Afro-Brazilian singer and composer Vale popularised northeastern musical genres throughout Brazil. The Google Doodle of today honours Joo do Vale on his 88th birthday. He is regarded as a significant figure in Brazil’s music industry.
In 1934, Vale was born in Pedreiras, Maranho. At a young age, he experienced prejudice when he was expelled from school to make space for a kid of a higher social class. This experience had a profound effect on how he perceived the world and would later play a key role in his work. In order to maintain his family, he was forced to start selling oranges at fairs.
Vale began writing music for a Brazilian band at the age of 13. They performed performances titled Bumba-Meu-Boi that used drama, dance, and lyrics to depict the Maranho culture. His work with the group helped spark his passion for writing songs, but it didn’t bring in enough money to improve his family’s financial situation.
Vale left his home to flee the injustice he experienced in Pedreiras. He moved to Rio de Janeiro and started working construction, bricklaying, and other manual labour tasks. He travelled to other large cities while working to perform his music and write poetry. Vale wrote songs on poverty and folk culture under the influence of personal experience and northeastern musical genres like baio.
Early in the 1950s, Vale had the chance to perform his lively dance rhythms at the Radio Nacional station, which had an impact on Brazilian music tastes. Joo was unable to write, therefore in order to present his compositions, he had to memorise what he had written. The hosts and producers there were impressed by his amazing baios, and his musical career quickly took off! He started working with musicians that were eager to support him as he developed his songwriting and compositional abilities.
By 1964, Vale was performing for working-class audiences in southern Brazil in showrooms that emphasised northeastern rhythms. He produced two solo albums, several chart-topping singles, and tunes that helped make famous a number of notable figures in the business. Up until his passing in 1996, he kept producing and disseminating music that was steeped in his culture.
He has a theatre named after him in the Old Town of So Lus, and Pedreiras has a memorial in his honour.
Happy 88th birthday, João do Vale!