Newton Medonca’s great influence and disproportionately small amount of recognition make him the greatest unsung hero of Bossa Nova

The influence that a musician has on a genre is usually established over a course of decades and several records. Writer and composer, Newton Mendonca managed to make significant contributions to bossa nova despite only having a relatively minuscule amount of his original material being released. The soft spoken, self-taught musician has gone largely unnoticed by listeners and musicians in bossa nova.

At the young age of 15 he had his first encounter with Antonio Carlos Jobim and it would prove to be a fateful meeting. The two would soon become inseparable, often writing and composing music together in a style that was spontaneous and in which their youthful creativity could flourish. It is said that both would occupy the space on the bench behind the piano and would spend hours creating melodies and debating creative decisions.

This duo would go on to produce three of the most popular and important songs in the history of bossa nova and Brazilian music, “Desafinado” (off key), “Meditação” (Meditation) and “Samba de uma nota só” (One Note Samba). All three would go on to become standards for both Jazz and bossa nova and have been covered by a plethora of modern artists.

On November 22, 1960, Netwon Mendonca passed away. Though his life ended at the young age of 33, his legacy has survived in the form of his popular compositions and lyrics that are celebrated and performed regularly throughout the world.