IVAN LINS was born in 1945, and finished his studies at Cambridge, Massachusetts, getting a degree in chemistry. Self-taught in music, Lins reached his first success toward the end of the '60s, with works of an unmistakably romantic taste, made even more vivid by a rhythmic swing inherited from the traditional samba. "Madalena" (launched by Elis Regina), "O Amor é o Meu País" (used for a long time as the boarding music by the national Brazilian airline company, Varig), and "Dinorah" (presented by George Benson in the best-selling recording Give Me the Night) were among Lins' early hits. A composer of delicious harmonic complexity and fascinating sense of rhythm, Lins has also made himself known in Brazil and abroad, for the soundtracks he composed for many Brazilian films and soap operas.
Lins developed in the creative ferment of the '60s, when the wind of American and English pop music blew strong in Brazil. Among his heroes were Frank Sinatra and Pat Boone, even if, as he declared some years ago, "when I started my idol was David Clayton-Thomas of Blood, Sweat and Tears... and I sang with the hoarse voice to imitate him."
He founded his own group, the Piramidal Quartet, with Aldir Blanc on drums, Cesárius Alvim on bass, and Luis Cachaça on flute. They played instrumental themes and occasionally performed at the Jovem Theater of Rio. Here Ivan was noticed by the vocalist Nara Leão, who realized that his destiny was tied to composition. But he carried on playing music as a hobby, because in the daytime he worked as a pharmacist. At the beginning of the '70s came the success of "O Amor é o Meu País" (The Love is My Country) and the beginning of his association with lyricist Ronaldo Monteiro de Souza.
For Lins - who in the meantime had founded the University Artistic Movement, with colleagues Aldir Blanc and Gonzaquinha - it was a golden moment. Interviews and television appearances multiplied, and the introverted boy became a star. Starting from the bossa nova, he created attractive pop melodies enjoyable at different levels.
In 1973 came a turn. An album with the autobiographical title Quem Sou Eu? (Who Am I?) cleaned up the image the media had put on him. A year later came the most important meeting of his artistic life, with lyricist Vítor Martins, who with Lins would write some of the most beautiful Brazilian songs of the last 30 years, such as "Abre Alas" (Corridors),"Somos Todos Iguais Nesta Noite" (We Are All Alike Tonight), "Novo Tempo" (New Time), "Começar de Novo" (Begin Again), "Dinorah," and "Desesperar Jamais" (Never Despair). They have become standards of Brazilian popular music and of international pop music. Lins also grew as a performer during these years.
Many artists the world over have interpreted songs by Lins: Ella Fitzgerald, Quincy Jones, Sarah Vaughan, Chucho Valdés, Betty Carter, Nancy Wilson, Kenny Burrell, Toots Thielemans, Manhattan Transfer, and George Benson, to name only some of them. In 2000 a tribute album was released, A Love Affair - The Music of Ivan Lins (Telarc). It won the 2001 Grammy for Best Male Pop Vocal for the song "She Walks this Earth" (Soberana Rosa) interpreted by Sting.
Ivan Lins has appeared several times at the Hollywood Bowl; in 2002 he headlined The Beat of Brazil! on KCRW's World Festival, and in 2005 he participated in A Celebration of Jobim on the jazz series.