The Undisputed Master

Today we’re celebrating the 77th birthday of Brazilian musician–composer, producer, keyboardist, arranger, bandleader, pianist, songwriter, and vocalist (whew!)–Sérgio Mendes.   Born in Niterói, Brazil, Mendes’ early dreams of becoming a classical pianist blossomed into a love of jazz.  He began playing in nightclubs when  bossa nova, a jazzy derivative of samba, was becoming more popular.  In 1961, Mendes formed  the Sexteto Bossa Rio, which toured Europe and the United States.  Years later a decision would be made to sing in both English as well as Portuguese, leading to the recording of Mas Que Nada, which became a huge success.  Mendes received mainstream success in 1968 after performing “The Look of Love” on the Academy Awards telecast.

More recently, Mendes’ co-produced the soundtrack albums for the 2011 movie Rio and its 2014 sequel.  He’s also touring in 2018, visiting cities including Chicago, Melbourne, San Francisco, and NYC–visit his website for dates and locations.  Mendes not only shares his gift for music, but also his gift for giving.  In 2015, Mendes joined with Starkey Hearing Foundation to provide more than 200 hearing-impaired children, adults, and senior citizens in Rio with hearing aids.

Mendes has collaborated with a number of artists over the years, including Antônio Carlos Jobim (who Mendes regards as his mentor), the Black Eyed Peas, Stevie Wonder, and Justin Timberlake.  He is married to Gracinha Leporace, who has performed with him since the early 1970s.  He also displayed his dance moves in Pharrall Williams’ 24 Hours of Happy video.

At 77 years young, Mendes is ever-evolving.  In addition to the tour, he also has an new album in the works and will be featured in a documentary about his life in 2018.  To help us honor the birthday of this music legend and to learn more about Sérgio Mendes, visit:

Photo by Bambi Corro on Unsplash