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Adoniran Barbosa: the patron of São Paulo samba

Birth Date:
06/08/1910


Death Date:
23/11/1982


Ocupation:

Singer, Composer, Comedian, Actor

Adoniran Barbosa: the patron of São Paulo samba

Article available in: PT-BR ESP

Last update: 20/05/2022

By: Cláudia Verardi - Librarian at Fundação Joaquim Nabuco - PhD in Librarianship and Documentation

Born in the city of Valinhos on August 6, 1910, in the interior of São Paulo, the singer and songwriter João Rubinato, son of Italian immigrants, adopted his stage name “Adoriran,” which he borrowed from a friend, and the surname “Barbosa” after the sambista Luiz Barbosa, because he thought that João Rubinato was not a suitable name for a samba writer.

Rubinato dropped out of school at an early age to work, as he needed to financially help out his large family of seven brothers, and on the other hand, he also did not like to study. One of his first jobs was as a lunch box delivery man, around the age of fourteen, having also worked as a shoeshine boy, salesman, mechanical adjuster, weaver, wall painter, locksmith, waiter and lunch box delivery man.

According to Adoniran (2017), the almost illiterate young man from the interior of the state came to the capital in the early 1930s when he started to attend the Cruzeiro do Sul radio station in São Paulo to participate in unknown talent programs. An admirer of sambas by Sinhô, Noel Rosa and Luís Barbosa, he stood out for his interpretations of samba de breque and for having introduced the straw hat as a rhythmic accompaniment in radio programs and in recordings.

Owner of a hoarse, nasal voice, Adoniran went through several frustrations at the beginning of his career, but he did not give up the dream of living from his music, even after being rejected several times when trying to enter the stage and radio, both for the lack of recognition of his talent and the lack of adequate guidance or sponsors.

Adoniran chose other paths to fulfill his desire to live from his music, believing that his ability was “behind the scenes” composing songs, however, he had no financial return, as the singers were the ones who profited. In this context, the composer decides to act as an interpreter, and, seeking his space as a singer, he took part in several unknown talent programs. In 1933, he won first place in Jorge Amaral’s unknown talent contest with the song Filosofia by Noel Rosa. Little by little he managed to start a career on radio as a radio actor, being fairly successful, but not for a long time. With his simple way of speaking and small grammatical errors, added to the experiences along this path, he was building a sociocultural linguistic variation.

According to Martins (2017?), Adoniran’s characteristic in his compositions was a wrong way of speaking, which pleased the general public, breaking linguistic paradigms and prejudices.

With a very informal vocabulary, Adoniran marked a regional linguistic variation with the use of popular language and slang, thus breaking the taboos linked to linguistic prejudice.

In the samba As Mariposa one can observe the linguistic features with alternation of words (muié/mulher) (lâmpida/lâmpada), as well as the lack of agreement of the words, since the composer’s intention was irony and the lack of concern with the cultured language of Portuguese and that was precisely what brought him closer to his audience.

The moths

The moth as the cold comes
They go around the lamp to warm up 

They spin, spin, spin and then sit 

On top of the lamp plate to rest

I am the lamp 

And the gals is the moth 

That keeps spinning round me 

Every night just to kiss me

Another example of Adoniran’s lack of concern and linguistic genius using placements very close to the people around him, portraying his way of living and thinking, is reflected in Samba do Arnesto: 

 

Arnesto invited us to a samba, he lives in Brás

We goed, but did not found no one

We come back as mad as shell

Next time, we don’t go no more

We are no donkey!

Arnesto invited us to a samba, he lives in Brás

We goed, but did not found no one

We come back as mad as shell

Next time, we don’t go no more

The other day we ran into Arnesto

Who apologized, but we no accept 

That’s not right, Arnesto, we no care

But you should have putted a message on the door

Arnesto invited us to a samba, he lives in Brás

We goed, but did not found no one

We come back as mad as shell

Next time, we don’t go no more


The other day we ran into Arnesto

Who apologized, but we no accept 

That’s not right, Arnesto, we no care

But you should’ve putted a message on the door
A note like this: “Hey, gang, I couldn’t wait

Oh, I doubt it is okay, it don’t matter

Signed with a cross ‘cos I can’t write”

Arnesto.

His first big hit was the classic samba Trem das onze. With this song he reached the long-awaited peak of his musical career. It was recorded in 1951 by the composer and, although not successful at the time, later on  it was re-recorded by Demônios da Garoa and the song then became very successful.

The eleven o’clock train

I can’t stay
one more minute with you 

I’m sorry, baby 

But it can’t be 

I live in Jaçanã 

If I miss this train 

That leaves now at eleven o’clock 

Only tomorrow morning

 

I can’t stay 

One more minute with you

I’m sorry, baby

But it can’t be 

I live in Jaçanã

If I miss this train

That leaves now at eleven o’clock

Only tomorrow morning

And besides that, woman

There’s something else 

My mother doesn’t sleep 

Until I arrive

I’m an only child 

I have my house to take care

I can’t stay

No I can’t stay with you 

for one more minute 

I’m sorry but it can’t be 

I live in Jaçanã

If I miss this train 

That leaves now at eleven o’clock 

Only tomorrow...

The singer’s daughter, Maria Helena Rubinato, Adoniran’s only heir, was sought out in 1989 by Juvenal Fernandes, who was a great friend of Adoniran, to sign a contract allowing the release of unreleased songs left by the samba composer. There were several sheets scribbled with his father’s lyrics, with about 100 songs. These songs, which displayed in their verses the humor and vocabulary very characteristic of his personality, were edited in 1990, but not recorded. After Juvenal’s death they were discovered by film producer Cassio Pardini, from Latina Estudio, when he was collecting data to make a documentary about the samba composer. Cassio, along with music producer Lucas Mayer, from the DaFne Music label, had the idea of bringing together contemporary artists of different styles to record some of these songs in their honor.

In 2016 (34 years after the composer’s death), the project entitled Adoniran – Se Assoprar Posso Acender de Novo released a disc and a DVD, featuring 14 previously unreleased tracks by the composer. The grandiose production worked with several interpreters who imprinted their personal stamp on the songs, among them: Ney Matogrosso (singing Passou, by Adoniran and Pepe Ávila); Criolo (singing Até Amanhã, by Adoniran and Wilma Camargo); Liniker (singing O Barzinho by Adoniran in partnership with Renato Luiz); Fernanda Takai with Leo Cavalcanti (singing O Rostinho de Maria by Adoniran and Pepe Avila) and Simoninha (singing Foi na Mosca).

In O Sol e a Lua, singer Diogo Poças opens the track with a muffled sonority,  to remember the old little battery-operated radios, and shoots verses that are sheer Adoniran: “That’s how me and the black man/ We fought non-stop/In the slums shack/Nothing was left in its place” (MENEZES, 2016)

According to Menezes (2016), the exaltation of bohemian life also appears in several songs: In “Só Vivo de Noite,” rocker Kiko Zambianchi and his daughter Ana Julia sing the dawn in an enthusiastic duet: “In the day I am nothing/At night I am someone/Who plays the guitar.”

The bohemian, Adoniran, remained financially unstable throughout his life, he was born and died poor, but his wealth left as an inheritance consists of his vast and irreverent repertoire of compositions, being “eternalized” mainly for the hits Saudosa Maloca, O Samba do Arnesto and Trem das Onze.


 

Nostalgic Shack

 

Since you don’t remember, mister

Excuse me so i can tell you

Here where now lies

This tall building

There was an old house

A two-storeys little palace

 

It was here, mister

Where myself, Mato Grosso and Joca

Built our shack

But, one day

It pains just to remember

Some men came with tools

The owner told them to take it down

 

We grabbed all our things

And went to the middle of the street

To appreciate the demolition

Such a sadness we felt

Every plank that fell

Hurt in the heart

 

Mato Grosso wanted to yell

But I promptly said:

The men are right

We will find another place

We only accepted it when Joca said:

“God gives the cold according to the blanket”

 

Today we pick straws 

from the garden’s grass

And to forget it we sing like this:

Nostalgic shack, dear shack

Where we spent happy days in our lives

Nostalgic shack, dear shack

Where we spent happy days in our lives

 

Recife, June 16, 2017.

sources consulted

ADONIRAN Barbosa. Disponível em: <http://acervo.estadao.com.br/noticias/personalidades,adoniran-barbosa,897,0.htm>. Acesso em: 15 jun. 2017.

ADONIRAN Barbosa. In: ENCICLOPÉDIA Itaú Cultural de Arte e Cultura Brasileiras. São Paulo: Itaú Cultural, 2017. Disponível em: < http://enciclopedia.itaucultural.org.br/pessoa12474/adoniran-barbosa>. Acesso em: 09 jun. 2017.

ADONIRAN Barbosa [Foto neste texto]. Disponível em: < http://www.radiopositiva.net/site/texto-do-dia/obra-de-adoniran-barbosa-ganha-status-de-patrimonio-de-sao-paulo/>. Acesso em: 15 jun. 2017.

HISTÓRIA do sambista Adoniran Barbosa e Peteleco. 2017. Disponível em: <http://www.revista4patas.com.br/single-post/2017/02/16/Hist%C3%B3ria-do-sambista-Adoniran-Barbosa-e-Peteleco>. Acesso em: 15 jun. 2017.

LUNGARETTI, Celso. Adoniran Barbosa: "O trem nunca foi das onze". Disponível em: <.Acesso">http://vermelho.org.br/noticia/134499-1>.Acesso em 08 jun. 2017.

MENEZES, Thales de. 100 anos de samba. 2016. Disponível em: <http://temas.folha.uol.com.br/100-anos-de-samba/ontem-e-hoje/guardadas-por-amigo-ineditas-de-adoniran-barbosa-sao-lancadas.shtml>. Acesso em 9 jun. 2017.

how to quote this text

VERARDI, Cláudia Albuquerque. Adoniran Barbosa: the patron of São Paulo samba. In: Pesquisa Escolar. Recife: Fundação Joaquim Nabuco, 2017. Available from: https://pesquisaescolar.fundaj.gov.br/pt-br/artigo/adoniran-barbosa-o-patrono-do-samba-paulista/. Accessed on: dia mês ano. (Ex.: 6 ago. 2020.)