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Singer Seu Jorge spearheaded the Brazilian samba renaissance of the early 21st century, expanding his audience far beyond South America via featured roles in the internationally acclaimed films City of God and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. Born Jorge Mario da Silva on June 8, 1970, he spent his childhood in the slums of Rio de Janeiro, working odd jobs to survive. While serving his year of compulsory military service, he also played cornet in a Brazilian army band. In 1991, Jorge's 16-year-old brother was killed by Rio police. At the funeral he met Gabriel Moura, nephew of Brazilian saxophonist Paolo Maura, who agreed to put Jorge in touch with other aspiring musicians looking to form a band. He spent the next three years teaching himself guitar, and in 1993 was hired as an actor and musician with Tuerj, a theatrical troupe sponsored by the Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro. Jorge appeared in close to two dozen Tuerj productions in the months to follow before exiting in 1996 to lead Farofa Carioca, a major-label Brazilian pop outfit that sold few records but nevertheless anticipated the commercial revival of samba.
Adopting the name Seu Jorge -- Seu, an abbreviation of "senhor," is a venerable Brazilian honorific -- his dusky baritone and charismatic stage presence immediately attracted attention and in 1999 he left Farofa Carioca to mount a solo career, collaborating with Beastie Boys producer Mario Caldato on the commercial and critical smash Samba Esporte Fino. In 2002, Jorge was cast as Knockout Ned in director Fernando Meirelles' Academy Award-nominated City of God -- two years later he co-starred in Wes Anderson's The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou as Pelé Dos Santos, a member of an oceanography crew with a penchant for singing David Bowie covers in Portuguese. The project introduced many filmgoers to Jorge's musical career and greatly elevated the global profile of his sophomore solo effort, the acclaimed 2004 release Cru. The Life Aquatic Studio Sessions, assembling all 14 of the songs he recorded for the film, followed in late 2005. América Brasil: O Disco appeared in 2008 from Naïve Records, with Seu Jorge and Almaz arriving in 2010.
Seu Jorge (born June 8, 1970; Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈsew ˈʒɔʁʒi]) is a Brazilian musician, singer/songwriter and actor. Born Jorge Mário da Silva, he was raised in a favela in what is now known as the city of Belford Roxo. Belford Roxo is located north of city of Rio de Janeiro in Rio de Janeiro state in the Baixada Fluminense region. When he was 19, he became homeless and remained homeless for 3 years, nonetheless, his musical talent flourished when he was living in the streets and he became known in the "favelas". Due to its proximity, Belford Roxo is considered part of the larger metropolitan area of Rio de Janeiro. He is considered by many a renewer of Brazilian pop samba. Seu Jorge cites samba schools, and American soul singer Stevie Wonder as major musical influences.
As a singer, Seu Jorge was part of the band Farofa Carioca, writing most of the songs of their 1998 debut album Moro no Brasil. In 2001 he released Samba Esporte Fino, a pop album influenced by musicians Jorge Ben Jor, Gilberto Gil, and Milton Nascimento. It was released outside Brazil under the name Carolina in 2003. His second album, the critically acclaimed Cru ("Raw"), was released in 2005. Seu Jorge also recorded the live duo album "Ana & Jorge" with Brazilian singer Ana Carolina, released in Brazil in 2005.
Seu Jorge has gained exposure through his work as an actor and soundtrack composer. He appeared in the critically acclaimed 2002 film City of God as Mané Galinha, directed by filmmaker Fernando Meirelles, and then played Pelé dos Santos in Wes Anderson's The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, for which he provided much of the soundtrack in the form of Portuguese language cover versions of David Bowie classics. Bowie later went on to say about Seu's cover album, The Life Aquatic Studio Sessions, that "had Seu Jorge not recorded my songs in Portuguese I would never have heard this new level of beauty which he has imbued them with."
In June 2006, he performed at Bonnaroo music festival in Tennessee and at the Festival Sudoeste TMN in Portugal. He has also performed in 2006 at the Bluesfest in Ottawa and performed at the Harbourfront in Toronto. Jorge's performances are known for their excitement as well as for getting the crowd moving. In January 2010 he performed with Thievery Corporation at the Austin City Limits, which was later broadcast on PBS.
His album 'América Brasil' had a limited Brazilian release in 2007 under his label Cafuné Gravadora, distributed in the UK by Proper Music Distribution. In May 2010, Now-Again Records announced that Jorge's new album, Seu Jorge & Almaz, a collaboration with drummer Pupillo and guitarist Lucio Maia from Nação Zumbi and bassist and composer Antonio Pinto would be released in North America, Japan, Australia and New Zealand on July 27 and in Europe on September 14. The album has been described as "how powerful Brazilian soul music can be."
In 2011, he collaborated with Beck on the Mario C. remix of "Tropicália" for the Red Hot Organization's most recent charitable album "Red Hot+Rio 2." The album is a follow-up to the 1996 "Red Hot+Rio." Proceeds from the sales will be donated to raise awareness and money to fight AIDS/HIV and related health and social issues.
In 2012, he collaborated with American fashion designer Rachel Roy on a line of sportswear, footwear, jewelry and handbags. The collaboration is part of Macy's new campaign spotlighting Brazil and its culture and is available exclusively at Macy's and on Rachel Roy's website.
On August 12, 2012, Seu Jorge performed in the 2012 Summer Olympics closing ceremony in London during the Handover section of the ceremony which was an eight minute segment that introduced Rio to the world. Jorge performed alongside Rio artists B Negão, and Marisa Monte and concluded with a surprise appearance by Pele.
Seu Jorge appeared on rapper Talib Kweli's May, 2013 album, "Prisoner of Conscious", on the song Favela Love.