Top Ten Brazilian Music Artists

From Jorge Ben to Antonio Carlos Jobim, Brazilian music has a rich history of singers, songwriters and performers who brought a bit of soul and rhythm to the world. This list of top Brazilian music artists includes some of the most talented entertainers emerging in the Latin music community.

Although this list is short for a country whose musical universe is infinite, each one of the following artists deserves to be part of it. Let's take a closer look at some of the most iconic stars from Brazil.

10
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Jorge Ben Jor

Monte Carlo Rose Ball - Inside
Pascal Le Segretain / Staff/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

If there is a word that defines Jorge Ben Jor's contribution to Brazilian music, that word is innovation. This musician represents a bridge between traditional rhythms and foreign sounds.

The father of the so-called Samba-Rock, a musical style that combines Samba with Rock and Funk, has had a tremendous impact on modern Brazilian music. He has also written some of the most famous Brazilian songs including "Chove, Chuva," "Filho Maravilha" and "Mas Que Nada."

Ben Jor's music has been reproduced and interpreted by numerous international and local artists. Interestingly, one of  Ben Jor's most successful tracks, "Taj Mahal," was plagiarized by Rod Stewart in his 1979 single "Da Ya Think I"m Sexy," and the two settled the matter out of court.

09
of 10

Marisa Monte

Photo Courtesy Stephen Lovekin / Getty Images
Marisa Monte. Photo Courtesy Stephen Lovekin / Getty Images

For the past two decades, Marisa Monte has been one of the most popular Brazilian female singers. Her beautiful voice and pleasant musical style have shaped the new sounds coming from the land of Samba and soccer.

Her collaboration work with Arnaldo Antunes and Carlinhos Brown translated into "Tribalistas," a hit album that in Brazil alone sold nearly one million copies. Marisa's music is deeply influenced by Bossa Nova, Samba and Popular Brazilian Music (MPB).

As of 2010, her fame has only increased on the international stage with over 10 million albums sold worldwide. Rolling Stone Brazil considers her the second greatest Latin singer of all time, coming just behind Elis Regina's fame and prowess.

Photo Courtesy Sony BMG
Roberto Carlos. Photo Courtesy Sony BMG

There is a reason why Roberto Carlos is known as the king of Brazilian music: he was one of the best-selling Brazilian artists of all time with over 120 million albums sold worldwide.

He reached popularity during the 1970s and 1980s when his musical romantic style gained fans throughout Latin America and beyond. Roberto Carlos defined a new generation of artists and became a leading voice in the making of Latin Pop music. He is a legendary star and one of the top Brazilian music artists of all time.

Not to be confused with a soccer star of the same name, Carlos made his reputation with the help of best friend and cohort Erasmo Carlos who helped him write the bulk majority of Roberto Carlos' records. More »

07
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Gilberto Gil

Photo Courtesy Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images
Gilberto Gil. Photo Courtesy Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images

A remarkable artist in Brazilian music, Gilberto Gil has produced an extensive repertoire that is both innovative and meaningful, adding a flair and purpose to the genre.

Along with Caetano Veloso, he is one of the fathers of the Tropicalia movement (Tropicalismo) that flourished during the late 1960s in Brazil.

He is the winner of several Grammy awards and different honors such as the 1999 UNESCO Artist for Peace Award. Some of his most famous songs include "Andar com Fé," "Aquele Abraço," and "Quilombo, O El Dorado Negro."

06
of 10

Elis Regina

Photo Courtesy Universal Brazil
Elis Regina. Photo Courtesy Universal Brazil

Regarded by many as the best voice in Brazilian music, Elis Regina played a big role in the most important musical expressions of the 1960s and 1970s, and her sweet, smooth voice touched Bossa Nova, Brazilian Popular Music (MPB) and the Tropicalia wave.

Her 1974 album with Antonio Carlos Jobim, "Tom & Elis," is considered the best Bossa Nova album in history, and the single "Aguas de Marco" from that album is still regarded as one of the most representative songs in Brazilian music. The myth around Elis Regina became even bigger after her shocking death in 1982.

Photo Courtesy Hulton Archive / Getty Images
Joao Gilberto. Photo Courtesy Hulton Archive / Getty Images

One of the greatest Brazilian guitar players of all time, Joao Gilberto is commonly referred to as “The Father of Bossa Nova.” Thanks to his innovative guitar playing style, Joao Gilberto was able to build Bossa Nova from its original Samba roots.

His “Chega de Saudade” version, a song originally written by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes, is still regarded as one of the most important points of reference in Brazilian music. 

Interestingly, Joao Gilberto is also credited with inventing and spreading the Bossa Nova style of music in the 1950s. More »

04
of 10

Caetano Veloso

Photo Courtesy Quim Llenas / Getty Images
Caetano Veloso. Photo Courtesy Quim Llenas / Getty Images

One of the sweetest voices in Brazilian music is that of Caetano Veloso. Besides his vocal talent, this prolific singer, songwriter, guitarist and poet has one of the largest repertoires a Brazilian artist has ever produced.

Caetano Veloso is one of the founders of the Tropicalia movement and his music has had a profound impact on the making of modern Brazilian music. Some of his hits include "Sampa," "Queixa" and "Leaozinho."

03
of 10

Chico Buarque de Hollanda

Photo Courtesy Indie Europe/Zoom
Chico Buarque. Photo Courtesy Indie Europe/Zoom

A leading voice of the Brazilian Popular Music (MPB) movement, Chico Buarque has captivated audiences with his music since the 1960s, but besides his good looks and unique voice, Chico Buarque has written some of the best lyrics in Brazilian music.

Several of his most important songs were charged with political messages that spoke up against the Brazilian dictatorship of the 1960s and 1970s.

Among the most notable of his hits are "Roda Viva," "Vai Passar," "Apesar de Você," and "O que Será," each of which is still occasionally featured on Latin radio today.

02
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Vinicius de Moraes

Photo Courtesy Wrasse
Vinicius de Moraes. Photo Courtesy Wrasse

Vinicius de Moraes is one of the most prolific Brazilian songwriters of all time.

His work is closely related to his long collaboration with Antonio Carlos Jobim, with whom he wrote the music for "Black Orpheus" which received an Academy Award for best Foreign Language Film in 1959. For that soundtrack, Vinicius and Jobim produced "A Felicidade," one of the best Brazilian songs of all time.

01
of 10

Antonio Carlos Jobim

Photo Courtesy Hip-O Records
Antonio Carlos Jobim. Photo Courtesy Hip-O Records

To a large extent, the name of Antonio Carlos Jobim has become a synonym of Brazilian music. This amazing singer, musician and songwriter wrote most of the melodies that have shaped modern Brazilian music.

Because of everything he gave to Brazilian music, he is usually referred to as "The Master" — an apt title considering he's able to play piano, guitar and flute.

Tom Jobim is the author behind hits such as "Garota de Ipanema" ("Girl from Ipanema"), "Corcovado" ("Quite Nights") and "Chega de Saudade."