I would like to dedicate this post to Niall, whose generous praise is greatly appreciated.
A happy life?
Born in a favela in Rio in 1937, Elza was raped when she was 12. Because she became pregnant she had to marry the man who raped her. Her first three children died as newborns, but she was a mother of four by the age of 25. Elza had her first taste of success on Ary Barroso’s radio show when she was still in her teens. Soares became popular with her first single Se Acaso Você Chegasse, on which she sang Louis Armstrong style scat with her trademark husky voice, combining samba and jazz .
After finishing her second LP, A Bossa Negra, Elza went to Chile to represent Brazil in the festival that accompanied the 1962 FIFA World Cup. It was there that she met Mané Garrincha. Of course, we’ve had posts on Mané Garrincha (1933-1983) here before, and there will be more in the the future- the most talented individual ever to play football- as Alex Bellos wrote: Pelé was admired, Garrincha was adored.
According to tradition Elza entered the dressing room where the players were celebrating and embraced the naked Mané, who had made a tremendous contribution to Brazil’s success throughout the tournament.
At the time Mané still lived in the same abject style as when he had been a textile worker. He was married to Nair Marques (married in 1952, they divorced in 1965), a factory worker from Pau Grande with whom he had eight daughters. He also fathered two children with another Pau Grande girl, Iraci, whom he ‘kept’ in Rio, as well as a son by a Swedish girl he had met whilst on tour with Botafogo. By the time of his death he had fathered at least 14 children.
Mané and Elza married in 1966; as Elza had also been married before, the Brazilian press were critical of the marriage.
The couple were harassed by neighbours in the upmarket Rio suburb where they lived; when they visited Pau Grande they were attacked. The public resented the apparent wordly influence that Elza exerted over Mané- for example he began to negotiate more just contracts with his club. In the past he had been content to sign blank contracts and allowed his earnings to rot away in drawers in his house. As Mané’s famously crooked legs began to give out and he played less he succumbed to alcoholism, and their relationship became increasingly stormy. Shortly after the 1966 World Cup Mané crashed his car, killing Elza’s mother. His record with cars was not good- he had previously run over his father and Elza had had some teeth smashed out in another prang* . Mané was also sexually insatiable, and had affairs. His virility, and his large penis, were the stuff of legend- in 1959 a song in his praise was suppressed because the line Mané, who was born in Pau Grande sounded very much like Mané, who was born with a pau grande, which is slang for big dick.Ruy Castro, his biographer was sued by members of Mané’s family for asserting that his manhood was 25cm- the judge booted the case out- how could it be libel to say that a Brazilian man was well hung? Strangely no one took offence at Castro’s revelation that Mané’s earliest sexual experience had been with a goat…apparently not unusual in Pau Grande in those days.
Mané and Elza separated in 1977, when she left him after he struck her. (In the notorious psychometric testing prior to the 1958 World Cup Mané had scored zero for aggression).
Elza Soares remains active in the world of music, and she is not afraid to move with the times. There are a number of her records available to download at Loronix, from the early jazz-samba through to the samba-soul sound of the 1970’s.In 2000 the BBC gave her a Singer of the Century award.
Here is 2004’s Vivo Feliz album , which mixes samba and bossa with modern electronic music and effects, and features collaborations with a number of leading techno/hip-hop/ artists (I’m never to sure of the terminology for the modern stuff. Anyway- it’s a great sound).
Here’s the link: http://rapidshare.com/files/377788825/Elza_Soares.rar
* this bad luck with cars would haunt the family into the next generation-
In 1985 Mané and Elza’s son Garrinchinha died in an auto crash on the same stretch of road on which Elza’s mother had died. His son (with Iraci) Nenem, who played for Fulminense, died in a car crash in 1992. His grandson was run over and killed in Pau Grande in 2001.
The following books were invaluable in the preparation of this post:
Estrela Solitária – Ruy Castro
Futebol: The Brazilian Way of Life -Alex Bellos