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Date Born.:

Singer, Songwriter


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Last update: 11/06/2018

By: Lúcia Gaspar - Librarian of the Fundação Joaquim Nabuco

José Domingos de Moraes, known as Dominguinhos, was born in Garanhuns, Pernambuco, on 12 February 1941, to the famous bagpipe player and tuner, master Chicão.

At the age of six, still with the nickname Neném do Acordeon (Accordion Baby), he played tambourine with his brothers Moraes (accordion) and Valdomiro (malê, a type of drum) in the trio Os Três Pingüins (The Three Penguins).

The group performed in markets and hotel fronts in Garanhuns. In one of these performances, in 1948, they were heard by Luiz Gonzaga, the well-known King of Baião, who was impressed by Dominguinhos and promised to give him an accordion as a gift if some day he decided to go to Rio de Janeiro.

In 1954, his family moved to Rio, settling in Nilópolis. Dominguinhos sought out the King of Baião to hold him to his promise, and was given a new accordion.

With possession of the new instrument he formed, with Miudinho and Borborema, the Trio Nordestino (North-eastern Trio), performing at circuses and town shindigs in the countryside of Rio de Janeiro.

In 1956, he was already accompanying Luiz Gonzaga in shows and recordings. It was Velho Lua, his musical mentor, who introduced him to the artistic world of Rio de Janeiro at the time.

In 1957, they went to the city of Vitória, in Espírito Santo, where he learnt to play other musical genres like bolero and samba, to perform at dancehalls and nightclubs.

It was Luiz Gonzaga who changed his artistic name from Neném do Acordeon to Dominguinhos, because he said that his childhood nickname would never take him anywhere.

In 1965, Pedro Sertanejo, one of the forró pioneers in southern Brazil (the father of Oswaldinho do Acordeon), invited him to record an LP aimed at the market of migrant North-easterners on his small record label, Cantagalo.

Two years later, he was participating in one of Luiz Gonzaga’s music tours as accordionist and driver, when he met the singer Lucinete Ferreira, known as Anastácia, who became his wife and partner in various songs such as Eu só quero um xodó (I Just Want a Sweetheart) and Tenho Sede (I’m Thirsty), later hits for Gilberto Gil, which made him known nationally, as well as other successes like De amor eu morrerei (I Will Die from Love), Lamento de saudade (Lament and Longing), Saudade matadeira (Deadly Longing) and Forró em Petrolina.

He was part of many national music festivals and had various albums recorded. By 1978, he’d already recorded seven LPs.

His songs have been interpreted by big names like Maria Bethânia, Gal Costa, Caetano Velloso, Elba Ramalho and Raimundo Fagner, to name a few.

He wrote and performed music with some of the greats of Brazilian popular music, such as Chico Buarque (Tantas palavras – So Many Words, Xote da navegação – “Navigation” xote), Nando Cordel (De volta pro aconchego – Back to Comfort, Gostoso demais – Too Good, Faz de mim – Do It to Me, Isso aquí tá bom demais – This Is Too Good), Gilberto Gil (Abri a porta – I Opened the Door and Lamento sertanejo – Country Lament), Manduka (Quem me levará sou eu – Who Will Take Me Is Me), and Fausto Nilo (Pedras que cantam – Stones That Sing).

He also wrote soundtracks and themes for films like O Cangaceiro (Aníbal Massaini Neto) and As Aventuras de um Paraíba (Marco Altberg).

Included in his lengthy discography are compositions and recordings of choro, forró, xaxado, baião, coco, quadrilha, and various other traditional musical rhythms of Northeast Brazil.

The famous Forró do Dominguinhos, as well as being spread throughout the country by the shows he performed at universities, became a musical genre itself.


Recife, 12 June 2006.
Updated on 24 August 2009.
Translated by Peter Leamy, January 2011.

sources consulted

DOMINGUINHOS. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: 8 jun. 2006.

CÂMARA, Renato Phaelante da. MPB, compositores pernambucanos: coletânea bio-músico-fonográfica, 1920-1995. Recife: Fundaj, Ed. Massangana, 1997.

SOUZA, Tárik de. Dominguinhos. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: 8 jun. 2006.

how to quote this text

Source: GASPAR, Lúcia. Dominguinhos. Pesquisa Escolar On-Line, Joaquim Nabuco Foundation, Recife. Available at:  <>. Accessed: day month year. Exemple: 6 Aug. 2009.