luiz gonzaga2This week, Brazil paid tribute to Luiz Gonzaga, a famous folk singer and songwriter that will complete 20 years of death next month. Known as the king of baião, he was responsible for the promotion of this gender of northeastern music throughout the rest of the country.

Born in 1912 in the state of Recife, Gonzaga grew up to the sound of the instrument that his peasant father played and that was going to be his symbol: the accordion. He used to accompany his father by playing the zabumba (type of bass drum) and singing at parties and religious celebrations. In 1930, he left home to join the army and toured Brazil with an army band.

After noticing that the northeastern immigrants missed the music from their hometowns, he started to give listeners the sort of music they craved to hear: xaxados, baiões, chamegos and cocos. In 1939, decided to dedicate his life to music, Gonzaga left the army. Then he started to play at talent shows and at radio programs, which made him popular enough to start making records. The emblematic song of his career was Asa Branca.

Luiz Gonzaga died of natural causes in 1989, leaving behind a deep and poetic understanding of the northeastern truth; of the pains and sensibility of an extraordinaire people.