GUINGA (pronounced Geen-ga) was born Carlos Althier de Souza Lemos Escobar in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on June 10, 1950. When he was 13 years old, he taught himself to play the guitar. Later, he formally studied music, including five years of classical guitar lessons with the renowned Jodacil Damasceno. Guinga began composing music when he was 16 years old and by age 17 he had already qualified one of his compositions for the Festival Internacional da Canção (International Festival of Song). By the time he became a professional musician, Guinga was already accompanying famous Brazilian artists such as Clara Nunes, Beth Carvalho, Alaíde Costa, Cartola, and João Nogueira, among others.
As Daniella Thompson wrote for Brazzil.com, "While most popular composers are usually associated with specific songs, Guinga established his reputation primarily on his unique sound. Regardless of the genre in which he works - canção, choro, frevo, waltz, bolero, samba, coco, baião, modinha, foxtrot, or jazz, vocal or instrumental - the outcome is unmistakably his. Like Kurt Weill and Nino Rota - two other composers who are instantly recognizable by their sound - Guinga straddles an indefinable line between pop and serious music. Synthesizing numerous sources, including Impressionist music, opera, older popular songs, and jazz, he distills an intoxicating brew all his own, enriched with audacious lyrics by a handful of partners past and present."
In addition to his life as a musician and composer, Guinga has been a practicing dentist since 1975. He composes constantly and his songs have been recorded by some of the most important names in Brazilian music, including Elis Regina, Michel Legrand, Sérgio Mendes, Leila Pinheiro, Chico Buarque, Clara Nunes, and Ivan Lins. He has composed songs in partnership with Paulo César Pinheiro, Aldir Blanc, and most recently, with Chico Buarque and Nei Lopes.
Guinga has received four Premio Sharp awards (the Brazilian equivalent to the Grammy) in the following categories: Best Instrumental CD (Cheio de Dedos), Best Instrumental Song ("Dá o Pé, Loro"), Best CD Production, and Best Brazilian Popular Song ("Chá de Panela"). The latter appeared on Leila Pinheiro's CD, Catavento e Girassol (EMI Odeon), which featured a repertoire consisting entirely of Guinga's compositions.
In 2000, his fourth CD, Suíte Leopoldina, was elected, unanimously, by the music critics of O Globo (Brazil's newspaper) as the best CD of Brazilian popular music; his 2001 release, Cine Baronesa, was nominated for a Latin Grammy, in the category of Best Brazilian Popular Music Album. His 2003 CD, Noturno Copacabana, was also nominated for a Grammy in the same category; 2004 saw the release of Graffiando Vento.
Guinga has toured Europe several times, with performances at the jazz festivals of Lavanga, Arezzo, Napoli, Latina, Naples, Milan, and Rome; the Festival Brasiliana and the Cafe Central in Madrid; the Festival Internacional de Guitarra in Córdoba, Spain; and the Festival Braziliana at the Jazz House in Copenhagen, Denmark. He has also appeared at Cuba Disco and the Festival Guitarras del Mundo in Argentina. In spring 2005, Guinga embarked on his first major U.S. tour with his own quartet. This tour took him to many cities across the country, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Cleveland, Miami, Atlanta, Boston, and Washington, D.C.