Ivete Sangalo is widely known in Brazil, where she's known as the Brazilian JLo. But she's only now starting to become a crossover hit in the U.S.
Ivete Sangalo owned the party.
At last Sunday’s Brazilian Day in New York, Brazil’s most famous and popular singers took the stage as more than 1 million people screamed, jumped, sang and danced to her music.
Sangalo, who celebrated her 20-year career with a five-city tour across the U.S., is little known outside of her huge legions of Brazilian fans that can’t seem to get enough of her Axé music, a blend of rhythms such as reggae, merengue, forró, maracatu, among others. Often called the Brazilian Jennifer Lopez or Beyonce, her high-energy party music is huge in her home country.
But to non-Brazilians, her popularity is growing. And some say the singer who has performed with Juanes and Shakira is on her way to becoming the next crossover sensation.
In New York, she emerged on the stage right before the afternoon rain began coming down. She sang some of her biggest hits such as Arerê, Levada Louca, and newest single Tempo de Alegria.
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“I am so glad I get to do something that I love and that it touches so many people,” Sangalo said during an interview in Portuguese moments before the concert.
The last time Sangalo participated in the festival was in 2003. This year, her and her performers took the stage wearing all white. And the crowd went wild.
Sangalo came from humble beginnings. Born in Juazeiro, a small municipality in the state of Bahia, Sangalo is part of a family of musicians. She is the youngest of six siblings. Her father, Alsus Sangalo, used to be a jeweler in the city. As a child, she used to spend time with her father and oldest sister, Monica, rehearsing songs and playing the guitar.
After the death of her father, the whole family had to find a way to make ends meet.
The singer worked as a saleswoman in the mall, and used to sell her mother’s famous ready to eat lunch to coworkers. The so-called quentinhas – an affordable lunch box that comes with rice, beans, chicken or meat. For a long time, Maria Ivete Sangalo’s [Ivete’s mother] quentinhas were the main source of income for the Sangalo family.
At 18, Ivete began singing in local bars. Her first presentation was at a bar in Ondina, a Bahia neighborhood. During that time, the pay was just a dinner. In 1993, she became the lead singer of Banda Eva, an axé music group from Bahia.
Ivete’s soon-to-be successful career had just started.
“First of all, I want to say thank you and thank you because I wouldn’t have got to where I am today or in any other place if it weren’t for the support that I get from the people who love my music,” she said.
With Banda Eva, Ivete Sangalo has seven albums. In her solo career, she recorded 21 albums and has sold more than 15 million records.
Her latest album, Multishow ao Vivo – Ivete Sangalo 20 Anos – has received a gold certificate award and the DVD version received three platinum certificate awards. The concert was recorded in Bahia with more than 40, 000 people in the audience.
The singer is now on tour in her home country. In the month of August alone she has done concerts in Espiríto Santo, Rio de Janeiro, Santa Catarina, Minas Gerais, Pernambuco, Amazônas, Pará, and São Paulo, all of them in Brazil.
“I went to a concert of E O Tchan [a popular Bahia axé music band] in Belo Horizonte. She was part of the show and, if I’m not mistaken, was opening for them,” said Rodrigo Costa, president of Tio Sangalo fan Club in Newark, New Jersey.
That concert, Costa said, was 18 years ago. His love for his favorite singer has only gotten bigger. He has met Sangalo five times, waited for her in front of hotels, gone to the airport to see her, and said that every time he gets to spend time with the singer she will “hug you and kiss you.”
“What I admired most about her is that, even though she is famous and has money, she doesn’t get tired of working. … When you’re near her, you feel the positivity. [As a fan] It feels really good to have this positive feedback,” Costa said.
In the past 20 years, Sangalo has also worked with Dave Matthews, Shakira, Juan Luis Guerra and Alejandro Sanz, to name a few.
According to the singer’s official website, she has more than 200 registered fan clubs, has more than 10 million followers on Twitter, her Facebook page has more than 10 million fans and has more than 2 million followers on Instagram.
In 2010, Sangalo performed at the Madison Square Garden in New York City, where she recorded her live album “Multishow Ao Vivo: Ivete Sangalo no Madison Square garden.” The concert was sold out. The album sold 300,000 copies before its release date. It also earned her gold certificate for the concert’s CD version and diamond record certificate for the DVD version from the Brazilian Association of Record Producers.
Today, Sangalo is no doubt one of the most accomplished Brazilian singers. She is married to Daniel Cady, a Brazilian nutritionist. The couple has one son, Marcelo Cady, 4.
To her fans, she promises to keep making music for as long as she can.
“Please count on me,” she said, “to bring happiness, love, and celebration to your lives.”