Renato Guimarães was a tall young Black youth from Rio who had a golden voice.
According to Revista do Radio, Renato was born on 30 September 1940, in Rio de Janeiro. His family lived in Copacabana and was somehow linked to the Brazilian Armed Forces. Renato's godfather was General Paim Pamplona. His younger brother studied at Colegio Militar and Renato himself went to Junior and Senior High School (Cientifico) at Escola da Ilha das Cobras maintained by the Brazilian Navy. He used to sing along for his mates and they spurred him to try the many talent shows so common in the 1950s at various radio stations.
Renato tried PRE-Neno at Radio Mayrink Veiga and was a hit. He had a powerful tenor voice and could belt out like a bird. Some say he 'copied' Cauby Peixoto, that is, he sang in that style developed by Cauby. Renato could also impersonate Sammy Davis, Jr. and Nat King Cole.
Radio Mundial's Jose Messias had a live show where he fostered the inter-action of singers from both Rio and Sao Paulo. Don't forget those markets were utterly independent of one another so singers had to travel back and forth if they wanted to be popular here and there. Chantecler which was mostly a Paulista label had the chance to forward its talents bringing them down to Rio to mingle with the local hit-makers. Mr Messias then made a deal with Alfredo Corleto, Chantecler's P.R. man: he would play Chantecler records on his show if Corleto signed his protegé Renato Guimarães to a recording contract. And that's how Renato got his recording deal.
After a few singles, Renato finally hit the big time with Fernando Dias' 'Poema' which was #1 for the longest time all over the country. Everyone was in awe of Renato's voice. So powerful, so beautiful. He himself cut a great figure having always been tall and lean... and handsome.
Renato had a secret dream which was not that secret anyway. He had been in love with Lourdes, a Paulista show-girl who worked at Colé's company in Rio de Janeiro. If you take the time to read Revista do Radio's 'Mexiricos da Candinha' you'll see that Renato was a one-track-mind fellow. As soon as he hit the big time with 'Poema', he went back to Rio and proposed to Maria de Lourdes Oliveira. They got married on 15 September 1962, at Santa Cecilia's Church in Sao Paulo.
Renato was on top of the world! He bought a sports-car to his bride. He bought another one for himself. Renato got into a partnership and started Saint Germain, a night club at Aeroporto where TV Record had its studio. It's hard to imagine that such a venture would pay in the end. On top of that Renato put more money into a clothes business and by 1964 he had a daughter called Claudia Renata. No wonder his singing career stalled.
Wilson Miranda and Renato Guimarães and his perfect profile at Radio Mundial, Rio. Revista do Radio #578, 15 October 1960.
Radiolandia #360 Renato Guimarães at Jose Messias show on Radio Mundial.
'Correio da Manhã', 3 August 1960; 'Ronda dos Clubes' columnist Luiz Gismondi has an interesting insight about Renato Guimarães after having watched his performance at an impromptu show at the Renascença Club, the topmost Afro-Brazilian association in Rio de Janeiro.
'Ellen de Lima and Luiz Wanderley would have been the stars of the night, but notwithstanding Ellen's popularity and Wanderley's comic genius the greatest applause was directed at Renato Guimarães, a newcomer to the art of using a microphone. The youth has got what it takes and will surely put to the test the imitators of Sammy Davis Jr., Nat King Cole, Billy Daniels, Francisco Jose, Cauby Peixoto etc.
Renato Guimarães will be the next best thing. There's only one glitch: give up your shy manners that disagree with your personal style virility; this contrast denotes false modesty. Luiz Gismondi.
'Correio da Manhã', 18 March 1962.
POEMA (Fernando Dias)
Poema é a noite escura de amargura
poema é a luz que brilha lá no céu
poema é ter saudades de alguém
que a gente quer e que não vem
Poema é o cantar de um passarinho
que vive ao leu, perdeu seu ninho
é a esperança de o encontrar
poema é a solidão da madrugada
um ébrio triste na caçada querendo a lua namorar
Poema é a solidão da madrugada,
um trovador em serenata querendo a lua namorar.
Poema é tristeza, é alegria, é o romper de um novo dia,
é a dor cruel de uma paixão.
Poema é um poeta apaixonado
a escrever desesperado o que lhe vai no coração.
'Poema' was such a mega-hit that by March Renato had enough money to buy a DKW; Revista do Radio #653, 24 March 1962.
Revista do Radio #661, 19 May 1962; 'Poema' had been #1 since January in different parts of the country.
'Ausência' wasn't a bad song but it was mission impossible to follow up 'Poema'; RR #671, 28 July 1962.
Renato weds Maria de Lourdes on 15 September 1962. Revista do Radio #682, 13 October 1962.
Renato on his wedding day: from left: Alfredo Corleto (Renato's best man) & wife; Lourdes, Renato; Suely Alves and Carlos Mesquita (bride's best woman & man).
RR #732, 26 Sept 1963; Lourdes was pregnant & Renato was a happy man.
RR #749, 25 January 1964; Renato holds Claudia Renata after having flown with Missus.
78 rpm singles:
78-366 'Trono azul' Czibulka's 'Stephanie Gavotte' with Portuguese words by Palmeira & Alfredo Corletto b/w 'Tarde demais' (Fernando Dias).
3. O meu maior desejo (Toso Gomes-Renato Guimarães)
4. Leva-me p'ra longe (C.G. Fernandez)
5. P'ra lá de bom (Evaldo Gouveia-Almeida Rego)
6. Tarde demais (Fernando Dias)
1. Ninguém é de ninguém (Luiz Mergulhão-Umberto Silva-Toso Gomes)
2. Se Deus quiser (Luiz Mergulhão-Flora Mattos)
3. Nossa canção de amor (Summer love) Victor Young-Milton Beri-Bernard Arnold; v.: Salathiel Coelho
4. Lyli (Osmar Navarro)
5. Show na Cinelandia (Ze Keti-Gilson Santomauro)
6. Outra noite (Waldyr Finotti-Jorge Motta Vieira)
The crux of the matter is that Renato Guimarães was a one-hit-wonder. Even though he recorded 5 singles and an album before 'Poema' hit #1 in early 1962, Renato can still be considered a 'one-hit-wonder'. He could never follow up such a mega-hit. He had a great tenor voice but no hit. 'Ausência' was actually a good tune lavishly orchestrated by Elcio Alvarez but it never went higher than #7.
On the private side of his life Renato was unwise to have contracted so much debt when he saw the money coming in the next few months after 'Poema' hit the top. He got married in September. He bought a night club at Aeroporto, a far-away suburb where TV Record used to be. He entered a partnership to set up a clothes factory. I imagine he must have lost money in all these ventures.
The fact of the matter is that by 1964, Renato Guimarães was 'history'. He kept on recording here and there. He would be invited to TV shows but only the thread-of-the-mill sort of programme.
By 1965, he was signed by Philips to cover European hits like 'Ma vie' (O principio e o fim) which was already a hit by Agnaldo Rayol.
By 1970, he was covering the same European minor hits now at Fermata.
In 1973, Renato was back at Chantecler and recorded his last single in 1974.
According to 'Folha de S.Paulo', Renato Guimarães died on 2nd May 1979 of a heart attack.
Renascença Club was formed on 17 February 1951, at rua Pedro Carvalho in Méier-Rio de Janeiro by a group of middle class Blackmen who were barred from joining White middle-class social clubs. They created a space where they could congregate with their families, be themselves and put up a cultural resistance against racial discrimination perpetrated by the main-stream society.
In the late 1950s, Renascença moved to Rua Barão de São Francisco, 54, in the suburb of Andaraí, and entered its golden age with beauty contest competitions that spawned such stars as Dirce Machado (1959), Aizita Nascimento (1963) and finally Vera Lucia Couto dos Santos who went on to become Miss Brazil 1964 who got the 3rd place at Long Beach's International Beauty Competion in California in the Northern Hemisphere summer of 1964.
During the 1970s, Renascença promoted balls like 'Shaft's Night' in which US Black music was played and danced. They also had samba nights with Brazilian music.