Marília Mendonça, a woman who embodied the power of Brazilian samba, died Monday when the her plane crashed in Rio de Janeiro’s poor Teresópolis neighborhood. She was 36.
Three members of the band and the general manager were also killed, local media reported.
The Aegean Airlines charter plane ran into heavy rain and violent winds as it attempted to land at Galeao International Airport, a suburb of Rio. The news came a day after the official death of famed samba star Vinicius de Moraes.
By all accounts, Marília Mendonça was Brazilian music’s most promising female singer, surpassing more iconic figures like samba star Dulce Garcia and samba queen Cleo Laine. She was known for mixing classically sensual melodies with current samba rhythms and the rumba.
Marília Mendonça, who launched the hugely successful Marília Mendonça y Artaglio do Patólas (Musee Patóla Mendonça), or The Party of Patóla, in 2005, had been out promoting her new album, Do It Alone (de Patóla Mendonça) on a tour of North America.
Born in São Paulo, Mendonça began her musical career with a boy band called Bada Bata while studying in a music conservatory in Brazil’s capital. She then worked as an exotic dancer, sometimes with the likes of famed samba singer Ruud Gullit.
She became known by jazz fans after working with Sarah Vaughan’s son Frank and the singer’s former bandleader, Joe Pass. But her music made waves in the samba world.
The half-British, half-Brazilian artist, who was half-Spanish, shared one of her most famous songs, the upbeat “Pe de Campo,” with Britain’s David Bowie, who wrote the lyrics for his band The Spiders from Mars.
She also became a hot topic on Twitter, attracting the ire of conservative Brazilian politicians, some of whom claimed she was inauthentic and an example of corrupt Brazilian culture.