Dalva de Oliveira

Real name: de Paula Oliveira, Vicentina
(5 May 1917 - 30 August 1972)
Place of birth:
Río Claro (San Pablo) Brazil
Néstor Pinsón

he Jornal do Brasil of the morning after said: «It was a cold and rainy afternoon. Death arrived at 5:15 pm, she was 55 years old, after continuous hemorrhages in the last 24 hours due to varicose veins in the esophagus. She had been hospitalized 40 days before in the room 304 of the Health House Arnaldo de Morais (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil). At 8:30 pm her body was taken to the Teatro João Caetano where a vigil was held for her».

She was born in Rio Claro (São Paulo), daughter of a Brazilian mulatto, workman in carpenter’s workshops —when there was a vacant job— and amateur musician that played saxophone and clarinet. Her mother, born in Portugal, used to sell pastries in the street that she herself cooked. So the green-eyed mulatto girl was growing up in a home of extreme poverty. She was seventeen when they settled in Rio de Janeiro. She was baby-sitter, seamstress in a sport shoe factory and kitchen assistant. And, for some time, she had already been singing with her father’s accompaniment at some occasional barroom and, also, under the canvas of circuses.

When she was employed she used to sing while working and one of her bosses who was also director of a radio station was interested in her outstanding voice —which she was developing from alto to soprano— and presented her for an audition –that she passed satisfactorily- and so she started on Radio Mineira of Belo Horizonte around 1933. The public’s answer was immediate and in 1935 she joined the cast of Radio Mayrink Veiga of Rio de Janeiro. It is worthwhile to mention that she teamed up as duo with the very young singer, guitarist and prolific composer, Noel Rosa, the Poet of Samba.

At age twenty she met Herivelto Martins in Rio de Janeiro. Soon she works with him and they live together. In 1939 they married. Herivelto was singer, guitarist and composer, and time later he became one of the most important figures in the musical history of Brazil. Out of all his creations we highlight the bolero “Caminemos” that the Trío Los Panchos spread worldwide.

By that time he was member of the Duo Preto e Branco. He was white and Nilo Chagas was black. Dalva joined that duo that had a good following and so they turned into Dalva de Oliveira and the Duo Preto e Branco. Thereafter they recorded as the Trio de Ouro. Five years later, in 1941, they dismembered.

Dalva and Herivelto had two sons: Pery Ribeiro, famous singer that inherited the voice and the green eyes of her mother and his father’s talent (he died on February 24, 2012 at age 74) and the later television producer Ubiratan Oliveira Martins.

A journalist said that Dalva’s life was like a melodrama with love affairs, much money and tragedies. Her kids were sent to a boarding school and were visited only on some weekends and on holidays. That was the consequence of work engagements but also because of the father’s denunciation who reported that Dalva was not capable of raising them due to her way of life. However, it was she who requested the divorce because of the frequent infidelities and other attitudes of her husband. The breaking up was formalized in 1947 with their separation.

She went on with her career as soloist. That year she released her first album with songs. In 1951 she was called La Reina de la Radio (The Queen of the Radio) and also La Reina de la voz (The Queen of Vocalists). The consecrated Jobim was the arranger in several numbers of her repertoire.

She began a tour of South America and arrived in Buenos Aires. Here’s where this note is reaching the corresponding identity. The most important radio station in our country, LR1 Radio El Mundo, hired her. She came to know the actor who appeared in revues and in around twenty movies, Alberto Tito Climent (1917-1988), also script writer and playwright, who became her manager and friend.

She recorded a large number of tangos accompanied by Francisco Canaro who, for the occasion, formed a sextet. We have found 27 numbers but it is possible that some others may exist. An interesting detail to highlight is the fact that she sang them in her own language, that they were translated into Portuguese and so they form a whole with the rest of her repertoire, besides knowing the meaning of each of them for an interpretation suitable to her style. In the case of Dalva, her notable voice, her devotion, the right drama, make us think that tango must have been her means of expression beyond, save for some exceptions, the rhythms she naturally used to dig. It was as if our authors had written for her, as if she had found in tango the way to express the anguish of her life.

Throughout her career she recorded a great number of boleros but in “Vete de mí” her interpretation is wonderful. In some tangos like “Cristal”, “Sueño azul”, “Tristeza marina” or “El pañuelito” she allows herself to toy with her soprano range by emitting a series of chirpings that make the song more brilliant.

She lived with Tito since 1950, she was based in our city and they began to make tours. They arrived in Europe and she was one of the artists that appeared at the party for the coronation of the Queen Elizabeth II of England. In London she recorded 17 songs accompanied by the international orchestra led by Roberto Inglez (in fact, Robert Inglis). They went to France and married in a church of Montmartre.

Tito was author of some numbers: “Recordar”, “Sueño de pobre”, “Intriga”, “Brasil saudoso”, “Lejos de mí”. Wishing to raise a child because she failed to do that with her two sons because when they left the boarding school they were grown-ups, she tried to have that experience with Tito. They adopted a girl whom they called Lucy Dalva de Oliveira Climent. When she tried to return to Brazil with her a similar story took place again. Tito was against it and before the court he stated that he did not think she was capable to raise a child because of her way of life. The court ruled in the father’s favor and she had to return alone. The definitive separation was in 1963.

Two years later, because of a car accident that brought forth several dead people, she was bedridden in a grave condition. For five years she withdrew from show business.

She is regarded as the «voice of Brazil». She reappeared with a scar on her face and a torn spirit. Press people was always behind her, watching her steps and her heavy drinking. As for her audience she said she had no fans but friends. She was rich and unhappy. Her third marriage was nonsense: she was 47 years old and married a nineteen year old boy. Two films were shot about her life. A square in her hometown is named after her.

Her tango songbook included: “Sin palabras”, “Canción desesperada”, “Che papusa oí”, “Nostalgias”, “Yira yira”, “Cristal”, “Cuartito azul”, “La última copa”, “Tristeza marina”, “Verdemar”, “Vida mía”, “El pañuelito”, “Sus ojos se cerraron”, “Dejame”, “Cantando”, “Volverás”, “Sueño azul”, “Fumando espero” “La copa del olvido”, “Confesión”, “El día que me quieras”, “Oro y plata”, “Vete de mí”, “Dónde estás corazón”, “Historia de un amor”, “Enamorada estoy”, “Una lágrima tuya”.