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Ney Matogrosso: Get to know the 82 year old legend that made his name at The Town

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Casper Libero chapter.

The second day of The Town had people impressed by 82-year-old Ney Matogrosso’s concert. The singer put on a show that revealed why, after so many years, he’s still seen as one of Brazil’s most iconic artists. But how much do you know about him? Here are some facts to know the singer who revolutionized music in Brazil and is able to impress to this day.

His story

Born in 1941, at Bela Vista, Mato Grosso do Sul, Ney de Souza Pereira had a lonely childhood, he used to feel left out and like he was different from other boys. At 18 years old, he was unsure about what to do with his life. By that time, he came out as gay and decided to join the Navy. He liked to study and read about theater and music from an early age and had performed at some bars, that lead him to give up on the idea and, then, went to live with his cousin in Brasília. In 1966, Ney moved to Rio de Janeiro and, later on, to São Paulo, where he met João Ricardo, who invited him to join “Secos e Molhados”.

He added “Matogrosso” to his artistic name in 1971, as a reference to his state of origin (and it’s also part of his dad’s name). With “Secos e Molhados”, he released two albuns, selling more than a million copies. The group ended in 1974 and Ney carried on with his solo carrer, launching his first álbum “Água do Céu – Pássaro” in 1975.

From then on, Matogrosso released more than 20 albuns, including new songs, rerecordings and his own interpretations of other singer’s music (for example, the album “Ney Matogrosso Interpreta Cartola”). Throughout his career, the singer worked with some of the greatest and most iconic artists from the 70s, 80s and 90s, such as Rita Lee and Roberto de Carvalho, Gilberto Gil, Chico Buarque and many others. In Brazil, some of his versions of songs even made it as theme songs for soap operas, like Bandido Corazón, Vereda Tropical and Vida Vida.

How he transformed the music scenario

Undaunted to be true to himself and live life in his own way, he was (and still is) seen as controversial by some, but revolutionary by many. Making music and performing during the Military Dictatorship in Brazil was challenging, but he never let that stop him. His style rose questions about sexuality, identity and acceptance in a time when people weren’t really allowed to talk about it so openly.

Since the beginning of his career, he was unafraid to go for bold make-up looks, peculiar costumes and sensual and unconventional coreographies, all following his high-pitched voice. In interview with Vogue, he recently stated that the makeup from “Secos e Molhados” gave him the courage he didn’t know he had to confront the dictartoship: “I walked on stage angry, demanding the right to express myself freely.” Matogrosso dared and subverted gender roles and was one of the first artists presenting an androgynous style in the arts, mixing masculine and feminine characteristics in his performances.        

His form of expression, talking not only through his voice, but using his whole body as a way of expressing his ideas, has inspired generations to always be true to themselves and to work, love and live freely.

Remarkable performances

Rock in Rio, 1985

The performer opened up the first ever day of Rock in Rio, in 1985. This was the first edition of the festival and a very significant one to brazilian people, given that the Military Dictatorship was about to end. On that same day, the line up followed Erasmo Carlos, Baby do Brasil and Pepeu Gomes, Whitesnake, Iron Maiden and Queen. You can probably think that it was weird putting Ney Matogrosso alongside heavy metal bands and according to him, it really was:  

The Town, 2023

More recently, he did a show at The Town, in São Pulo. Matogrosso made a presentation at the stage “The One” and impressed the crowd with his energy and enthusiasm. The artist performed songs by Rita Lee, Paralamas do Sucesso, Raul Seixas and more, finishing off with “Homem comH”.

New projects

Matogrosso has been doing a tour of his latest album, “Bloco na Rua” (2019), which had been interrupted due to the pandemic. He has also been announced as a guest on Pitty’s new Project, “Admirável Chip Novo (Re)ativado”.

Songs you need to know

João Ricardo and Paulinho Mendonça – with Secos e Molhados
Paulo Machado
Antonio Barros
Roberto Frejat and Cazuza
Rita Lee and Roberto de Carvalho

The article above was edited by Giulia Howard. Liked this type of content? Check out Her Campus Casper Libero for more!

Olivia Nogueira

Casper Libero '26

Brazilian journalism student who loves to talk about music, books, TV shows and Formula One.