Influential Brazilian singer-songwriter Caymmi dies

Sat Aug 16, 2008 5:54pm EDT
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SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazilian singer-songwriter Dorival Caymmi, who rose to fame in the 1930s by writing a hit song for Carmen Miranda and became known as the grandfather of bossa nova, died on Saturday. He was 94.

Caymmi, who like many of Brazil's musical greats was from the northeastern state of Bahia, died of multiple organ failure at his home in the Copacabana district of Rio de Janeiro, his granddaughter Stella Caymmi told GloboNews television network.

In a career that spanned more than 60 years, the deep-voiced Caymmi composed more than 100 songs and recorded nearly 20 albums. Dozens of artists, from the late Hollywood star Miranda to bossa nova pioneer Joao Gilberto, performed his songs.

Though Caymmi lived most of his life in Rio, the African heritage and rhythms of his home state Bahia were a dominant theme in his music. Classics like "O Que e Que a Baiana Tem? (What Is It That the Bahian Woman Has?)," "Voce Ja foi a Bahia? (Have You Ever Been to Bahia?)" and "Saudades de Itapoa" (Yearning for Itapoa) all evoked his homeland.

The state governors of Bahia and Rio declared three days of official mourning to honor Caymmi, who also inspired great Brazilian musicians such as Antonio Carlos Jobim, Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva called Caymmi's music a national treasure.

Caymmi is survived by his wife and fellow singer Stella Maris, and two sons and a daughter, all of whom are also prominent musicians.

(Reporting by Todd Benson and Renato Andrade; Editing by Xavier Briand)

<p>Brazilian writer Joao Ubaldo Ribeiro stands by the body of his friend, singer-songwriter Durival Caymmi, during the wake in Rio de Janeiro August 16, 2008. REUTERS/Bruno Domingos</p>