Sinhô (1888–1930)

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Sinhô (1888–1930)

Sinhô (José Barbosa da Silva; b. 18 September 1888; d. 4 August 1930), Brazilian songwriter. Born on Rua do Riachuelo, Rio de Janeiro, Sinhô was encouraged to study the flute by his father, who revered chôro performers. Sinhô (his family nickname) eventually abandoned the flute in favor of the piano and guitar. To earn a living, Sinhô played the piano at the society balls and in the dance clubs of Cidade Nova. At twenty-six, he was well regarded as a professional pianist.

His samba "Quem são eles?" (Who Are They?) of 1918 won immediate attention for its innovative rhythm and sparked a musical debate about the samba that soon became tradition in Rio de Janeiro. Organizing a group by the same name, Sinhô and his Quem São Eles? provoked traditional sambistas, who were devoted to their folkloric roots and resented Sinhô's urban melodies. He won tremendous success at Carnival in 1920 with "Fala, meu louro" (Speak, My Parrot), a parody of Rui Barbosa, and "O pé de anjo" (Angel's Foot). Persecuted by the police for his political satire, such as in "Fala baixo" (Speak Softly), a title alluding to government censorship, Sinhô was temporarily forced into hiding. He was named the rei do samba (king of the samba) in 1927 and reached the height of his popularity in 1928 with "Jura" (Promise) and "Gosto que me enrosco" (I Like to Swing), the latter coauthored by Heitor dos Prazeres. Although diagnosed with tuberculosis, Sinhô continued to write music intensively until his death in 1930. Numbering almost 150 published compositions, of which more than 100 have been recorded, Sinhô's music is remembered for its urban character, providing a chronicle of daily life and customs.

See alsoMusic: Popular Music and Dance; Samba.


Marcos Antônio Marcondes, ed., Enciclopédia da música brasileira: Erudita folclórica popular (1977).

Additional Bibliography

Gardel, André. O encontro entre Bandeira e Sinhô. Rio de Janeiro: Prefeitura da Cidade do Rio de Janeiro, Secretaria Municipal de Cultura, Departamento Geral de Documentação e Informação Cultural, Divisão de Editoração, 1996.

                                           Lisa MarÍc