Flavia Coelho: Sonho Real

She is innocent and wise, a nomad and a poet, an alchemist of styles whose music is more colorful than the sum of its parts. Flavia Coelho, a girl from the slums of Rio de Janeiro who sang in the Paris métro and emerged a star, had none of the resources but all the energy and talent she needed. On Sonho Real (Dream Come True), her third album, she mixes elements of forró, ska, reggae and dub, spins … More Flavia Coelho: Sonho Real

Pauline Croze: Bossa Nova

When bossa nova swept the world, no country was more receptive than France. Marcel Camus’ Oscar-winning film Black Orpheus—music by Tom Jobim and Luiz Bonfá—channeled the Brazilian wave to new audiences. French artists translated and sang bossa nova anthems, and some composed original music in the genre. Sixty years later, the beat goes on. After three solid albums of pop/folk groove, French singer-guitarist Pauline Croze has taken on the bossa nova canon with poise … More Pauline Croze: Bossa Nova

Cristina Branco: Menina

Cristina Branco is a fado virtuoso but her interpretation isn’t confined to a single genre, nor is her inspiration limited to the world of music. Menina (Girl), her fourteenth album, began with a dream about Diego Velázquez’s iconic painting Las Meninas, in which the figures come to life. The vision prompted her to write a self-portrait that she shared with several musicians, asking them to deliberate on her text and come up with songs. The resulting album reflects feminine sensibilities, habits and passions … More Cristina Branco: Menina

Bonga: Recados de Fora

The singer-songwriter Bonga Kuenda is as relevant to Angola’s culture today as he was when his country broke free from Portugal in 1975—remarkable considering he spent most of the intervening years in exile. A thorn in the side of the old Portuguese dictatorship and then to the corrupt leaders who came dominate the newly independent nation, he has been a voice of liberty, identity and protest. Recados de Fora (Messages from Elsewhere)—his thirty-first … More Bonga: Recados de Fora

Roberta Sá: Delírio

It’s no surprise that samba featured prominently at the Rio Olympics. But in the 100 years of Brazil’s iconic music form —the first song was registered in November 1916—samba has often struggled for respect. The singer-songwriter-novelist Chico Buarque remembers a critic who called him a sambista in a belittling way he took as an insult. When Carmen Miranda conquered Hollywood some Brazilians turned up their noses, at least in part because … More Roberta Sá: Delírio

Ana Moura: Moura

Fado is about soul and spirit, and Ana Moura is extraordinary at both. On her landmark sixth album, two of the more passionate and traditional songs (Moura and Moura Encantada) play off her name: in Portuguese folklore, mouras encantadas are enchanted, seductive beings, capable of transformation, who promise treasures to whoever frees them from the spell under which they live. But Moura, the leading fadista of her generation—who doesn’t so much cross into other genres as … More Ana Moura: Moura

Hellen Caroline: Meu Jeito de Ser

On the strength of Hellen Caroline’s first album in 2014, critics and Brazilian fans dubbed her “the Princess of Pagode.” The title didn’t win her a pair of glass slippers but the album helped her break the glass ceiling of a musical genre that was almost exclusively male. Pagode is breezy offshoot of samba that emerged from the neighborhood squares and backyards of Rio de Janeiro in the late 1970s, relying on the cavaquinho … More Hellen Caroline: Meu Jeito de Ser

Paula Fernandes: Amanhecer

Life is a balancing act, even for overachievers like Paula Fernandes, one of Brazil’s most accomplished and celebrated singer-songwriters. In addition to selling more than 10 million albums, she regularly appears on lists like “most beautiful” and “most Googled.” Part of her charm is the balance between a deep, seductive voice and her farm-girl innocence; part of her struggle is juggling fame and fortune with bouts of depression, about which she has spoken openly … More Paula Fernandes: Amanhecer

Carminho: Canto

Fado means destiny. And for Carminho, destiny is fado, by nature and nurture. Her mother is a fado singer and her parents ran a popular Libson fado club; her sumptuous and nuanced voice soars without roaring and softens without descending to a whisper. Her third album, a collection of traditional and innovative songs, solidifies her status as one of the leading artists of the fado renaissance. Canto has elements of drama and saudade … More Carminho: Canto

Diogo Nogueira: Porta-voz da Alegria

When a knee injury put an end to Diogo Nogueira’s soccer career, he went into the family business—samba. Son of a renowned sambista, Diogo grew up in the heart of Rio de Janeiro’s musical culture. Since launching his career in 2007 he has won four Latin Grammy Awards; composed for Portela, one of the leading samba schools in Rio’s annual Carnaval; and performed on Copacabana beach on New Year’s Eve … More Diogo Nogueira: Porta-voz da Alegria