Sylvia Telles was born on August 27, 1943. She would go on to be one of the most important figure in bossa nova of her time but her first love was not music.  While still a teenager Telles had aspirations of becoming a ballet dancer but when she took up theater classes she was convinced that her talents were better suited for the musical world. Her ballet ambitions were not too far off the mark however as she would leave a greater mark on audiences as a live performer than as a recording artist.

Like fellow bossa nova songstress, Sylvia dated bossa nova founding father Joao Gilberto but their relationship was to be a short one. Fortunately her musical relationship with composer Garoto, who she met the same year, was longer lasting. It was Garoto who would invite her to perform in his show “Gente de Bem e champonchata.” She performed a duet with future husband Candinho, which was very well received and afforded them the opportunity to co-host a television programme “Música e Romance” which would increase her visibility to the Brazilian public.  Just a year later she would record her first album “Amor de Gente Moca: Musicas de Antonio Carlos Jobim” in which she performed songs from Jobim’s growing songbook.

Away from the limelight of television and live performance she and Nara Leão, another female force in bossa nova, were a part of a series of important musical sessions. Located in the apartment of Leão, these sessions were attended by many of the upcoming talents of bossa nova. These events served as a social gathering, exchange of ideas and an opportunity for experimentation.

In the late 1950s Sylvia would continue to impress in the realm of liver performance by participating in two of the biggest shows in the development of bossa nova. One was, “I Festival de Samba Session” and the other Hebrew Group University.  Years later she performed at another important bossa nova show “O remédio é bossa.” Shortly after she was involved in a car accident and had to be hospitalized multiple times. Though she survived this incedent she was not so fortunate two years later and died in another car accident. Despite being 32 at the time of her death her impact on bossa nova has assured that her influence will live on,  not least through her daughter Claudia Telles, who has enjoyed a successful career in music.

Sylvia Telles