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One of the most important artists of the bossa nova movement, Carlos Lyra was also an intellectual behind the movement, forging new directions like the protest song. Lyra wrote some of the best moments of the bossa nova on his own or together with illustrious partners like Vinícius de Moraes. With Roberto Menescal, Carlos Lyra created a guitar academy that became a meeting point for future artists like Edu Lobo, Marcos Valle, Nara Leão, and Ronaldo Bôscoli. In 1954, Geraldo Vandré interpreted his song "Menina" in a festival; it was recorded in the next year by Sílvia Telles. Three years later, Os Cariocas recorded his "Criticando." In 1959, João Gilberto included three of Lyra's compositions: "Maria Ninguém," "Lobo Bobo," and "Saudade Fez um Samba" (the latter two written with Bôscoli) in his Chega de Saudade (a landmark in the bossa nova genre). Lyra recorded his first solo album in that year, Carlos Lyra - Bossa Nova. Interested in a more active political militancy, Lyra wrote soundtracks for plays like Vianinha's A Mais-Valia Vai Acabar, Seu Edgar. That same year, Lyra met Vinícius de Moraes, with whom he would write bossa nova classics like "Você e Eu," "Minha Namorada," "Marcha da Quarta-Feira de Cinzas," and "Coisa Mais Linda." His social concerns took him to the CPC (Popular Center of Culture), where he would brew the protest song derived from the bossa nova, seen by him and other composers like Edu Lobo, Geraldo Vandré, and Chico Buarque as reactionary. The immediate result of his cultural activity was a partnership with Zé Kéti in the "Samba da Legalidade," influencing the formation of the historic Opinião show, which had Nara Leão, Maria Bethânia, Zé Kéti, and João do Vale in a highly politicized text. In 1962, Lyra participated in the Bossa Nova Festival in the Carnegie Hall (New York). In the next year, Lyra wrote the soundtrack of the film Bonitinha Mas Ordinária, over text by Nelson Rodrigues. In 1964, he appeared in the Newport Festival with Stan Getz, touring with him in the following year through U.S, Canada, Europe, and Japan. In 1965, he also recorded with Paul Winter. From that year on, he spent several years in Mexico, where he worked intensively as composer of soundtracks for short subjects and plays. In 1983, he started his partnership with Paulo César Pinheiro. Four years later, he performed in Spain with Caetano Veloso, Toquinho, and Nana Caymmi. In 1988, he played in Japan with Leila Pinheiro and the Quarteto em Cy. In 1992, Lyra toured Spain and Portugal and performed at the Pescara Jazz Festival together with Gerry Mulligan and Gary Burton. In 1997, Lyra opened the show 40 Years of Bossa Nova in Tokyo (Japan), together with Roberto Menescal, Leila Pinheiro, and Astrud Gilberto.
Carlos Lyra is a Brazilian singer and composer of numerous bossa nova and Música Popular Brasileira classics. He was born on May 11, 1939. He and Antonio Carlos Jobim, were the first two music composers, together with lyricists Vinicius de Moraes and Ronaldo Boscoli, to be recorded by João Gilberto on his first LP entitled Chega de Saudade (1959), which was called the first generation of Bossa Nova.
His first song to be recorded was "Menina" (1954), issued as a single by Silvia Telles in 1955, with "Foi a noite" by Antonio Carlos Jobim on the other side of the record. The writers first met because of this single, when Jobim called Lyra "the other side of the record". At that time, both were writing their own music & lyrics creating a coloquial and completely new style. They wrote about their own experiences and feelings. A completely different lyrical style from most songs written that time.
His first compositions (music &lyrics), from 1954 to 1956 included: "Quando chegares"; "Menina";" Barquinho de Papel"; "Ciúme"; "Criticando" and "Maria Ninguém". In 1957 he started to compose together with the lyricist Ronaldo Bôscoli, songs such as "Lobo bobo", "Saudade fez um samba" and" Se é tarde me perdoa". In 1958 wrote "Aruanda" and "Quem quiser encontrar o amor", with Geraldo Vandré. In 1960 he started to compose together with Vinicius de Moraes, songs as "Você e eu"; "Coisa mais linda", Sabe você?", "Samba do Carioca"; "Maria Moita" and many others. They wrote together a musical play, in 1962, called "Pobre Menina Rica" (Poor little rich girl blue).
In 1961 he was one of the five founders of CPC (Center of Popular Culture) where he started to write songs for cinema and theater. He also wrote the song "Influência do Jazz", one of the songs he sang at the Bossa Nova Concert at Carnegie Hall, in 1962.
He continues to compose, record, and perform today.
Lyra's most famous compositions include "Coisa Mais Linda", "Você e Eu", "Maria Ninguém" (once claimed by Jacqueline Kennedy to be her favorite song), and "Influência do Jazz".
Referring to Tom Jobim's song, Samba do Avião (Song of the Jet), where it says "My soul sings / I see Rio de Janeiro", he said that his soul only sings when he gets into the South Zone of the city - region where lies all the Rio's famous beaches. He was specifically referring to coming out of the Rebouças Tunnel. Rebouças is a major tunnel that links the North to the South Zone of Rio de Janeiro.