5 artists to connect you to Brazil’s culture

by Daniel Alexander

Isolated at home? Luckily, there are ways to explore a culture without traveling, and one of them is through music.

Brazil is a nest of great musicians and songwriters, some known around the globe. You probably have heard a few of them, such as Tom Jobim, known for Garota de Ipanema (The Girl from Ipanema). Or perhaps, on the contemporary side, you have listened to Anitta and her tunes made in collaboration with Latin American artists. 

We can’t deny that music is rooted in the Brazilian soul and is a massive part of the culture. If you’re a student immersing yourself for some time somewhere in the country, you’re going to fall in love with genres such as forró, brega, sertanejo, bossa nova, among many others. Also, through this Brazilian blend, you hear unique accents, words, and slang shared by people all over the country, helping you learn Portuguese in a fun way.

Since Amizade was founded in the north of Brazil, we’re highlighting five talented musicians with a special connection to the community where our journey started 25 years ago. We believe that our Brazil alumni might know some of these names—perhaps you even ran into them while serving and learning in Santarém with us! 


André Coruja

Kicking off this list, we highlight the independent musician and songwriter André Coruja, who, by the way, also helped us run service-learning programs in 2016 while spending a season in Santarém. André lived his whole life in Belém, the largest city in the north of the country, before going overseas to explore an international career in Europe. With lyrics in Portuguese and English, his songs reflect his travel experiences, whether driving a van across Europe or immersed in the Amazon region with family, friends, and strangers.

Song pick: Flutua 

É, eu vi o mar, mas acho que ele não me viu.

(Yes, I’ve seen the sea. But I think it hasn’t seen me) 

Bonus track: Brazil alumni, watch the music video of Stay Close to The World and the beautiful landscapes seen in Santarém will bring tears to your eyes.

Listen to André Coruja on Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube.

Jana Figarella

The second name on our list is also an independent artist. Despite being born in Manaus, the second-largest city in the North of Brazil, Jana discovered in Santarém a place to unveil her talent as a songwriter and singer. Her song Nada Se Compara (Nothing Compares) is one of Santarém’s unofficial anthems given its lyrics expressing her true love to the city—nine out of ten locals know this song. Other than being a musical artist, Jana has a degree in Performing Arts and ventured an international career in Portugal.

Song pick: Nada Se Compara

Eu digo égua, falo pai d’égua. Não nego a ninguém. Meu orgulho é Santarém.

(I say égua*, say pai d’égua*. I don’t deny. Santarém is my pride)

*Local slang. 

Listen to Jana Figarella on Spotify.



Going to the mainstream, we introduce you to Otto, from the northeast of Brazil. His music spans genres like contemporary, brega, and electronic. Otto is added to this list because of a unique story shared by locals in Santarém. While spending a vacation with family in the city, Otto paid a visit to the village of Alter-do-Chão, one of the most beautiful beaches in the world according to the British newspaper The Guardian. Stupefied by the gorgeous scenery and the dark blue waters of the Tapajos river, he saw God’s hand in that creation and wrote a song about this experience. Whether it’s a true story or not, he deserves a space on this list. 

Song pick: O dedo de Deus

O dedo de Deus tocou em mim.

(God’s finger touched me)

Listen to Otto on Spotify.


Priscila Castro

If you’ve been to bars in Santarém, there’s a good chance that you have listened to Priscila Castro performing accompanied by a guitar player. It’s common for musicians in Brazil to perform at local bars, and many become hugely famous because of that. Other than singing cover songs of renowned Brazilian artists, Priscila Castro is known for singing traditional music from the genre called Carimbó, as seen in her most recent music video.

Song pick: Carimbó com Merengue

Me perguntam, qual é o meu forte. E eu digo, foi nascer no Norte.

(They ask me, why I’m strong. And I say, I was born in the North)

Listen to Priscila Castro on YouTube.


Sebastião Tapajós

Hail to the king! Last but not least, Sebastião Tapajós is the crème de la crème of this list. Born in Santarém, Sebastião is a distinguished composer and guitar player with over 20 albums produced and sold around the world. He mastered guitar playing when he was only nine years old, and his talent and passion for music took him to travel and study in countries like Portugal and Spain. Nowadays, Sebastião lives a humble life in Santarém, where he often performs in jazz festivals. His musical genre can be described as a Brazilian Amazonian Jazz.

Song pick: Valsa da Esquina

Listen to Sebastião Tapajós on Spotify.


That’s all folks! If you like what you heard, leave us a message below. We hope that by connecting with these artists, you can get to experience the Brasilidade often felt by Amizade participants during our programs. Perhaps in the future, we can connect you with them through a virtual service-learning program.

Find out more about Amizade’s service-learning programs in Santarém.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this musical journey to Brazil! Stay tuned for more stories like this featuring other Amizade sites. 


Support our community partners around the world by making a donation to Amizade’s COVID-19 Relief Fund.