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In 2014, the Brazilian singer, actor, dancer, and model Carlos Dias, who had costarred in the country’s hit productions of Chicago, Grease, and Beauty and the Beast and acted in several smash novelas (Brazilian soap operas), took the biggest gamble of his career: He left his hometown of São Paulo to move to Manhattan and sing. “New York was the dream of my life,” he says. “My favorite music when I grew up was more American than Brazilian: rock and roll, jazz, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, all the great names.” Luck as well as talent were with him: Soon he began a two-year residency at B.B. King’s Blues Club & Grill, one of the city’s most prestigious venues.Read More
Now Carlos has released a valentine to his two greatest American idols. On his CD Copacabana Station, he lends his warm, sexy baritone and Brazilian flair to the trademark songs of Sinatra
and Nat King Cole. Joining him are Sinatra’s onetime bassist Gene Perla (who has also played with Miles Davis, Sarah Vaughan,
Dizzy Gillespie, and Joni Mitchell), Brazilian guitarist Wesley Amorim, drummer Helio Schiavo, Brazilian singer and longtime New York resident Vanessa Falabella, and other top-flight musicians. In Dias’s hands, even the most familiar Cole and Sinatra standards—“Mona Lisa,” “Come Fly with Me,” “Nature Boy,” “My Funny Valentine,” “Straighten Up and Fly Right”—sound reborn.
In his teens, Carlos launched a busy modeling career, one that took him back and forth between Brazil and Australia. But he had far wider ambitions. He studied acting and dancing extensively while developing a strong love of music, thanks largely to the influence of his beloved grandfather, Clemente Capella, who for 45 years played first violin in the orchestra of São Paulo’s Teatro Municipal. He studied piano and voice; and because so many of his favorite songs were American, he sought to improve his English. Carlos asked his agent to find work for him in the U.S. so that he could go there and study the language. Instead he was sent to Sydney, where his modeling career continued to explode.
Over the next fifteen years he expanded his career in several directions. Carlos became a first-call leading man for Brazilian adaptations of Broadway musicals. For nearly six years he was a backup singer for Edson Cordeiro, the famous Brazilian pop countertenor and male dance-music diva. Later Carlos released several CDs of dance music, recorded with his own band. He attained the goal of most Brazilian actors by winning parts in a string of novelas, the limited-run, primetime network soap operas that are among the highest-rated programs on Brazilian TV. His expertise in capoeira (the balletic Brazilian martial art) earned him a stint as an acrobat
in a circus. Finally he found his way to North America, where he spent seven months modeling and studying acting in San Francisco.
Singing was still his greatest joy. In 2006 he recorded a demo of American standards. Carlos dreamed of living to New York, yet feared moving to a place where he didn’t knew anyone. Only when he met Brazilian singer Vanessa Falabella, who prior to 9/11 had lived in Manhattan for a decade, did he find a solution. He and Vanessa began performing as a duo, then they decided to move together to New York.
Quickly they scored a gig at a top jazz club, Iridium, where they sang Brazilian and American standards. In 2015 they began their long engagement at B.B. King’s. Says Carlos: “I wondered, how can I present the standards here in New York City, being a Brazilian? So I brought all the standards a Brazilian flavor. I started singing ‘All of Me’ playing just the pandeiro [a Brazilian tambourine]. People loved it. I had people saying, ‘Oh, you’re the Brazilian Frank Sinatra.’ I was doing a tribute to Sinatra and Tom Jobim, mixing jazz and bossa nova. I had met Gene Perla, Sinatra’s bassist, and he agreed to play with me.” At the end of 2015, Carlos began working on Copacabana Station.
Clearly, he made the right choice by becoming a New Yorker. “This is the city that brings together everybody who is the best. That’s why I love this place. My dream is just to keep singing, touring my music around the world and sharing my experiences.”