Daniela Mercury

Daniela Mercury

Daniela Mercury
Brazil is rich with musical heroes, past as well as present, and Daniela Mercury is one of them, for she was the premier axé performer of the 1990s, with a goddess-like standing in Salvador da Bahia. Mercury, more than anyone, popularized axé internationally. Her breakthrough hit, "Swing da Cor," from her self-titled debut album, was one of the most popular songs in Brazil during 1991, and her follow-up effort, O Canto da Cidade (1993), was a national phenomenon. The first Brazilian album to top a million in sales, O Canto da Cidade continues to sell. Following massive hits such as "Swing da Cor," "O Canto da Cidade," and "Musica de Rua," which established her as perhaps the most popular Brazilian performer of the early '90s -- and certainly the most popular Bahian, rivaling only Marisa Monte nationally -- Mercury eschewed the synthesizers and other such commercial glitz from her early albums, and she proceeded to record what is generally agreed upon as her masterpiece, Feijão com Arroz (1996). The album is a touchstone achievement for axé, featuring hits penned by renowned songwriters such as Carlinhos Brown ("Rapunzel"), Márcio Mello ("Nobre Vagabundo"), and Chico César ("À Primeira Vista"). In subsequent years, Mercury began experimenting with various inflections of axé, drifting for a while deep into electronica, and her fan base dwindled accordingly -- except in Bahia, that is, where she remained infallible. After some years in the commercial hinterlands, Mercury staged a grand comeback with Balé Mulato (2005), a remarkable return to form that echoed the greatness of Feijão com Arroz.

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