Chacrinha continua balançando a pança (Chacrinha keeps shaking his gut)
E buzinando a moça e comandando a massa (And buzzing the girl and commanding the masses)
E continua dando as ordens no terreiro, (And keeps giving orders in his house)
Alô, alô Terezinha, aquele abraço (Hello, hello Teresa, that embrace)
(Gilberto Gil, Aquele Abraço – That Embrace).
José Abelardo Barbosa de Medeiros, known nationally as Chacrinha, was born in the Pernambuco town of Surubim, on 30 September 1916, to Antônio do Rêgo Medeiros and Aurélia Barbosa de Medeiros.
In 1936, he enrolled in the Recife Faculty of Medicine, later becoming a member of the musical group, Bando Acadêmico, as a drummer:
[...] this would have a large influence of my career. This group was born from the break up of Jazz Band, the pride of students [...] It was started by Capiba (Lourenço da Fonseca Barbosa), my second-cousin, and Jazz Band was the best. Every tour they did was a consecration. They even played at a ball in the Teatro Municipal do Rio (Rio de Janeiro’s Municipal Theatre), in 1933, to support the Casa do Estudante do Recife (Recife Student Hostel). Later, no longer with Capiba, who had left, they went to Buenos Aires. They were lead, on violin and 2nd sax, by Vicente Lima and Teófilo de Barros Filho. Also in Jazz Band were Fernando Lobo and this terrible guy from the country, who thought he was Einstein, while not even being a physicist – the doctor Noel Nütels.
[...] But there was a big fight between the members of Jazz Band and from there Bando Acadêmico was born [...] I joined as the number 3 drummer, the back-up to Malta Maranhão. [...] Gradually the band gained popularity. The truth is that without Capiba, one of the top popular composers in Brazil, Jazz Band had lost much of its authenticity [...]
He had his first experience on a radio show. The medical Student and member of the Academic Centre for Medicine was invited to give a talk on Rádio Clube de Pernambuco. He chose the theme Alcohol and its Consequences, receiving praise from the press, but his classmates said he was the worst announcer in the world. He took some other announcing jobs to pay for his course books, but needless to say, at the time, he had no interest in radio.
In his third year of study he was invited to be a drummer in the orchestra of the ship Bagé, going on a tour of Europe and leaving his medical career behind.
[...] one day, I was talking to Nelson Ferreira – the great Pernambuco composer, writer of “Evocação”, the frevo song that in 1957 swept the Rio Carnaval, remember? – when the phone rang. Nelson answered, it was Lloyd Brasileiro. They were looking for one or two musicians that wanted to sail on the ship “Bagé”, leaving for Europe: Leixoes (Porto), Vigo, Bordeaux, Hamburg. We were in the middle of 1939. [...] The “Bagé” never reached Germany, as predicted. The Second World War broke out while we were on the trip. In Bordeaux the ship made its final stop. A few days later we began the long trip back.
Upon his return, in 1940, instead of staying in Recife, he travelled to Rio de Janeiro, at the invitation of the commandant of the ship, where he should have then finished his time as the drummer of the Bagé’s music group. Arriving in the Brazilian capital, he decided not to return to Recife, as after all, all the major newspapers and greatest cultural opportunities in the country could be found where he was.
In Rio, he landed some small jobs, thanks to his home-town friend Medeiros Lima (who later became the director of the newspaper Última Hora), at Rádio Ministério da Educação (Ministry of Education Radio) and Rádio Vera Cruz. At that time, he tried to restart his medical studies, enrolling in the Escola de Medicina e Cirurgia (School of Medicine and Surgery), on Rua Mariz e Barros, but couldn’t continue for financial reasons. He needed to find work to survive in Rio de Janeiro.
He got a job as an announcer at Rádio Tupi and, in 1943, at Rádio Sociedade Fluminense, in Niterói.
The beginning of his success, however, was the job he landed as the announcer at Rádio Clube de Niterói, where the character Chacrinha started. The Radio was run from a small shack, or ‘chacrinha’, in the Icaraí neighbourhood. Abelardo Barbosa was asked by Souza Barros, the owner of the station, if he could produce a show with Carnival music called ‘Rei Momo da Chacrinha’ (King Momo of the Little Shack), in honour of the place where the station was located.
The first show was presented by Roberto Mendes, Moreira da Silva (‘Tal’) and the comedian Zezé Macedo. Moreira was ‘Rei Momo’ (King Momo), interviewed by Zezé Macedo about Carnival, sambas and the fashion parades and Abelardo Barbosa was the announcer. The opening theme, which simulated a Carnival ball, was composed by Guerra Peixe. The show was a huge success. After Carnival was over, because of the ban of playing Carnival music during Lent, the name of the show was changed to Cassino da Chacrinha (Chacrinha’s Casino).
A little while later, the show began to be called Cassino do Chacrinha, causing Abelardo Barbosa to become forever known as ‘Chacrinha’.
Due to the show’s success, Chacrinha began working at more prestigious radio stations like Tamoio, Guanabara and Nacional.
In 1947, he married Florinda Barbosa, from Rio de Janeiro, with whom he had three sons: Jorge Abelardo and twins José Aurélio and José Renato.
With the arrival of television to Brazil, in 1951, his career took off further. TV was the ideal vehicle for a communicator. Chacrinha created his own style of dress, which blended Carnival outfits with clown suits.
In 1956, he presented a show on TV Tupi called Rancho Alegre, bringing to it all the fillers he used on the radio. The programme soon became the most popular on television.
Later he presented ‘Discoteca do Chacrinha’ (Chacrinha’s Disco) on various TV broadcasters: TV Tupi, TV-Rio, TV Excelsior and TV Bandeirantes. The programme launched and helped make successful a number of Brazilian popular music singers, such as Elis Regina, Jorge Ben, Wanderléa, Erasmo Carlos and Wilson Simonal.
In 1968, he went to Rede Globo de Televisão, where he hosted two shows: A Hora da Buzina (The Buzzer Show), on Sundays, when his famous buzzer ‘gonged’ the singing candidates who weren’t up to standard, asking ‘Vai para o trono, ou não vai?’ (Will you make it to the throne, or not?) and, ‘Discoteca do Chacrinha’, on Wednesdays, where he created the famous ‘chacretes’ (rockettes), beautiful women who danced and spiced-up the show, with provocative choreography and outfits and exotic artistic names like Rita Cadillac, the most famous of them, Índia Amazonense, Fernanda Terremoto (Fernanda Earthquake), Suely Pingo de Ouro (Suely Goldspeck) and Sandra Veneno (Sandra Poison).
He was the creator of many phrases and expressions that became well-known and famous, being repeated across the nation: Terezinhaaaaa! Vocês querem bacalhau? (Teresa! Do you want cod? – a reference to ‘Casas da Banha’, a supermarket chain who sponsored his shows for many years); Eu vim para confundir, e não para explicar (I came to confuse and not to explain); Quem não comunica se trumbica (Whoever doesn’t communicate is screwed – often quoted by communications students); Em televisão nada se cria, tudo se copia (In television, nothing creates, everything copies).
Chacrinha always picked the new movements in Brazilian music, like the Jovem Guarda (Young Guard), in the 1960s; Tropicalismo, which rocked Brazilian popular music and culture between 1967 and 1968, lead by Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil, and rock in the 1980s.
In the 1970s, Chacrinha went to TV Bandeirantes, returning, in 1982, to Rede Globo, where he hosted his Casino until the end of his life.
The ‘Velho Guerreiro’ (Old Warrior), as he began to be called, was honoured by the Império Serrano Samba School, in 1987 and, in the same year, received from UniverCidade, in Rio de Janeiro, an honorary doctorate.
Abelardo Barbosa, ‘Chacrinha’, the leader in Brazilian television audiences for three decades, died on 30 July 1988.
[...]Chacrinha’s humour is also the humour of the people. Just like the funny guys in the crowd, those guys who come up with genial nicknames, sayings and jokes which nobody knows who invented them. [...]. (Péricles do Amaral, Tudo na mais perfeita ordem (All in Perfect Order), 1969).
Recife, 28 June 2010.
Translated by Peter Leamy, January 2011.
Updated on september 24, 2018.
AMARAL, Péricles do. Tudo na mais perfeita confusão. In: BARBOSA, Abelardo. Chacrinha é o desafio: memória. 2. ed. Rio de Janeiro: Editora do Autor, 1969. p. 183-192.
BARBOSA, Abelardo. Chacrinha é o desafio: memória. 2. ed. Rio de Janeiro: Editora do Autor, 1969.
CHACRINHA [Foto neste texto]. Disponível em: <http://sustentahabilidade.com/chacrinha-100-anos-legado-da-espontanea-alegria-na-tv-brasileira/>. Acesso em: 24 set. 2018.
COELHO, Frederico Oliveira. Quem quer bacalhau? História: Revista da Biblioteca Nacional, Rio de Janeiro, ano 3, n. 32, p. 32-35, maio 2008.
how to quote this text
Source: GASPAR, Lúcia. Chacrinha (Abelardo Barbosa). Pesquisa Escolar On-Line, Joaquim Nabuco Foundation, Recife. Available at: <http://basilio.fundaj.gov.br/pesquisaescolar/>. Accessed: day month year. Exemple: 6 Aug. 2009.