Thursday, June 1, 2017

Heleninha Costa in 1950


Heleninha Costa nee Helena da Costa Grazioli was popular at a time known as radio-auditorim-era - that spanned from the early-1940s to late 1950s. It was a time when Radio was King in Brazil and most of the broadcasting was done from Rio de Janeiro, the Nation's capital.

Weekly magazine 'Carioca' sent journalist Miguel Cury to interview Heleninha at home, in 1950 and she tells him she earned enough money to buy an apartment for herself; even though she sang Carnaval hits she was a really private person to go out and enjoy herself during those festivities. She confessed she fancied actor Burt Lancaster and would welcome his kisses.

This interview was done a few weeks before she met her own Prince Charming in the person of Ismael Netto. At first they would not see eye-to-eye but eventually he would write 'Afinal' that shot to Number One in the charts in June 1951 and made Heleninha a 'real winner'.


Heleninha Costa was born on 18 January 1924, in Rio de Janeiro but moved to Santos-SP when she was still a baby.

Helena sang at ‘Hora Infantil’ on Radio Club de Santos in 1938, when she was only 14 years old and became a regular performer at the radio station until she moved on to Radio Atlantica in 1939

At her school holidays, Heleninha would visit her grandparents in Rio and ended up singing at Radio Mayrink Veiga in one of those times.

After  Heleninha graduated as an accountant, she was signed by Radio Tupi in São Paulo but after 6 months had to leave because her father, who was a Federal public servant was re-assigned to Rio and the whole family moved back to their original place.

Helena performed at Radio Nacional and Rio de Janeiro’s Radio Club while also singing at the Casino at Urca – the poshest in the country. She was lucky enough to have been given ‘Exaltação à Bahia’ written by the Casino’s pianist Vicente Paiva to record. As the song became popular Heleninha’s star also moved up.

Heleninha also travelled the country singing at radio stations in Bahia, Pernambuco and Pará. She was invited by Cesar de Alencar to join Radio Mayrink Veiga staying there for 3 years before she moved finally to Radio Nacional where she'd meet her future husband Ismael Neto

As late as 1967, Heleninha Costa recorded for Carnaval at RGE: 'Eu não quero lembrar' (Renato Araujo-Denise Belenar) b/w 'Enxugue as lagrimas' (Nelson Karam-J.Santos) 
album made up of recordings done while Heleninha sang at the microphone of Radio Nacional.

Collector's Editora Ltda. releases album # 16 in which Heleninha Costa is honoured. All tracks were taken from live performances Heleninha did at Radio Nacional and some of them have never been released as records before.

The liner-notes say Heleninha started at Radio Clube de Santos circa 1938, then moved up to Sao Paulo on Radio São Paulo, Record & Bandeirantes. Her first record 'Sortes de São João' (Osvaldo Santiago-Alcir Pires Vermelho) b/w 'Apesar da goteira no quarto' (Pedro Caetano-Alcir Pires Vermelho) was released by Columbia (55.223) on 25 May 1940.

In 1943, Heleninha moves back to Rio de Janeiro where she performs at posh Casino da Urca and is signed by Radio Clube do Brasil. In September 1943 Columbia releases 'Exaltação à Bahia' (Chianca de Garcia-Vicente Paiva)  55.463-B - which becomes her greatest hit until 1951.

Heleninha started at Columbia in 1940 which changes its name to Continental in early 1944. Heleninha's first release for Continental is 'Balança o bebê' (15.106). She signs up with Sinter in 1950 which turned out to be her most prolific phase having charted with 'Junto de ti', 'Afinal' (her greatest hit ever), 'Felicidade' and 'Acho-te uma graça' (with Cesar de Alencar).

In mid-1952, RCA Victor poached her from Sinter and released a string of hits like 'Baião serenata', 'Barracão', 'Mister Eco', 'Morro' and 'Santo Amaro'.

'Barracão' (Luiz Antonio-Oldemar Teixeira Magalhães) was recorded on 20 August 1952 and released in November for Carnaval 1953 (80-1007-B) and would be completely forgotten by now if not for Elizeth Cardoso who revived it at a concert on 19 February 1968, in which she was accompanied by Jacob do Bandolim & Epoca de Ouro. It was recorded live at Teatro João Caetano, released as an album and E.P. and entered Brazilian musical history.

By 1955, Heleninha migrated to Copacabana Records having had hits like 'Juca', 'Radio-patrulha', 'É luxo só' (she was the first to record what would become another Ary Barroso evergreen) and 'Madeira de lei'.

In 1959, Heleninha is signed by Todamerica which is in its dying throes and realeases only 8 tracks. And that's all she wrote. Collector's Editora Ltda ends Heleninha Costa biography here. But we have just found out she recorded a single for RGE as late as 1966. 

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