Chico César comes from Catolé do Rocha, Paraíba, a city of 12,000 inhabitants and the cradle of the traditional Northeastern family. It's an area where existence is hard and life expectancy is short. The 7th son of a poor, uneducated farm worker and a washer woman, Chico César's harsh early life was made softer by the kindness of an unmarried aunt who helped him get a scholarship to a school run by German nuns.
By twelve, without knowing a single musical note, he composed his first song "Quando Chega o Carnaval" (When Carnival Comes). He just kept repeating the melody until it was memorized and only later composed the lyrics, a technique that to this day remains his singular method of composition. Chico claims that his melodies bloom in every situation and that they have a lot to do with musically producing certain images.
When he was a teen he worked at a record store where everything from sertaneja to Tropicália was being played constantly. It was inevitable that Chico digested and assimilated the music of those who came before him like Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso. But he also listened to international arists such as the Jackson Five, Donna Summer, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones.
Writing comes easier for Chico than for most. He holds a degree in journalism and worked in São Paulo as a reporter, a proof reader, and a music critic. He wrote about everything from a 007 soundtrack to reviews of Edson Cordeiro. Composing his own music, however, instead of writing about other peoples', was what he really wanted. And a tour of Germany promoted by the Brazilian German Cultural Society convinced him to focus his journalistic talents on music. After returning to Brazil, he quit journalism and started to seriously cultivate his career as a musician. By participating in more festivals, by placing well, and by winning a prize for best lyricist, Chico César started to become well known.
A good part of the most famous brazilian singers like Daniela Mercury, Elba Ramalho and Zizi Possi have been busy recording and quibbling about his compositions since 1996. But his most faithful interpreter is Maria Bethânia who recorded his songs on all of her latest albums. With more than 400 finished compositions that were written over the last 20 years, but which have never been performed or recorded, he can offer singers an extensive variety of tunes.
Chicos tunes are influenced by the musical heritage of his homeland Paraíba in northeastern Brazil, but also by other musical tendencies such as samba, funk, reggae, jazz and afro-pop. Chico César is an eccentric performer who knows how to tighten up his audience with his vibrant rhythms and emotional ballads.
Since 1997 Chico César has been touring intensely outside Brazil almost every year, mainly in Europe and the USA – altogether he did more than 250 concerts. Among the venues are festivals like Roskilde (Denmark), Pirineos Sur (Spain), Montreux Jazz Festival (Switzerland), WOMAD (Reading, Eden Session, Cáceres, Adelaide and New Plymouth New Zealand) and Jazz & Heritage Festival New Orleans (USA). He has been front page of several magazines as “Rhythm Magazine”(USA), “Oye-Listen” (Netherlands), “Latina” (Japan), “Folker” and “Jazzthetik” (Germany).
As a result of this trips, he got in contact with many international artists and joined them in special projects. He composed songs with Lokua Kanza and Ray Lema (both from the Republic of Congo), recorded with Pedro Guerra (Spain) and Da Lata (UK) and was recorded by artists such as Pedro Aznar (Argentina), Né Ladeiras (Portugal) and Sting whose English version of the song “Soberana Rosa” entitled “She walks This Earth”, a song written by Chico together with Ivan Lins and Vitor Martins, won a Grammy in the category Best Male Pop Song in 2001.
In 2015, Chico César released his 8th studio album "Estado de Poesia" ("Sate of Poetry"). The album received widespread critical acclaim and was following in 2017 by the release of a live recording and DVD.