The resurgence in popularity of Brazilian samba that commenced during the 2000s owed a great deal to musician Seu Jorge, a native of Rio de Janeiro who enjoyed international crossover acclaim thanks to his genial presence on the soundtracks of such films as Fernando Meirelles' City of God (2002) and Wes Anderson's The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004). Born Jorge Mario da Silva in 1970, he grew up in an environment characterized by violence and abject poverty, but worked varied and sundry jobs and escaped from the confines of his surroundings sheerly via raw musical ability and intuition. A year of forced service in the Brazilian army -- where he played the cornet in a military ban -- provided the young man with his first formal introduction to music. The real turning point for da Silva, however, arrived at the 1991 funeral for his brother, who had been gunned down at age 16 by Rio policemen. At that ceremony, da Silva met Gabriel Moura, nephew of celebrated Brazilian sax player Paolo Maura, who suggested music as a prospective career for the 21 year old and offered to set him up with some aspiring musicians interested in forming a band. Taking this as a cue, da Silva spent much of 1991-1993 teaching himself guitar, and in 1993 landed a paid, ongoing gig as an actor and musician with the Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro's performance troupe Tuerj. That job sustained him for three years, and in 1996 da Silva left to head up Farofa Carioca, a Brazilian pop band under contract to one of the country's most prominent and esteemed record labels.
Unfortunately, Farofa never really scored a commercial smash, but the experience did thrust da Silva into the limelight, who promptly took Seu Jorge as a stage name, and left the outfit in 1999 to record a sophomore American release under the aegis of Mario Caldato, producer for the Beastie Boys. As indicated, however, Jorge scored his broadest crossover appeal thanks to his involvement in movies; the role of juvenile delinquent Knockout Ned, in the Meirelles film, brought him a massive amount of attention, as did his portrayal in Steve Zissou of Pele dos Santos, a mariner with a flair for voicing David Bowie songs in Portuguese. The cinematic appearances had an expected residual effect by boosting Jorge's recording career; in addition to recording successive albums, he tackled another dramatic role in the 2008 adventure film The Escapist, co-directed by the Wyatt brothers and starring Brian Cox. The film cast Jorge as a drug dealer recruited to assist in a prison escape. ~ Nathan Southern, Rovi