From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Nascimento was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. His mother was the maid Maria do Carmo Nascimento. When he was just a few months old, the boy was adopted by the family for whom his mother had previously worked: the couple Josino Brito Campos, a banker, mathematics teacher and electronic technician; and Lília Silva Campos, a music teacher and choir singer. At 18 months, his biological mother died and he moved with his adopted parents to the city of Três Pontas, in the state of Minas Gerais. Nascimento was also an occasional DJ on a radio station that his father had run at one point. He lived in the boroughs of Laranjeiras and Tijuca in Rio de Janeiro.
In the early stages of his career, Nascimento played in two samba groups, Evolussamba and Sambacana. In 1963, at age 19, he moved to Belo Horizonte where his friendship with Lô Borges led to the Clube da Esquina ("corner club") movement. Other members included Beto Guedes, Toninho Horta, Wagner Tiso, and Flávio Venturini, with whom he shared compositions and melodies. One of these was "Canção do Sal" which was first interpreted by Elis Regina in 1966, leading to a television appearance with Nascimento. The collective, as well as some others, released Clube da Esquina in 1972. Several singles were released along with it which became hits.
Nascimento is famous for his falsetto and tonal range, as well for highly acclaimed songs such as "Maria, Maria", "Canção da América" ("Song from America"), "Travessia", "Bailes da Vida" and "Coração de Estudante" ("Student's Heart"). The lyrics remember the funeral of the student Edson Luís, killed by police officers in 1968. The song became the hymn for the Diretas Já social-political campaign in 1984, was played at the funeral of the late President of Brazil Tancredo Neves the next year, and was also played at Ayrton Senna's funeral.
While his reputation within Brazil was firmly established with his Clube da Esquina works, Nascimento's international breakthrough came with his appearance on jazz saxophonist Wayne Shorter's 1974 album Native Dancer. This led to widespread acclaim, and collaborations with American stars such as Paul Simon, Cat Stevens, George Duke and Quincy Jones. Angelus (1994) features appearances by Pat Metheny, Ron Carter, Herbie Hancock, Jack DeJohnette, Nana Vasconcelos, Jon Anderson, James Taylor, and Peter Gabriel. Through his friendship with guitarist Warren Cuccurullo, Nascimento came to work with the pop rock band Duran Duran in 1993. Nascimento co-wrote and performed the song "Breath After Breath", featured on the band's 1993 album Duran Duran. He also performed with the band in concert when they toured in Brazil in support of that album.