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Wednesday’s Wise Woman … Dona Zica

November 28, 2012

Album Cover 1976

When I began researching Dona Zica (Euzbia Silva do Nascimento) 1923-2003 with my limited resources I soon became disappointed as there was little information. Except that she was considered to be a major figure in the development of samba and its movement from the favelas to the streets of Rio and then into the main stream.  After that it was more related to her relationship and marriage to Cartola; the Brazilian singer, composer and poet. My daughter bought me  a CD of the music of Cartola (Top Hat). The cover featured a picture of Angenor de Oliveira better known as Cartola (Portuguese for top hat) as he wore a top hat while working on building sites to protect his hair from brick dust. Beside him in the picture is his wife Dona Zica who performs with Cartola on the CD.

Dona Zica was the old guard of Sambista Mangueira one of the most traditional Samba Schools in Rio which also had international acclaim.  Dona Zica was considered to be the symbol of Rio Carnival.  Dona Zica and Cartola were childhood friends.  At 19 Dona Zica married her first husband and had 5 children and adopted another. She was widowed after 20 years; and was reunited with Cartola; who had also been married and widowed, but without children.  Dona Zica and Cartola married and stayed together until he died in 1980.
Following the death of his first wife he left the music scene and he was presumed dead.  He was later found, according to a popular story, by Sergio Porto a journalist in 1956 while working as car-washer.
Porto reintroduced Cartola into the music scene by organising radio shows to promote his work. In 1963 after a struggle they were able to take the favelas’ samba to the city streets. It was at this time when Cartola met Dona Zica and her husband Eugênio Agostine  who owned the Zicartola a bar-cum-restaurant in downtown Rio de Janeiro, which became known as the most important samba establishment of that time, providing a link between the traditional sambistas and the  beginning of the Bossa Nova movement.

I have this romantic idea that it was Dan Zica’s influence that brought Cartola back from obscurity and to become not just as a famous composer but as a performer and recording artist. However I would like to know more about her life.  

Dona Zica died 2003

2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 7, 2013 8:07 am

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