Aquarela do Brasil

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"Aquarela do Brasil"
English titleBrazil
Composer(s)Ary Barroso
Lyricist(s)Ary Barroso, Bob Russell (English version)

"Aquarela do Brasil" (Portuguese: [akwaˈɾɛlɐ du bɾaˈziw], Watercolor of Brazil), written by Ary Barroso in 1939 and known in the English-speaking world simply as "Brazil", is one of the most famous Brazilian songs.

Background and composition[edit]

Ary Barroso wrote "Aquarela do Brasil" in early 1939, when he was prevented from leaving his home one rainy night due to a heavy storm. Its title, a reference to watercolor painting, is a clear reference to the rain. He also wrote "Três lágrimas" (Three Teardrops) on that same night, before the rain ended.[1]

Describing the song in an interview to Marisa Lira, of the newspaper Diário de Notícias, Barroso said that he wanted to "free the samba away from the tragedies of life, of the sensual scenario already so explored". According to the composer, he "felt all the greatness, the value and the wealth of our land", reliving "the tradition of the national panels".[1]

Initially, he wrote the first chords, which he defined as "vibrant", and a "plangent of emotions". The original beat "sang on [his] imagination, highlighting the sound of the rain, on syncope beats of fantastic tambourins". According to him, "the rest came naturally, music and lyrics at once". He declared to have felt like another person after writing the song.[1]

Release and reception[edit]

Before being recorded, "Aquarela do Brasil", initially named "Aquarela brasileira", was performed by the baritone Cândido Botelho [pt] on Joujoux e Balangandans, a benefit concert sponsored by Darci Vargas, then the First Lady of Brazil. It was then recorded by Francisco de Morais Alves, arranged by Radamés Gnattali and his orchestra, and released by Odeon Records in August 1939.[1][2] It was also recorded by Araci Cortes, but despite the singer's huge popularity at the time, the song was not a success, perhaps because the song was not adjusted to her tenor voice.

"Aquarela do Brasil" took a while to succeed. In 1940, it was not among the top three songs of that year's Carnival in Rio. The president of the jury was Heitor Villa-Lobos, and Barroso, offended that his masterpiece was not on the list, ended his relationship with him. The two men would only speak to each other again fifteen years later, when both received the National Order of Merit.[1][2]

The song only became famous after it was included in Walt Disney's 1942 animated film Saludos Amigos, sung by Aloísio de Oliveira. After that, the song became known not only in Brazil, but worldwide, becoming the first Brazilian song to be played over a million times on American radio.[1][2] Due to the huge popularity achieved in the United States, it received an English version by songwriter Bob Russell.[1][2]

It was voted by the Brazilian edition of Rolling Stone as the 12th greatest Brazilian song.[3]


This song, because of its exaltation of Brazil's great qualities, marked the creation of a new genre within samba, known as samba-exaltação (exaltation samba). This musical movement, with its extremely patriotic nature, was seen by many as being favorable to the dictatorship of Getúlio Vargas, generating criticism towards Barroso and his work, which was perceived as Barroso's prostration to the regime. The Barroso family, however, strongly denies these claims, pointing out that he also wrote an anti-Nazi song named "Salada Mista" (Mixed salad), recorded by Carmen Miranda in October 1938. Vargas, although not a fascist himself, was as sympathetic to such regimes in the early years of his presidency as the European governments of the time.[4]

The Department of Press and Propaganda, the official censorship body of the regime, wanted to censor the verse "terra do samba e do pandeiro" ("land of samba and the pandeiro"), which was seen as being "derogatory" for Brazil's image. Barroso persuaded the censors to keep the line.[5]

Some criticism to the song, at the time, was that it used expressions little known by the general public, such as "inzoneiro", "merencória", and "trigueiro" (intriguing, melancholic, and swarthy), and that he was too redundant in the verses "meu Brasil brasileiro" ("my Brazilian Brazil") and "esse coqueiro que dá coco" ("this coconut palm that produces coconut"). The composer defended his work, saying that these expressions were poetic effects inseparable from the original composition. On the original recording, Alves sang "mulato risoneiro" (laughing mulatto) instead of "inzoneiro" because he was unable to understand Barroso's illegible handwriting.[6]


Portuguese lyrics English translation from the Portuguese S. K. (Bob) Russell English Lyrics

Brasil, meu Brasil Brasileiro,
Meu mulato inzoneiro,
Vou cantar-te nos meus versos:
O Brasil, samba que dá,
Bamboleio, que faz gingar;
O Brasil do meu amor,
Terra de Nosso Senhor.
Brasil!... (Brasil!) Prá mim!... (Prá mim!...)
Ô, abre a cortina do passado;
Tira a mãe preta do cerrado;
Bota o rei congo no congado.
Brasil!... (Brasil!)
Deixa cantar de novo o trovador,
À merencória à luz da lua,
Toda canção do meu amor.
Quero ver essa Dona caminhando,
Pelos salões, arrastando,
O seu vestido rendado.
Brasil!... (Brasil!) Prá mim ... (Prá mim!...)
Brasil, terra boa e gostosa,
Da moreninha sestrosa,
De olhar indiferente.
O Brasil, verde que dá,
Para o mundo admirar.
O Brasil do meu amor,
Terra de Nosso Senhor.
Brasil!... (Brasil!) Prá mim ... (Prá mim!...)
Esse coqueiro que dá coco,
Onde eu amarro a minha rede,
Nas noites claras de luar.
Brasil!... (Brasil!...)
Ô! Estas fontes murmurantes,
Onde eu mato a minha sede,
E onde a lua vem brincar.
Ô! Esse Brasil lindo e trigueiro,
É o meu Brasil Brasileiro,
Terra de samba e pandeiro.
Brasil!... (Brasil!...) Prá mim!... (Prá mim!...)

Brazil, my Brazilian Brazil,
My intriguing mulatto,
I will sing you in my verses:
Brazil, samba that gives,
A swaying that makes you waddle;
Brazil of my love,
Land of our Lord.
Brazil! Brazil! For me! For me!
Oh, open the curtains of the past;
Take the black Mother from the cerrado;*
Put the Congo king in the congado.
Brazil! Brazil!
Let the minstrel sing again,
Under the melancholic moonlight,
All the songs of my love.
I want to see this lady walking,
Through the halls, dragging
Her garments made of lace.
Brazil! Brazil! For me! For me!
Brazil, beautiful and pleasant land,
Of the mischievous brunette little girl,
With her air of indifference.
Brazil, a greenness that is offered
For the admiration of the world.
Brazil of my love,
Land of our Lord.
Brazil! Brazil! For me! For me!
This coconut tree that gives coconuts,
Where I tie my hammock
In the bright moonlit nights.
Brazil! Brazil!
Oh! These murmuring fountains,
Where I quench my thirst,
And where the moon comes to play.
Oh! This Brazil, beautiful and swarthy,
Is my Brazilian Brazil,
Land of samba and tambourine,
Brazil! Brazil! For me! For me!


Brazil ...
The Brazil that I knew
Where I wandered with you
Lives in my imagination

Where the songs are passionate
And a smile has flash in it
And a kiss has art in it
For you put your heart in it

And so I dream of old ...

(Most recordings start here)

Brazil ...

Where hearts were entertaining June
We stood beneath an amber moon
And softly murmer'd "some day soon"
We kissed and clung together

Tomorrow was another day
The morning found me miles away
With still a million things to say

When twilight dims the sky above
Recalling thrills of our love
There's one thing I'm certain of

Return I will
To old Brazil

The Portuguese lyrics are as sung by Francisco Alves (chorus in brackets). The S. K. Russel English version is from the sheet music by Southern Music Publishing Company. The tune of the first four lines of the introduction is the same as the first instrumental break in the Alves version.

Notable recordings[edit]

1942 Jimmy Dorsey recording on Decca, 18460B. 2008 Grammy Hall of Fame inductee.

The song has received many successful recordings through the years, being played in many different genres, ranging from its original samba genre to disco. It is one of the 20 most recorded songs of all time.[7]

In 1943, Spanish-born bandleader Xavier Cugat reached number two on the Best Sellers List and number nine on the Harlem Hit Parade with his version of "Brazil".[8] Django Reinhardt recorded "Brazil" three times between 1947 and 1953. In 1957, Frank Sinatra recorded the song in Come Fly With Me. He was followed by other successful artists of the time such as Bing Crosby, Ray Conniff, and Paul Anka.

During the Brazilian military dictatorship, MPB singer Elis Regina performed what is perhaps the darkest version ever of "Aquarela do Brasil", accompanied by a chorus of men reproducing chants of the Native Brazilians. In 1975, American band The Ritchie Family reached number-one on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart for seven weeks and number eleven Pop with their disco version of the song.[9]

Single by The Ritchie Family
from the album Brazil
B-side"Hot Trip"
Length3:14 (7" version)
4:58 (Album version)
Label20th Century
Songwriter(s)Ary Barroso
Producer(s)Jacques Morali
The Ritchie Family singles chronology
"I Want to Dance with You (Dance with Me)"

Other successful Brazilian singers such as Antônio Carlos Jobim, Erasmo Carlos, João Gilberto (with Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, and Maria Bethânia), Gal Costa, and Simone also recorded versions of the song at the same period.

The song was featured prominently in Terry Gilliam's 1985 film Brazil, which was named after it. It was recorded by Geoff Muldaur for the soundtrack, but parts of the song were also incorporated throughout the orchestral score by Michael Kamen, including a Kate Bush version. Afterwards, in the 1990s, it was recorded by both Harry Belafonte and Dionne Warwick.

In 2007, singer-songwriter Daniela Mercury, which recorded the most recent cover of the song by a Brazilian artist, was invited to perform the song at the end of the opening ceremony of the XV Pan American Games, held in Rio de Janeiro.

In 2009, the Recording Academy added the 1942 recording of "Brazil (Aquarela do Brasil)" by Jimmy Dorsey & His Orchestra, released as Decca 18460B, to the Grammy Hall of Fame.[10][11] Jimmy Dorsey was the first to record the song on July 14, 1942, and release it with the English lyrics by Bob Russell sung by Bob Eberly and Helen O'Connell.[12]

Also in 2009, American band Beirut performed "Brazil" for their live DVD Beirut: Live At The Music Hall Of Williamsburg.

ITV used a cover of this song by Thiago Thomé as the theme song for their coverage of the 2014 FIFA World Cup which took place in Brazil in June and July 2014. During the tournament's opening ceremony, its first verses were performed live by Brazilian singer Claudia Leitte before being joined onstage by Pitbull and Jennifer Lopez to sing "We Are One (Ole Ola)".

Year Artist Album Source
1939 Francisco Alves Odeon 11768 (78 rpm record) [13][14][15]
1942 Sylvio Caldas 78 rpm record
1942 Xavier Cugat 78 rpm record [16]
1947 Django Reinhardt Quintette du Hot Club de France
1957 Frank Sinatra Come Fly With Me
1958 The Coasters The Coasters [17]
1958 Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney Fancy Meeting You Here
1958 The Four Freshmen Voices In Latin
1960 Ray Conniff Say It with Music (A Touch of Latin) [1]
1963 Paul Anka Our Man Around the World [2]
1965 The Shadows The Sound of The Shadows
1968 Geoff & Maria Muldaur Pottery Pie [3]
1969 Elis Regina Honeysuckle Rose Aquarela Do Brasil [4]
1970 Antônio Carlos Jobim Stone Flower [5]
1970 Erasmo Carlos Erasmo Carlos & Os Tremendões [6]
1974 Santana Lotus (quoted in "Samba Pa Ti")
1975 Elis Regina A Arte de Elis Regina [7]
1975 Crispy & Co. Tonight at the Discotheque
1975 The Ritchie Family Brazil [18]
1976 Chet Atkins and Les Paul Guitar Monsters [8]
1980 Gal Costa Aquarela do Brasil [9]
1980 Simone Ao Vivo [10]
1981 João Gilberto, Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil Brasil
1981 Tav Falco's Panther Burns Behind The Magnolia Curtain [11]
1984 Egberto Gismonti and Naná Vasconcelos Duas Vozes
1987 Ney Matogrosso Pescador de Pérolas [12]
1990 Harry Belafonte Around the World with the Entertainers [13]
1991 Deborah Blando A Different Story [14]
1995 Dionne Warwick Aquarela do Brazil [15]
1995 8½ Souvenirs Happy Feet
1997 Gal Costa Acústico (Mtv) [16]
1997 Pink Martini Sympathique [17]
1998 Vengaboys The Party Album
1999 Jun Miyake Glam Exotica!
2000 Rosemary Clooney Brazil [18]
2002 Cornelius Point
2002 Metrô Déjà-Vu
2004 Martinho da Vila Apresenta Mané do Cavaco [19]
2005 Arcade Fire "Cold Wind" (B-side)
"Rebellion (Lies)" (B-side)
2005 Daniela Mercury Balé Mulato [20]
2005 Plácido Domingo Lo Essencial de [21]
2007 Chick Corea & Béla Fleck The Enchantment [22]
2009 Beirut Beirut: Live At The Music Hall Of Williamsburg (DVD) [23]
2009 The Spinto Band Slim and Slender [24] Archived 2009-10-13 at the Wayback Machine
2012 Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra Walkin'
2014 Claudia Leitte We Are One (World Cup Opening Ceremony Version)
Loona Brazil
Bellini Festival
2016 Leslie Odom, Jr. Leslie Odom, Jr.

Usage in popular culture[edit]


Year Film Director
1942 Saludos Amigos Walt Disney
1943 Gals, Incorporated (1943 film, Russel English lyrics) [19] Leslie Goodwins
1943 The Gang's All Here Busby Berkeley
1944 The Three Caballeros Walt Disney
1946 Notorious Alfred Hitchcock
1947 Road to Rio Norman Z. McLeod
1948 Sitting Pretty Walter Lang
1954 A Star Is Born George Cukor
1956 The Eddy Duchin Story George Sidney
1961 A Difficult Life Dino Risi
1963 Charley's Aunt Géza von Cziffra
1976 Silent Movie Mel Brooks
1980 Stardust Memories Woody Allen
1985 Brazil Terry Gilliam
1995 Carmen Miranda: Bananas is My Business Helena Solberg
1998 There's Something About Mary Farrelly brothers
1999 Three to Tango Damon Santostefano
1999 Being John Malkovich (Trailer) Spike Jonze
2003 Carandiru Héctor Babenco
2003 Something's Gotta Give Nancy Meyers
2004 The Aviator Martin Scorsese
2007 Bee Movie (Trailer) Simon J. Smith & Steve Hickner
2008 Australia Baz Luhrmann
2008 WALL-E (Trailer) Andrew Stanton
2014 Mr. Peabody & Sherman Rob Minkoff
2017 My Scientology Movie (Trailer) John Dower
2017 Star Wars: The Last Jedi Rian Johnson
2018 The Grinch Scott Mosier & Yarrow Cheney

Television programs

Year TV Series Episode
1962 The Jetsons Las Venus – Solar Sambaramba
1966 The Andy Griffith Show Season 7 – Episode 20:Andy's Old Girlfriend
1966–1967 Dark Shadows Played at The Blue Whale bar
1982 SCTV Series 5, Cycle 4 – Towering Inferno with Banda Brava (Words To Live By segment)
1995 Duckman Season 2 – Episode 8: "Research and Destroy"
2002 The Simpsons "Blame It on Lisa"
2004 Miss Marple "The Body in the Library"
2007 Vidas Opostas Theme song
2008 Eli Stone Theme song and during episode previews
2011 Let's Dance Episode 5 – Bernd Herzsprung's Samba
2012 My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic Episode 39 – Intro plays briefly when Pinkie Pie is trying to persuade the Cakes to hire her as babysitter.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g (in Portuguese) About "Aquarela do Brasil" at blog Cifra Antiga. Accessed on March 30, 2009.
  2. ^ a b c d (in Portuguese) Dicionário Cravo Albin de Música Popular Brasileira. Ary Barroso - Artistic database Archived 2015-06-08 at the Wayback Machine. Accessed on March 30, 2009.
  3. ^ Spessoto, Toninho (2009). "As 100 Maiores Músicas Brasileiras - "Aquarela do Brasil"". Rolling Stone Brasil (in Portuguese). Spring. Retrieved 6 January 2014.
  4. ^ THOMPSON, Daniella. "The political side of Ary Barroso". Published on August 6, 2002. Accessed on March 30, 2009.
  5. ^ (in Portuguese) Information about "Aquarela do Brasil" - quotes CABRAL, Sérgio. No tempo de Ary Barroso. Rio de Janeiro, Lumiar, s/d, p.179 at WebCite (archived 2009-10-25). Accessed on March 30, 2009. Archived 2009-10-25.
  6. ^ (in Portuguese) Information about "Aquarela do Brasil" at WebCite (archived 2009-10-25). Accessed on March 30, 2009. Archived 2009-10-25.
  7. ^ Craig Harris. "Ary Barroso Biography". Archived from the original on 2014-07-15. Retrieved 2013-01-09.
  8. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 141.
  9. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Hot Dance/Disco: 1974-2003. Record Research. p. 218.
  10. ^ 28 Titles Being Added to Grammy Hall of Fame[permanent dead link]
  11. ^ Grammy Hall of Fame award Archived June 26, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ Brazil. Second Hand Songs.
  13. ^ Francisco Alves Com Radamés E Sua Orquestra – Aquarela Do Brasil. Retrieved December 3, 2020
  14. ^ (YouTube) Francisco Alves Retrieved July 12, 2019.
  15. ^ Odeon Records Retrieved July 12, 2019.
  16. ^ "Pop Chronicles 1940s Program #9". 1972.
  17. ^ The Coasters, The Coasters Retrieved February 8, 2012.
  18. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Hot Dance/Disco: 1974-2003. Record Research. p. 218.
  19. ^ IMDB Gals, Incorporated (1943 film, Russel English lyrics)[user-generated source]

External links[edit]