Angenor de Oliveira, known as Cartola (Portuguese for top hat), was a Brazilian singer, composer and poet considered to be one of the best figures in samba and Brazilian carnival development. He got his nickname because he used a bowler hat while working as a construction worker so the cement would not dirty his hair.
Cartola was born in Rio de Janeiro, in a borough called Catete, but spent his childhood in the neighborhood of Laranjeiras. Due to financial difficulties, the large family moved to Mangueira hill, where a small favela was beginning to appear. In Mangueira, Cartola soon befriended Carlos Cachaça and other sambistas, getting started in the world of "malandragem" and samba. In 1928, they founded the Arengueiros Carnival Street Band, which would later transform in the traditional samba school Estação Primeira de Mangueira, one of the most loved samba-schools in Brazil. Cartola is considered responsible for the choice of colors of the school, which are said to stem from the colors of Fluminense Football Club, which is located iat the Laranjeiras district in Rio de Janeiro.
Below, a rare photo of Cartola.
Cartola became popular in the 1930s, with many sambas recorded at that time. In the beginning of his carrier, Creusa Cartola, his daughter, adopted when she was five years old, was extremely important in launching him as composer, as she was a singer of extremely persuasive voice, singing his sambas in radio programs of this decade. As much that later, it makes participation special in the first LP of Cartola. Later, in the 1940s, Cartola disappeared from the scene. Little is known about that time in Cartola's life, when he departed from Mangueira after disagreements and became depressed with the death of his wife Deolinda; about that time, rumours about his death were speculated. Cartola was found, in a very popular tale, by journalist Sérgio Porto in 1956, working as a car-washer.
Porto took charge of starting to promote Cartola's return, inviting him to radio shows and divulging his work with new partners. Later, in 1963, investing in his struggle to take the favelas' samba to the city streets, Cartola opened together with Eugênio Agostine and his wife Dona Zica the famous Zicartola bar/restaurant in downtown Rio de Janeiro, which became known as the most important samba establishment of that time, providing a link between the traditional sambistas and the incipient Bossa Nova movement. Cartola invited people such as Nélson Cavaquinho, Pixinguinha, Nara Leão, Paulinho da Viola, and Zé Ketti to sing the "low-value" music, as sambistas ironically referred to their work.
Below, the cover a famous Cartola album:
Cartola's real commercial success started in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when he became quite popular and a lot of samba classics were released, such as "O Sol Nascerá", "O Mundo é Um Moinho", "Corra e Olhe o Céu", "Quem me vê Sorrindo" and "Senhora Tentação", with support from singers Elizeth Cardoso, Clara Nunes, Paulinho da Viola and especially Beth Carvalho. He released his first record only at the age of 66, in 1974, and even living in financial difficulties, composed and sang until his death at age 72. Cartola composed, alone or with partners, more than 500 songs and is considered one of Brazil´s Samba real modern founders.
Above, Cartola´s caricature by Baptistão. Cartola is the most depicted artists in Brazil.
Below are the official Cartola released albums: