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Mestre Cartola
Background information
Birth name Angenor de Oliveira
Born October 11, 1908
Origin Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Died November 30, 1980
Genres samba
Occupations singer, songwriter
Instruments vocal
Years active 1927-1980

Angenor de Oliveira, known as Cartola (Portuguese for top hat), (October 11, 1908 – November 30, 1980) was a Brazilian singer, composer and poet considered to be a figure in the development of samba.

Cartola composed, alone or with partners, more than 500 songs.



Cartola was born in Rio de Janeiro, in a borough called Catete, but spent his childhood in the neighborhood of Laranjeiras. Due to financial difficulties, the large family moved to Mangueira hill, where a small favela was beginning to appear.

In Mangueira, Cartola soon befriended Carlos Cachaça and other sambistas, getting started in the world of malandragem and samba. In 1928, they founded the Arengueiros Carnival Block, which would later transform in the traditional samba school Estação Primeira de Mangueira, one of the most loved samba-schools in Brazil. Cartola is considered responsible for the choice of colors of the school, which are said to stem from the colors of football club Fluminense, which is located in Laranjeiras.

Cartola became popular in the 1930s, with many sambas recorded at that time. In the beginning of his carrier, Creusa, his daughter, adopted when she was five years old, was extremely important in launching him as composer, as she was a singer of extremely persuasive voice, singing his sambas in radio programs of this decade. As much that later, it makes participation special in the first LP of Cartola. He got his nickname because he used a bowler hat while working as a construction worker so the cement would not dirty his hair.

Later, in the 1940s, Cartola disappeared from the scene. Little is known about that time in Cartola's life, when he departed from Mangueira after disagreements and became depressed with the death of his wife Deolinda; about that time, rumours about his death were speculated. Cartola was found, in a very popular tale, by journalist Sérgio Porto in 1956, working as a car-washer.

Porto took charge of starting to promote Cartola's return, inviting him to radio shows and divulging his work with new partners. Later, in 1963, investing in his struggle to take the favelas' samba to the city streets, Cartola opened together with Eugênio Agostine and his wife Dona Zica the famous Zicartola bar/restaurant in downtown Rio de Janeiro, which became known as the most important samba establishment of that time, providing a link between the traditional sambistas and the incipient Bossa Nova movement. Cartola invited people such as Nélson Cavaquinho, Pixinguinha, Nara Leão, Paulinho da Viola, and Zé Ketti to sing the "low-value" music, as sambistas ironically referred to their work.

Cartola's real commercial success started in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when he became quite popular and a lot of samba classics were released, such as "O Sol Nascerá", "O Mundo é Um Moinho", "Corra e Olhe o Céu", "Quem me vê Sorrindo" and "Senhora Tentação", with support from singers Elizeth Cardoso, Clara Nunes, Paulinho da Viola and especially Beth Carvalho. He released his first record only at the age of 66, in 1974, and even living in financial difficulties, composed and sang until his death at age 72.


Cartola composed melodies, harmonies and lyrics. As a lyricist, one thing that should be noticed is Cartola's very correct Portuguese. Such correctness is something to be praised in a work as big as Cartola's, especially regarding someone with no formal higher education. His poetry binds in an effective manner elegance and emotion, while keeping a relatively low level of complexity, which made his work accessible to larger layers of the population.

It's important to highlight that with regard to tempo, Cartola's music had a strong tendency towards calmer, slower sambas in contrast to the faster, brisker sambas de terreiro seen in samba schools and to other composers' music. Some say his sambas had a tendency towards samba-canção. The cavaquinhos in his records had a certain cry mood which was less percussive than usual, with the exception of his last records where Alceu Maia was the cavaquinist.

As a musician, Cartola made use of many modulations, some of which were not common in samba at that time. Some of his modulating tunes are "Quem me vê Sorrindo" and "Sim" (I -> V), "Acontece" and "Amor Proibido" (I -> bVI), "Inverno do Meu Tempo" (I -> bIII) and "A Cor da Esperança" (I -> bII). Furthermore, he made use of non-trivial figures such as tritone substitutions and extensive tritone resolutions to the IIIm7, as can be observed, e.g., in "Alvorada", "Senhora Tentação", "Inverno do Meu Tempo" and "Disfarça e Chora".



  • 1974 - Cartola
  • 1976 - Cartola
  • 1977 - Verde Que Te Quero Rosa
  • 1978 - Cartola 70 Anos
  • 1982 - Cartola - Ao Vivo
  • 1982 - Cartola - Documento Inédito



  • 1984 - "Cartola, Entre Amigos" - -Various
  • 1987 - "Cartola – 80 Anos" - by Leny Andrade
  • 1988 - "Cartola - Bate outra vez..." - -Various
  • 1995 - "Claudia Telles Interpreta Nelson Cavaquinho e Cartola" - by Claudia Telles
  • 1998 - "Sambas de Cartola" - Grupo Arranco
  • 1998 - "Só Cartola" - Por Élton Medeiros and Nelson Sargento
  • 1998 - "Cartola – 90 Anos" - Por Élton Medeiros and Márcia
  • 2002 - "Cartola" - by Ney Matogrosso
  • 2003 - "Beth Carvalho canta Cartola" - by Beth Carvalho
  • 2008 - "Viva Cartola! 100 Anos" - -Various

See also


External links


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