Friday, May 09, 2008

Canhoto da Paraíba (1926-2008)

A couple of days ago I learned the sad news that Canhoto da Paraíba (Francisco Soares de Araújo) passed away on the 24th of April following a heart attack. The choro music scene throughout the world has lost a legendary artist, who ranked alongside the greatest exponents of this Brazilian music style from the generation of Pixinguinha, Radamés Gnattali and Jacob do Bandolim.

Francisco Soares de Araújo was born 1926 in a family of musicians in Princesa Isabel, Pernambuco state (- North East of Brazil), and started very young to practise guitarplaying in a peculiar and not very common way. Becuse there was only one instrument in the house to share with his siblings, the lefthanded boy had to find a way to play the instrument without changing the position of the strings, but still played the inverted way! He developed a unique technique that allowed him to do so, and he was soon admired and famous in his neighborhood for being a unique and virtuosic master of the violão.

Canhoto began his career at Radio Tabajara of Joao Pessoa, in 1953, later he would move to Recife, PA, where his local fame would be extended, and in 1959 he was invited to Rio de Janeiro to take part in the famous roda de choros at the home of Jacob do Bandolim. He had success following the meeting with the cream of choro, he was admired for his abilities both as a musician and composer by the likes of Pixinguinha, Radamés Gnattali and Jacob do Bandolim. During his career Canhoto composed more than 80 pieces belonging to the core of choro and MPB, and he recorded three solo albums, "Único amor” (1968), “O violão brasileiro tocado pelo avesso” (1977) and Pisando em brasa” (1993), further he recorded with the Zimbo Trio in an album, “Instrumental no CCBB – Canhoto da Paraíba e Zimbo Trio” (1993).

In 1998 Canhoto had a cerebral ischemia that left the left side of his body paralyzed, preventing him from playing. He was taken care of by his family in Recife during his last years, and in 2004 he was granted a lifelong salary by the state in honor of his artistic career and importance as a culturel ambassordor of the Pernambucan music tradition. At his death last month the state govenour even decreed an official morning for three days in honor of this great artist.

In remembrance of Canhoto da Paraíba I insert a couple of videos, which show examples of his genius both as a musician and composer.

The first video is from a TV program, a portrait of Canhoto da Paraíba, where you can watch him playing in his unique style

The second video is from a roda da choro earlier this year featuring Mauricio Carrilho & Glauber Seixas playing "Tua Imagem", one of the famous compositions by Canhoto

To end this, I found an uploaded video with stills and music extracts from the cd by Canhoto da Paraíba, “O violão brasileiro tocado pelo avesso” (1977)



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