Understanding Elis Regina

by Brazil Club - Let The Music Take You There on 03/01/2013 - 06:02 pm

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As our world grows ever smaller, the prominence of cultural icons such as Elis Regina begins to shrink as well, slowly replaced by the quickening pace of the latest trend, the 24 hour news cycle, and the next Twitter subject for his or her “140 characters of fame.”

This is the time of year where, as Spring arrives and clocks likewise “spring ahead”, we stop to look back at the woman who many consider to be Brazil’s greatest singer. So, for taking the time and effort to learn about Elis Regina, let me say ‘thanks’!

Times have changed and Brazil’s music scene has, too: For all of her dynamic presence, Ivete Sangalo (who is Brazil’s reigning Queen of Song) has precious little in common with Regina. Indeed, barely a decade had passed when the author of Regina’s biography publicly proclaimed that Elis Regina had been all but forgotten in her country. 

Elis was dynamic in her music and polarizing in her personal life. And while author Regina Echeverria’s biography is controversial; its critics have never gained much traction – in Brazil or beyond. The same can be said of Ruy Castro’s excellent history of ‘Bossa Nova’. Considering the magnitude of both topics, it is confounding that more published works have not been researched and written.

Regardless, Elis Regina never fails to elicit passionate response from its readers and this year, I’m pleased to present the on-line edition of her life story, in English. The full-length book titled ‘Furacão Elis’ (Hurricane Elis) has a new home. We’ve augmented the presentation with a comments page, online store and more, and I hope that you’ll enjoy the read.

March 17th marks another ‘birthday’ for Elis Regina, but even those who only casually observed this singer’s meteoric career knew that fate would hold to a much shorter calendar.  Elis Regina died at age 36 of a drug overdose on January 19th, 1982, putting a coda on an all too brief roller coaster of a life that was filled with riotous emotion and more than enough music to sustain us after she had gone.


Click here to read Elis Regina's biography, ‘Furacão Elis’


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Nicknamed “The Fury,” Elis Regina’s talent was beyond measure and had no equal. Indeed, in the ensuing decades, the void created by her passing has gone largely unfilled in Brazilian song. Today, Gal Costa still reigns as the Grand Dame while singer such as Leila Pinhireo and Zizi Possi battle for position as her heirs apparent while staving off a plethora of challenges from succeeding generations. But who could possibly claim Elis Regina’s position today? Silence stands in answer, ringing as loudly as those cheering masses that day in Brazil, long ago…

Much like musical pioneers who debuted in dominant fashion, Regina’s music demands that you involve yourself. And much like tragic figures such as Janis Joplin, Regina’s tempestuous life sought its creative release on stage and in the studio. Her story is an amazing one and for the first time, it’s here for you to read at your leisure while listening to our special webcast “Celebrating Elis Regina.”

Elis Regina’s definitive biography, “Furacão Elis,” by Regina Echeverria was first published in Brazil in 1985. The book was an immediate sensation, and remained a best seller for quite some time. In 1991, Robert St. Louis, a dedicated fan, began a four-year project to translate the book to English. Although not a professional translator, St. Louis has nevertheless provided the world with a wonderful gift- he credits nearly a dozen and a half people who supplied guidance for the accuracy of his work. Graciously, on the 20th year marking Elis Regina’s passing, Robert St. Louis has given us permission to present this book, in its entirety for you to enjoy and share with your friends.

Fittingly, that’s how an original copy of this book came to me. I was a houseguest with producer David Hadjes’ family while visiting Rio in 1989, and after we had finished a long lunch, the conversation turned to Elis. “Come with me,” he said, and we went to his study, where he handed me the book that you can read today, courtesy of Brazil Club. 

To this day, I carry two special memories of that Spring afternoon; One of looking out the study’s 3rd story window from his Lagoa condo to view Corocvado, and the Christ statue playing with the clouds. The other memory was of a new friendship that came so easily half a world away.

Back then, it took two books for me to read just one, but happily, today, no dictionary is needed to enjoy one of Brazil’s most enthralling musical stories: The life of Elis Regina.

And please… feel free to tweet this to your friends. No worries - Elis’s story isn’t going anywhere. It’ll be right here. 


Scott Adams

Brazil Club


P.S. Our thanks to Google, who has recognized the importance of this project and have helped us to achieve better rankings for anyone searching Elis Regina’s name. We appreciate their support!

Not familiar with Elis Regina? Here's a good place to start. 

Aguas de Março (Waters of March)

Aquarela do Brasil (Brazilian Watercolor)

Atras da Porta (Close The Door)

Chovendo Na Roseira (Double Rainbow)