Caetano Veloso

A trailblazing figure in the '60s, Caetano Veloso was long recognized as Brazilian music royalty. Born in Brazil's Bahia region, Veloso drew from the then-popular bossa nova style for his first recordings, writing most of his own material. Like many late-'60s artists he soon became musically and politically radicalized. Veloso was one of the musicians, including his frequent collaborator Gilberto Gil, at the forefront of Tropicalia, a hippie-inspired movement that opened Brazilian pop to exotic influences like avant-jazz and psychedelic rock, and challenged Brazil's right-wing government. At a performance in Rio during 1968, Veloso and the band Os Mutantes incited a riot, performing psychedelic music and dancing suggestively while wearing green electric suits. The government wasn't amused; Veloso was briefly jailed over the political slant of his lyrics and left Brazil soon afterward, to study philosophy in London. By the time he returned home in 1972, cultural winds had shifted and he was welcomed back warmly. He was now a mainstream star and while he was still eclectic, his music would become more melodic and less confrontational. He and Gil remained frequent collaborators; their album Tropicalia 2 celebrated 25 years of the movement and the lyrics continued to address sociopolitical concerns, including circumstances in Haiti and the spread of AIDS. His first American tour in 1983 introduced Veloso to a new range of collaborators, notably David Byrne and New York "no wave" guitarist Arto Lindsay. His first English-language album, 2004's A Foreign Sound, included material ranging from Irving Berlin to Bob Dylan to Nirvana; that year he played Carnegie Hall with Byrne and recorded a live album. Veloso remained prolific as he entered his 70s, recording a trilogy of albums that teamed him with young players from the pop, jazz and hip-hop worlds. And in 2015 he toured the world, again with longtime friend Gilberto Gil, to celebrate both artists' 50 years in music.