Born in Mato Grosso, Brazil, in 1976, singer and composer Vanessa da Mata grew up listening to venerated artists like Antonio Carlos Jobim, Milton Nascimento, and Luiz Gonzaga, as well as the sounds of Rio she picked up on her radio. At 15, she relocated to Uberlândia, Minas Gerais, and began performing in clubs, soon moving to São Paulo to continue her career. She joined a reggae band, even singing with the famed Jamaican group Black Uhuru for a stint, while playing basketball and working as a model in her free time. But despite the strength of her voice, da Mata found her first taste of success as a composer. Teaming up with Chico César, she wrote the song "A Força Que Nunca Seca," the title track for Maria Bethânia's 1999 album, and soon she was also working on pieces for Daniela Mercury, Ana Carolina, and César himself. Now with some years of experience under her belt, da Mata decided to finally record her own solo material, releasing her self-titled debut in 2002. It was her next album, Essa Boneca Tem Manuel, however, that really pushed her into the limelight, aided by the strength of the single "Ai Ai Ai." Three years later, the singer's third album, Sim, was released, and featured appearances from the acclaimed pianist João Donato and American rocker Ben Harper, among others. the set's two singles "Amado" and Boa Sorte/Good Luck" with Harper both topped the Brazilian charts. She received a Latin Grammy for Best Contemporary Brazilian Pop Album. After intense touring, da Mata issued her first live album in an audio-video package entitled Multishow ao Vivo. Released in 2009, it was recorded in partnership with cable television channel Multishow. Though she toured in support of the release, she was anxious to get back to the recording studio. In October of 2010, she issued Bicicletas, Bolos e Outras Alegrias, foreshadowed by the pre-release hit single "O Tal Casal." Its final track, "Quando Amanhecer," was a duet with Gilberto Gil. The following year, she recorded the track "Boa Reza" with Seu Jorge and Almaz. It was included on the HIV/AIDS benefit album Red Hot + Rio 2.
2013 was a big year for the singer/songwriter. From April to June 2013, she was sponsored by Nivea to produce a series of free concerts in several large Brazilian cities. These shows were comprised of the music and songs of composer Tom Jobim. Given their overwhelming popularity, da Mata continued the tour even after the sponsorship ended. In July, she released the album Vanessa da Mata Canta Tom Jobim, a compilation of the material presented in the concerts. She also married Brazilian actor and photographer Geraldo Pestalozzi, though they separated just a couple of years later, and with him, adopted three children. As a cap on 2013, da Mata published her first novel, A Filha das Flores, in October. She returned to straight-up MPB for 2014's Segue o Som, recorded with a large cast that included guitarists Kassin and Liminha (they also co-produced the set) and pianist Lincoln Olivetti. Of its 14 tracks, she wrote or co-wrote 13; the lone cover was a samba version of John Denver's "Sunshine on My Shoulders." Three years later, da Mata issued another audio-video live package entitled Caixinha de Música that topped the Brazilian album charts. ~ Marisa Brown