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Elton Medeiros is one of the most respected sambistas alive. He has worked and was partners with the who's who of samba, like Cartola, Nelson Cavaquinho, Mauro Duarte, Zé Kéti, Candeia, Guilherme de Brito, Clementina de Jesus, Paulinho da Viola, and others. Some of his hits are "Clementina, Cadê Você?," "Mascarada" (with Zé Kéti), "Rosa de Ouro" (with Hermínio Bello de Carvalho/Paulinho da Viola), "Sofreguidão" (with Cartola), "O Sol Nascerá" (with Cartola), "Coração de Ouro" (with J. Santana), "Quatro Crioulos" (with J. Santana), "Pressentimento" (with Hermínio B. de Carvalho), and "Maioria Sem Nenhum" (with Mauro Duarte). Has had over 130 recorded compositions. He is one of the padrinhos (sponsors) of the Ala dos Compositores da Portela (Portela's composers' section). Abroad, he has performed in the Cannes, France, festival, in the Black Arts Festival in Dakar, Senegal, in the Encontro Luso-Brasileiro da Cultura, Portugal, in the Marché International du Disque et Édition Musicale, Cannes, France. He has lectured and performed in Stockholm, Örebro, and Uppsola, Sweden, and has also performed several times through Latin America. He formed three samba schools: GRES Tupi de Brás de Pina (in the late '40s), GRES Unidos de Lucas (1967), and GRAN Quilombo.
He was raised in the working-class suburb of Brás de Pina, in the north side of Rio's, in a musical family. His father was a member of the ranchos Mimosas Cravinas, Flor do Abacate, and Corbeille das Flores. In 1938, Elton Medeiros and his brother Aquiles Medeiros formed a bloco with neighborhood friends, which would later merge with the bloco Unidos de Cintra, becoming known as União do Amor; his early compositions date from that period. At the same time, he played trombone and saxophone in his high school band, and drums on the weekends in a dance band.
He became a professional trombonist, working in the '40s in the Fogão Gafieira and in the Rádio Roquette Pinto. In the late 40's, Medeiros met Zé Kéti, with whom he would write important sambas. With Jocir Santana he formed the bloco Tupi de Brás de Pina. His first recorded samba was "Caprichos da Natureza" by Titino, in the early '50s. In 1954, his samba-enredo "Exaltação a São Paulo" won the internal selection and was presented by the Portela samba school. In the next year, Jorge Goulart interpreted the samba in the radio, in an arrangement by Radamés Gnattali with symphonic orchestra and ten matchbox players. In the same period, Jamelão recorded his samba de terreiro "Falta de Queda" (with Ari da Pinga). In the early '60s, he was a member of the important samba group A Voz do Morro, which recorded his and other composers' sambas through Musidisc. The historic show Opinião (1964) had his "O Sol Nascerá" (with Cartola) sung by Nara Leão. The song would also be included in Nara's first LP. In 1965, he presented his compositions, playing and singing in the also-historic show Rosa de Ouro, which was recorded live and released in two Odeon LPs. In 1966, he recorded the LP Na Madrugada (RGE) with Paulinho da Viola. Also in 1966, he participated in the Black Arts Festival in Dakar, Senegal, accompanying Clementina de Jesus, and wrote the soundtrack of the film Edu, Coração de Ouro (Domingos de Oliveira). In 1967, he formed the group Os Cinco Crioulos, with other historic sambistas, who recorded through Odeon.
His first solo album, Elton Medeiros, came in 1973. "Pressentimento" (Elton Medeiros/Hermínio Bello de Carvalho), which had the third place of the Bienal do Samba, was included in the album. With Candeia, Guilherme de Brito and Nelson Cavaquinho he recorded the album Quatro Grandes do Samba (Four Big Names of Samba), performing with the same in the show Roda. In 1986, he performed in Portugal, and in 1991, he toured Sweden.