Lúcio Alves was a great interpreter of Brazilian music. Tom Jobim said he is "a formidable singer, he deserved the highest popular acclamation, but paid the price of being an artist ahead of his time." João Gilberto was a declared fan of his singing interpretation and his vocal and harmonic arrangements and Alves made some arrangements for Gilberto's Garotos da Lua and Gilberto lived with him at Raul Pompéia street in Rio.
When Chega de Saudade was released, the first person to whom Gilberto showed the album was Alves. Alves always had music as part of his family life: his father was the conductor of his city's band and a tuba player, his mother and aunt played the piano, his sister violin, and his brothers violão and flute. As early as six years old, Alves began to take violão (acoustic guitar) classes. At nine, already living with his family in Rio, he appeared at Barbosa Júnior's Bombonzinho radio show singing "Juramento Falso" (Pedro Caetano), a song turned extremely popular by Orlando Silva. When Barbosa Júnior transferred himself to Rádio Mayrink Veiga and created the show Picolino, Alves presented himself there again. There he became acquainted with Carmen Miranda, Garoto, Os Quatro Diabos, O Bando da Lua, Carlos Galhardo, Chico Alves, and Ciro Monteiro, among others. He also knew Noel Rosa at this time, was a neighbor of Marília Batista, whom was frequently visited by Rosa. He also appeared, in 1937, on Rádio Nacional's soap opera Aladim e a Lâmpada Maravilhosa, playing Aladin, and on the show Ora Bolas! In fact, as a prodigy child, he appeared on all children's shows. In 1941, having broken a leg in a soccer play ("pelada"), he had to rest at home. As the only activity he could engage in was to sing, he formed the group Namorados da Lua, in which he was the crooner, violonista, and arranger. Ary Barroso had a novice show at Rádio Tupi at that time, which launched several unknown beginners to stardom (and turned to ashes the untalented), and Alves was one of these lucky ones. The Namorados da Lua scored first place at Ary Barroso's show on January 12, 1941. In that year, Alves also won the Carnaval contest at the Teatro República, Rio, singing "Nós, os Carecas" (Arlindo Marques/Roberto Roberti). They were replacing the Anjos do Inferno, who had recorded it but were touring. They reached first place tied to Ciro Monteiro, who desisted saying that the Namorados da Lua deserved the award. On that occasion, Monteiro urged Alves to leave the group and pursue a solo career. The Namorados da Lua recorded their first 78 rpm album on October 15, 1942, with "Vestidinho de Iaiá" and "Té Logo, Sinhá" (both by Assis Valente), through Victor. The group would last for six years and several different formations, working at distinguished spots such as Cassino Atlântico and Cassino Copacabana, besides Rádio Nacional. Alves had to forge his birth certificate to play at the Cassino Atlântico in 1941, as he was only 14. He started to compose in 1943, writing with Haroldo Barbosa the popular samba "De Conversa em Conversa" (recorded at December 12, 1946, by Isaura Garcia, through Victor, with the Namorados da Lua, and several decades later, by João Gilberto). Participating actively on radio shows, he learned with the masters: arranging with Radamés Gnatalli, violão with Garoto, and writing with Haroldo Barbosa. In February 1945, the Namorados da Lua recorded another 78 rpm (Continental) with "Agora Sim" (Francisco Santos/João Diniz) and "Caráter de Mulher" (Francisco Santos/João Diniz/ Rubens Pacheco). In July of that year, he recorded for Continental "Morena Faceira" (Janet DeAlmeida) and "Eu Quero um Samba" (Haroldo Barbosa/DeAlmeida), also recorded several years later by Gilberto. That recording was important to project Alves as a popularly acclaimed singer. In September of the same year, they recorded for Continental "Olha o Gato! " (Lauro Maia) and "Ponto de Interrogação" (Marino Pinto/Ciro de Souza). In October, another 78 rpm (Continental) had "Vai Saudade" (Marino Pinto/Valdemar Gomes) and "Bate Palma Pra Mineira" (Assis Valente). In April 1946, they recorded for Continental "Dança do Ban-Zan-Zan" (DeAlmeida/Francisco Storino) and "Feitiço da Vila," a classic by Noel Rosa and Vadico. In May, "Não Bobeie, Calamazu" (Caco Velho/Nilo Silva) and "Conceição" (Otaciliano Silveira/Chiquinho Storino) (Continental). In August, "Aprenda a Sambar" (Nanai) and "Se Essa Mulher Fosse Minha" (Haroldo Torres/Geraldo Gomes) (Continental). In December, "Desgosto" (Tuffi Lauar/Francisco Modesto/Fernando Pimentel) and "Rainha Sem Rei" (Romeu Gentil/Ribeiro de Lima) (Continental). Also in that month, "Lá Vem Aquela Mulher" (Estanislau Silva/Raul Marques/Carlos Souza) and "Casado Não Pode" (Alcebíades Nogueira/Rutinaldo Silva) (Continental). In February 1947, they recorded "Dona Letícia" (Aníbal Monteiro/Chiquinho Storino) and "Negativa" (Lúcio Alves) (Continental). In December, "Deixa eu Bater Meu Tamborim" (Marian Batista/Erasmo Silva) and "Leonor" (Dunga/Roberto Riberti). The last recording of the group was in January 1948: "Guerra ao pardal" (Alberto Ribeiro/Peter Pan) and "Cigana" (Nelson Gonçalves). The group dissolved and Alves went after his personal career as a solo artist, beginning with "Sabe lá o Que é Isso?" (Cristovão Alencar/A. Almeida) with Orlando Silva (Continental). He would record 44 other solo albums and appear on a number of others. In 1948, he recorded for Continental "Solidão" (version by Aluísio de Oliveira of Osvaldo Farres' bolero "Tres Palabras"). The single was included in Walt Disney's movie Make Mine Music. In that same year, he recorded "Aquelas Palavras" and "Seja Feliz...Adeus" (both by Luís Bittencourt/Benny Woldorff), and toured Cuba, Mexico, and the U.S. for a whole year with the Anjos do Inferno group, replacing two members (as he was a crooner and a violonista) who had abandoned the group, Leo Villar and Paciência. On that tour, Carmen Miranda invited him to work with her and he won a recording studio contest, the prize being a season with Tex Benecke's orchestra. He declined both invitations as he wanted badly to go back to Brazil. In the early '50s, he recorded for Continental, with great success, "Terminemos" (Paulo Soledade/Fernando Lobo), "Sábado em Copacabana" (Carlos Guinle/Dorival Caymmi), "Manias" (Flávio and Celso Cavalcanti), "Xodó" (Jair Amorim/José Maria de Abreu), "Valsa de uma Cidade" (Ismael Neto/Antônia), "Se o Tempo Entendesse" (Marino Pinto/Mário Rossi), and "Na Paz do Senhor" (José Maria de Abreu/Luís Peixoto). In 1952, he wrote "Baião de Copacabana" (with Haroldo Barbosa). In 1954, he began a duo with the great singer Dick Farney, recording for Continental a 78 rpm with the samba "Tereza da Praia" (Tom Jobim/Billy Blanco) and his toada "Casinha Pequena." The duo had good acceptance until 1955, when Alves decided to compose for other singers. At the end of the '50s, he recorded the LP Cantando Depois do Sol for Philips. It had, among other songs, "Emília" (Wilson Batista/Haroldo Lobo) and "Minha Palhoça" (J. Cascata). The bossa nova brought him another wave of popularity, with nightclub, theater, radio, and TV shows, and new recordings. In 1960, he recorded Lúcio Alves Interpreta Dolores Durán (Odeon), a tribute to the singer/composer who died in 1959. There he interpreted her songs such as "A Noite do meu Bem" and "Fim de Caso." In 1961, he recorded the LP A Bossa é Nossa (Philips), with "Dindi" (Tom Jobim/Aluísio de Oliveira), "Nova Ilusão" (Luís Bittencourt/José Meneses), and "O Samba da Minha Terra" (Dorival Caymmi), among others. In 1963, he recorded for the combative label Elenco (owned by Aluísio de Oliveira) the LP Balançamba, another bossa album, with "Rio," "Ah! Se eu Pudesse," and "O Barquinho" (all by Roberto Menescal/Ronaldo Bôscoli). In 1960, unsubmissive to the iê-iê-iê fashion and needing to work for subsistence, he became a TV show producer. One of his assignments in this task was 1965's Roda de Samba, a musical sketch on TV Record's Corte Rayol Show. He also worked for TV Educativa in Rio after 1973. In that year, he recorded another hit, "Helena, Helena, Helena" (Alberto Land). In 1975, he recorded the LP Lúcio Alves (RCA) with compositions by Chico Buarque, Tom Jobim, and Pixinguinha, among others. His last recording (released by RGE Brasil in 1997) was during the live show Romântico/A Arte do Espetáculo -- ao Vivo, recorded at the Inverno & Verão Festival -- São Paulo in August 1986. ~ Alvaro Neder, Rovi