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Born Sebastião Rodrigues Maia in Rio de Janeiro in 1942, Tim Maia performed a wide variety of musical genres, from bossa nova and samba to American pop and MPB. He was the second youngest of 19 children and grew up in the Tijuca neighborhood of Rio. He began performing as a teenager, and then lived in the United States for four years before returning to Brazil. He began mixing American soul and Brazilian samba and making records in the 1970s. He enjoyed commercial success until his death at age 55 in 1998. In addition to his music, he was known for being outspoken and not always reliable, sometimes missing shows or meetings.
In honor of what would have been his 70th birthday, David Byrne’s record label Luaka Bop released a new collection of Tim Maia songs called Nobody Can Live Forever: The Existential Soul. Slate has a great playlist where you can hear songs from the album for free.
One of Tim Maia’s most famous songs, Imunização Racional (Que Beleza!), was later remade by other bands, so you might be familiar with it. Listen to the original here: