Djavan could have been a football player. When he was around 11, 12 years old, he split his time and his passion between football playing in the packed earth fields on the flood plains of Maceió and, the quadraphonic sound equipment of Dr. Ismar Gatto, a school mate's father.
From his first passion, he emerged as a midfielder at CSA football team where he could even have developed a professional career, but it was through the sonorous universe found in Dr. Ismar's record collection, which for the young boy from Alagoas seemed to gather all the music in the world, that the artist Djavan came into existence as a composer, singer, musician and arranger.
Born January 27, 1949, to a poor family, he taught himself to play the acoustic guitar by following poorly edited music scores he found in magazines bought at newspaper stands. At the age of 18 he was already playing at the local city balls with the group Luz, Som, Dimensão (LSD - Light, Sound, Dimension). Soon he realized that he needed to write music.
At 23, Djavan arrived in Rio de Janeiro to try his luck in the musical market. He worked as a crooner at famous nightclubs – Number One and 706. With the help of Edson Mauro, radio broadcaster and fellow citizen, Djavan was introduced to João Mello, a record producer at Som Livre (TV Globo's record company), who took him to TV Globo. From this point on, he started singing the soap-operas' soundtracks for which he recorded the songs of successful songwriters such as Dori Caymmi, Toquinho and Vinicius de Moraes, and the brothers Paulo Sergio and Marcos Valle.
Within three years, in his spare time away from the microphones, Djavan wrote more than 60 songs in different genres. "Fato Consumado" won second place at the Festival Abertura, produced by TV Globo in 1975, and took him to Som Livre recording studios where his first album was produced by the legendary Aloysio de Oliveira (from Carmem Miranda to Tom Jobim) – "A Voz, O Violão, A Musica de Djavan"(1976). It was a samba album, vibrating, syncopated and unlike anything else being done at the time. From a current point of view, this album not only marked the beginning of Djavan's career but also carved his own niche as an undeniable personality in the history of Brazilian music.
Enthusiastic about its newly signed artist, EMI-Odeon decided to invest heavily on Djavan's second album entitled "Djavan". In 1978, with the assemblage of the best musicians in the market, and characterized by great love songs, this album consecrated him as a complete songwriter.
Two years later, in 1980, Djavan released "Alumbramento" and showed that he could also communicate very well with his fellow musicians. The album inaugurated new partnerships with Aldir Blanc, Cacaso and Chico Buarque, by then definitively top-class colleagues in the Brazilian Popular Music scene (MPB).
At this point, Djavan, already acclaimed by specialized music critics and the public, witnessed some of his songs being interpreted by other voices: Nana Caymmi recorded "Dupla Traição", Maria Bethânia – "Álibi", Roberto Carlos – "A Ilha", Gal Costa – "Açaí" and "Faltando Um Pedaço". Caetano Veloso reciprocrated Djavan's homage with the verb caetanear by replacing it for another verb – djavanear - in his version of "Sina". In 1981 and 82 Djavan received the Best Songwriter Award offered by the Art Critics Association of São Paulo.
The cycle of successful albums released by EMI-Odeon ended in 1981 with "Seduzir", an assertion, as Djavan himself wrote on the inner cover: "What little I learned is here. Complete. From head to toe".
Following this release came his first band called Sururu de Capote, with Luiz Avellar (piano), Sizão Machado (bass), Téo Lima (drums) and Zé Nogueira (brass). Also his thin dreadlocks which became one of his trademarks, the first songs talking about África and his first tours throughout Brazil conducted by Monique Gardenberg (producer) and Paulinho Albuquerque (diretor).
In 1982, the song "Flor de Lis", an immediate success from his album "A Voz e O Violão", became Djavan's first hit in the competitive US market sung by the diva Carmen McRae with the title of "Upside Down". It didn't take long for CBS (soon to become Sony Music) to invite him to record an album, "Luz" (1982), in Los Angeles, produced by Ronnie Foster, one of the most important names in the US soul music. The result was a mix of typical for export Brazilian musicality with jazzy american influences.
In 1984, Djavan recorded a second album entitled "Lilás", once again in Los Angeles, followed by a 2-year world tour.
In 1986, he is back in Brasil to record a new album. "Meu Lado" is a return to roots and a new beginning at the same time. A return to samba with a musical style already identified by the public, and also a stroll through the baião, songs and ballads. This is what Djavan is all about after 10 years of career: an explorer of the sounds of words, of unique images and rythmic variety, playing with tempos, unusual melodies and harmonic richness. Fully present in other songs, his African ancestry is imprinted in "Meu Lado" with the song "Hino da Juventude Negra da África do Sul" and even more vigorously in "Soweto", his first song of protest that opened the album "Não É Azul, Mas É Mar" (1987) recorded again in Los Angeles. The next album, "Djavan" (1989), is remembered as "that one with "Oceano", one of those rare songs, a classic, perfect in form, content, music and lyrics.
In 1992, the album "Coisa de Acender" merged innovative rhythms and harmonies and started new partnerships, including among them his daughter, Flávia Virginia, who does the vocals on several tracks. At 45, with 20 years of career, in 1994, Djavan released "Novena", an album that proved his maturity. Totally written, produced and arranged by him, this record consolidated the work with his band – Paulo Calazans (keyboards), Marcelo Mariano or Arthur Maia (bass), Carlos Bala (drums) and Marcelo Martins (brass).
"Malásia" was released in 1996 with a bigger band including Marçalzinho (percussion), Walmir Gil (trumpet) and François Lima (trombone). It also presented three tracks written by other composers: "Coração Leviano" by Paulinho da Viola, "Sorri", a Brazilian portuguese version of "Smile", by Chaplin, and "Correnteza", by Tom Jobim and Luiz Bonfá. In this album Djavan appeared thoughtful and melodious.
"Bicho Solto" (1998) came two years later showing a joyful and dancing artist, putting the dance floor on fire with the rhythm of funk. Both records celebrated Djavan's 20 years of career - the first one showed his personal style and the second the rejuvenation of the artist. Among the partnerships there was Max Viana, his son and guitar player, now definitively incorporated into the band. "Ao Vivo", a double album, reached the 2-million copies mark in 1999. First recorded out of the studio, it brought what amounted to almost an anthology of Djavan's work with 22 big hits out of 24 tracks, The release of this album took Djavan on a 3-year tour. "Milagreiro", released in 2001, represented a double return back home. It was the first album fully recorded in his home studio, with the help of Max Viana, João Viana and Flávia Virginia, and also the return to his hometown, Alagoas, an omnipresent northeastern theme.
In 2004, the musician celebrated his total independence with the creation of his own record company, Luanda Records, which released his next two albums – "Vaidade" (2004) and "Matizes" (2007) – and also "Na Pista Etc..." (2005) with remixed dancing versions of his songs. It was the emergence of the entrepreneur Djavan Caetano Viana. But what does the entrepreneur Djavan want from the artist Djavan? That he go from swing to blues, through ballads and his extremely typical way of making a samba, always keeping his characteristic right hand on the acoustic guitar, and inspired by daily life to enrich his lyrics. May he continue his constant search for renewed ways of making music.
Those three albums are the result of Djavan Caetano Viana, as an entrepreneur or a businessman if you like. But what does the entrepreneur Djavan really expects from the artist Djavan?
That with a heavy hand on his acoustic guitar he would keep his journey from the rhythms of samba and blues and jazz and choro, combining it with lyrics inspired by everyday life; One wishes that he would keep this constant search for new ways of making music, without loosing his ability to keep his very own distinct style.
One of these paths is explicit in the eagerly awaited album "Ária" (2010), the first where Djavan practices exclusively the art of interpreting other composer's songs. Always strict as to how he conducts his carrer, Djavan waited for the height of his vocal maturity to lean over a repertoire chosen between his affective memory and his antennas constantly capturing and plugged into what is musical and interesting. The result is the re-invention of classic songs, the discovery of hidden treasures, good music indeed. With the same ear and enthusiasm of that boy from Maceió who one day put away the soccer ball for the sake of music.
2012 - "Rua dos Amores"
After a four-year gap from writing his own music while working on his previous album “Aria”, Djavan has now released his newest work, “Rua dos Amores”.Djavan is responsible for all melodies and lyrics of all 13 new songs within “Rua dos Amores” and with an undeniable natural ability to write and compose music, the new album travels through most of the rhythms and sounds of Brazilian music.“Rua dos Amores” it’s an album of love songs, fact! Nevertheless, these songs are composed in a most diverse and distinctive way. Listening to “Rua dos Amores” is a journey through this diversity without losing a sense of Djavan’s unique musical style. With the excitement of a kid from Maceio who dropped the football for the music he loved the most.
2014 - "Rua dos Amores Ao Vivo"
Assistida no Brasil e no exterior por mais de 400 mil pessoas, a nova turnê de Djavan deu origem ao CD e DVD “Rua dos Amores Ao Vivo”, que marcou a volta do artista à Sony Music em parceria com a sua gravadora Luanda Records. Com direção de Hugo Prata, o DVD foi gravado em novembro de 2013, no HBSC Brasil, em São Paulo.
2014 - The Djavan Special Edition Box
The Djavan Special Edition Box Set was launched in 2014 with his works from 1976 to 2010. Twenty albums remastered for the first time with more than 960 minutes of music and a booklet with all the lyrics, covers and original technical files. Eighteen career albums and two albums of rarities: one Djavan CD with him as interpreter and one with versions of his songs in Spanish and English. The Project has reached the “Golden Box Set” mark for the number of pieces sold.