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Beth Carvalho was born in the working class suburb of Gamboa but was raised in the middle class South Side. At the age of seven, she was performing in novice shows in several Carioca radios, like the Nacional. At the same time, she studied musical theory at the Escola Nacional de Música. With the bossa nova movement gaining informal venues like universities and schools, she gave her initial musical steps into that style. Her first recording, for example, was the single "Por Quem Morrer De Amor" (Roberto Menescal/Ronaldo Bôscoli). She also performed another bossa nova with Tibério Gaspar, musician/composer at the time, and in the bossa group Conjunto 3-D (Antônio Adolfo, piano, Chico Batera, drums, Luís, bass), singing with Eduardo Conde. But at the same time, evidenced her infatuation for the typical samba of the hills by participating in the show A Hora E A Vez Do Samba with Zé Keti and Os Cinco Crioulos.
In 1968, her interpretation for "Andança" (Danilo Caymmi/Edmundo Souto/Paulinho Tapajós) received third place at the III Festival Internacional da Canção. The success achieved gave birth to the first LP, Andança, which included the song that became a classic of MPB, being re-recorded by many great singers like Maria Bethânia, Elis Regina, and Nana Caymmi. The big turning point came in 1971 when she recorded the samba-enredo "Rio Grande Do Sul Na Festa Do Preto Forro" for the samba school Unidos de São Carlos. From then on, she dedicated herself to performing sambas, tightening her bonds with the hill culture. The recording of "Só Quero Ver" (Edmundo Souto/Paulinho Tapajós) was a big hit and, excited by seeing it being sung in Salgueiro and Mangueira's rodas de samba, Carvalho decided that she would follow the in-your-face way of making music of the traditional communities of the hills. And it is as a samba singer that she moved for Tapecar company, where she recorded the single "Amor, Amor," followed by the LP Canto Por Um Novo Dia, with samba icons like Geraldo Vespar, Nelson Cavaquinho (playing his unique violão in "Folhas Secas"), Luizão, Marçal, Luna, Eliseu, Martinho da Vila, and the group Nosso Samba. In 1974, the LP Pra Seu Governo also had Nelson Cavaquinho playing and singing and had a hit with "1800 Colinas" (Gracia do Salgueiro). The album had an excellent performance in Brazil and was also released in France. It opened the doors for a season in a Parisian nightclub. Nos Botequins Da Vida (1977) sold 400,000 copies with the hits "Saco de Feijão" (Francisco Santana) and "Olho Por Olho" (Zé do Maranhão/Daniel Santos).
Since the late '70s, Carvalho, already established as a sambista, supported several young composers who later became famous in the samba and pagode idioms as the carriers of the torch, like Luiz Carlos da Vila, Jorge Aragão, Zeca Pagodinho, Almir Guineto, the group Fundo de Quintal, Arlindo Cruz, and Sombrinha, Moacyr Luz, and the Quinteto em Branco e Preto. On her next LP, 1978's De Pé No Chão, she presented Jorge Aragão (who participated in the recording playing the violão) interpreting his "Vou Festejar," which became a hit. The Cacique de Ramos participated in the percussion for the first time, opening an association that continues to last. Beth Carvalho No Pagode (1979), considered a masterpiece, had her biggest hit of all time, "Coisinha Do Pai" (Jorge Aragão/Almir Guineto/Luiz Carlos). In the late '90s, the song was inserted in the space probe Pathfinder. The album had several other hits, like "Pedi Ao Céu" (Almir Guineto/Luverci Ernesto) and "Tem Nada Não" (Almir Guineto/Luverci Ernesto/Jorge Aragão). Beth Carvalho was paid homage by the samba school Unidos do Cabuçu, which dedicated the samba-enredo "Beth Carvalho, a Enamorada Do Samba" (1984) to her.
As a composer, she wrote with "Canção de Esperar Neném," included in Sentimento Brasileiro (1980). In 1987, she recorded the LP Beth Carvalho Ao Vivo No Festival De Montreux live in the Montreux Festival (Switzerland). In the early '90s she would record another live album abroad, this time at the Olympia (Paris, France), Ao Vivo No Olympia. In 1999, Carvalho had another big national hit in the radio with "Samba De Arerê" (Xande de Pilares/Arlindo Cruz/Mauro Jr.), from the live CD Pagode De Mesa.