that Alcione hosted on TV Globo for two years, and the recording was released in 1978.

Spurred by the international appeal of samba, Alcione released a string of full-length albums late in the 1970s and into the 1980s. Among these was a self-titled album that was released on Philips in 1981. Vamos Arrepiar was released in 1982, and Almas E Coracoes in 1983; Da Cor Do Brasil was issued in 1984, all on RCA-Victor. Also on RCA, Fogo Da Vida appeared in 1985 and Fruto E Raiz in 1986. Other albums from this era included Nosso Nome: Resistencia in 1987 and Ouro E Cobre in 1988. In 1988 the New York division of French-based Celluloid Records launched a unique label called Braziloid, for the purpose of spotlighting the stars and songs of Brazil. They rereleased Fruto E Raiz in 1988 and included Alcione on the album Brazil Is Back in 1989. Having established a presence in North America and elsewhere, in January of 1992 Alcione appeared at Boston's Narcissus Club in Kenmore Square, on a double bill with Tania Alves.

Alcione has been recognized for her continuous support of the samba schools. She was honored by Unidos da Ponte school in 1994, when that school took inspiration from her Alert Geral album, using it as the theme for a carnival spectacular that year. She has also been prominently associated with Rio's Mangueira school.

After signing with Universal Records in 1997, Alcione released a label debut, Valeu, through Polygram in 1998, followed by Celebracao that same year, and Claridade---Uma Homanagem A Clara Nunes in 1999. In 2001 she presented an eclectic mix of styles on Paixao Sem Memoria. This album included the tribute song "Dona Neuma é a Rosa," an homage to Dona Neuma, who had come to be revered as "First Lady" of the Mangueira school of samba.

In December of 2002 Alcione received recognition as a catalyst in founding the Paraiso school of samba in London, England. In an appearance with local musicians at that time, she launched the new organization, setting the stage for a British version of Carnival called Brasil, Paraiso dos Orixas (Brazil, Paradise of the Gods), which was scheduled to make its London debut in 2003. Presiding over two primary parade units called alas, Alcione underwrote the funding for 15- and 16-year-old students from the area to appear as ala das baianas (Bahian Unit).

Alcione also joined forces with a national contingent of musicians, putting pressure on the Brazilian senate to address the threat of wide-scale music piracy. Attempts to curtail piracy through legislative action had been waylaid repeatedly, until an action by Alcione and others in April of 2003 heightened the public's awareness of the problem. The bill was finalized quickly and signed into law in July of that year. Alcione's 2002 album, Ao Vivo, won the Latin Grammy Award for Best Samba/Pagode Album in 2003.

by G. Cooksey

Alcione's Career

Sang locally at age 13; employed at TV Excelsior, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, age 20; toured Argentina and Chile; nightclub stints and television performances as vocalist and on trumpet, Sao Paolo, Brazil, late 1960s; toured Europe, 1970-72, Mexico, 1973, and Portugal, 1974; recorded for Philips, 1975-81; debut album, A Voz do Samba, 1975; recorded for RCA-Victor, 1982-86, for BMG, 1987-97, and for Polygram, 1998; signed with Universal, 1997; contributed to the founding of Paraiso (school of samba), London, England, 2002.

Alcione's Awards

Latin Grammy Award, Best Samba/Pagode Album for Ao Vivo, 2003.

Famous Works

Further Reading



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