REGARDED AS ONE OF BRAZIL\'S GREATEST VOCAL TALENTS OF BRAZIL, Barbara Mendes was raised in Rio de Janeiro, the general headquarter of Brazilian Popular Music and Bossa Nova. Her first notes were sung with her mother, singer Marisa Rossi, first prize winner at the "Grande Chance" on the Flávio Cavalcanti show in the 60's.
Barbara's passion for music developed at a very early age as she grew up listening to her mother sing beautiful brazilian songs. Artists such as Elis Regina, Ivan Lins, Clara Nunes, Djavan, Tom Jobim, Milton Nascimento, Cartola, Noel Rosa and Pixinguinha were always a part of her daily life, as the sound of their music records filled the rooms of her home. With her italian grandfather, who had been an opera singer in Italy before immigrating to Brazil, she practiced her first vocal lessons.
At the age of 17, she fell in love with Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Jaco Pastorius, Sarah Vaughan, Ella, Nina Simone and other giants of the Jazz movement.
Her singing was interrupted to attend Law School from 1991 thru 1996./
IN 1996 SHE ARRIVED IN NEW YORK CITY to develop her singing skills, going to The New School for Social Research. Two years later, she began her discovery of Gospel techniques with Ellayssandra London, a gospel singer from Harlem, who above all, taught her " how to express her voice through her soul". Her continued vocal instruction came from Pat Holley, who coached her for many years after.
In 1997 she joins Brazooca Band formed by local brazilian musicians singing weekly at the well known Club Café Wha in the West Village where known artists as Janis Joplin, Jimmy Hendrix and Bob Dylan started their carrers.
Her first major gig in NY was the Tribute to Elis Regina at the Town Hall - NYC, performing alongside Bebel Gilberto, Nana Caymmi, Paulo Braga and Luizão Maia.
In August of 1998, Barbara was the only Brazilian singer invited to perform at the Ocean Blue Jazz Festival (ex-Mount Fuji), in Japan. Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Tito Puente, Kenny Burrell and Milt Jackson were also on the program roster. Meanwhile, she performed and recorded with different artists in NYC always bringing her brazilian flavor as a distinguishing aspect of her unique style.
In May of 1999, she made the finals of the most important vocal contest in São Paulo/Brazil - Prêmio Visa, getting great reviews from the biggest Brazilian newspaper music critics:
"Barbara Mendes has a very strong personality on stage and great charisma. She hypnotizes the audience.\ (Mauro Dias - Estado de São Paulo)
"Barbara touches the audience with her strong and beautiful voice. She has her own special style and knows what to reach for." (Marcos Fillipi - Jornal da Tarde/SP).
In June of the same year, she recorded the Soundtrack of the movie Bossa Nova, directed by the brazilian director Bruno Barreto and scored by Grammy Award Winner, producer, arranger, and composer Eumir Deodato. She recorded “Useless Landscape” by Tom Jobim and Aloysio Oliveira on a beautiful duet with Deodato on piano that was the opening track for the movie. She also sang “One Note Samba” and “Once I Loved” both by Jobim. The soundtrack was released by Verve in 2000.
In March 2000, Barbara embarked on her first tour to Greece performing at the Half Note Jazz Club in Athens and Mylos Club in Tessaloniki. At the end of the year she retured to Half Note Jazz Club performing Sold Out shows and recording her first Live CD, "Live in Greece" with independent release. She was back in 2002 for the release of the CD in Athens at the Half Note.
Recommended by Eumir Deodato, started working with the DJ and Producer François Kevorkian ( François K.), one of the biggest names in the Dance/House Music world. He worked with Diana Ross, U2, Kraftwerk, B52\'s, and Gloria Stephan - to name a few. He was also one of the founders of the Body and Soul party in NYC. With DJ Francois, Barbara recorded the Remix of "Me Vacancies a Rio" by Rhinocerose released by V2, a project that solidified the beginning of a great musical relationship.
In 2001, Barbara Mendes, François K. and Terry Burrus co-wrote the track "Awakening" released by Yellow Production at the compilation Bossa Très Jazz (Step into the Gallery).
She toured all over Europe, USA and Japan promoting the single during 2002 and 2003.
Back in NY she performed at the Merchant & Ivory Foundation - "East meets West" with Zakir Hussein and recording a soundtrack for the Indian movie SNIP by Sun Hill Sippy scored by Ashutosh Phatak and Dhruv Ghanekar, released by Universal in India.Her voice was present in the US musical scene, working and recording with artists such as Randy Brecker, John Lee, Don Braden, Eumir Deodato, François K., Dominique Dalcan, Anne Pollack, Clive Stevens, and Francis Mbappe.
In Rio de Janeiro, she performed at The Free Jazz Music festival with the Guto Goffi band.
In 2004 e 2005, the new single "Got to be In Love", produced by François K. and Eric Kupper was released by Wave Music becoming a hit in Europe.
At the Kennedy Center - Washington, she performed with the pianist and arranger Cliff Korman and the Gafieira Dance Club Band at the Millenium Stage. In NYC she performed with Cliff Korman and the brazilian saxophone player Paulo Moura for the Brazilian Foundation. Having Gilberto Gil as a special guest.
She performed at the Sanary Festival in Sanary Sur Mer in France with Pagode Jazz sardinha’s Club along with Milton Nascimento, Lenine, Daniela Mercury just to name a few.
You can also hear Barbara at the movie BE COOL singing the track “Praia de Genipabu”. Also was part of the Ballet act “PILOBOLUS”, recording and performing in NYC with the ballet company.
She started working with french pianist/producer Alain Mallet on a record that features her original music. The Cd is entitled “Barbara Mendes”It was recorded mostly in Rio and performed by brazilian musicians such as: Marcos Suzano, Bernardo Bosisio, Lula Galvão, Paulo Braga, Sergio Brandão, Eduardo Neves, Rodrigo Lessa, just to name a few.The record is being negotiated. Release date TBA.
In 2006, she toured in Brazil, Russia and Portugal.In November 2006, she toured around Greece releasing her independent record “Barbara Mendes”
Barbara is preparing for the release of her new record "Nada pra Depois" ( trilhos artes)produced by Mauricio Oliveira and Andre Vasconcellos.
The record has DJAVAN, IVAN LINS and HAMILTON de HOLANDA as very special guests.