Zeca Pagodinho, named Jessé Gomes da Silva Filho, was born in Irajá, on the suburbs of Rio de Janeiro, on February 4, 1959 and raised in Del Castilho, also on the outskirts of the city.
Son to ‘Seu Jessé’ and ‘Dona Irinéa’ the fourth child in a family of five, Zeca used to skip school since an early age to join a good samba. That’s why he didn’t go back to school after 4th grade.
In the 1970’s, partido-alto, a type of samba, was a fever in the suburbs of Rio. And in between sambas, Zeca made a living as he could. He worked as a street market vendor, as a street vendor, as an office-boy, and as a bookie. He’s done it all. Valuable friendships sprang from this time: Sérvula, Dorina, Paulão Sete Cordas, Monarco, Mauro Diniz, Almir Guineto, Bira Presidente, Beto Sem Braço and Arlindo Cruz. Zeca also used to go to the sambas at Cacique de Ramos.
In the early 1980’s, Pagodinho starts to establish himself as a respected song writer. In partnership with the flutist, Cláudio Camunguelo, who was also an admirer of the partido-alto style, he had his first song recorded: „Amargura“. The tune was part of the repertoire of the second album of the group Fundo de Quintal, founded in 1977 and with its origins in the Cacique de Ramos. The relationship with the group led Zeca Pagodinho closer to Beth Carvalho. It was her who recorded his first hit: “Camarão que Dorme a Onda Leva“, a song that had a video clip shown at Fantástico, a Brazilian TV show aired every Sunday evening. The godmother also recorded „Jiló com Pimenta“ (Arlindo Cruz and Zeca). After that it was Alcione’s turn to register „Mutirão do Amor“ (Zeca, Sombrinha and Jorge Aragão) in the LP „Almas e Corações“, from 1983.
The rhythm known as pagode was then getting ready to become a huge success in Brazil. RGE released a collection called „Raça Brasileira“ (1985). „Mal de Amor“, „Garrafeiro“, „A Vaca“ and „Bagaço da Laranja“ were amog Zeca’s songs. More than 100 thousand copies were sold.
In the following year, the sambista had his debut with the solo album „Zeca Pagodinho”. The songs „Coração em Desalinho“, „Quando Eu Contar (IáIá)“, „Judia de Mim“ and „Brincadeira tem Hora” were the big hits, reaching the landmark of one million copies sold.
It was with RGE that Zeca recorded „Patota do Cosme“ (1987). After that he signed with RCA (Sony-BMG), next to Beth Carvalho, Paulinho da Viola and Martinho da Vila.
At his new home, he recorded „Jeito Moleque“ (1988), „Boêmio Feliz“ (1989), „Mania da Gente“ (1990), „Pixote“ (1991), „Um dos Poetas do Samba“ (1992) and „Alô, Mundo!“ (1993).
In 1995 he signed with Universal, where he recorded „Samba Pras Moças“ (1995) which has in its repertoire sambas like, „Vou Botar teu Nome na Macumba“ (in partnership with Dudu Nobre) and „Guiomar“ (by Nei Lopes). The next album, “Deixa Clarear“ (1996) would bring some of the major hits of his career, such as “Verdade“, “Conflito“, „Não Sou Mais Disso“ and „Jiló com Pimenta“.
The songs „Hoje É Dia de Festa“ (1997), „Zeca Pagodinho“ (1998), „Zeca Pagodinho Ao Vivo“ (1999), „Água da Minha Sede“ (2000) and „Deixa a Vida Me Levar“ (2002) also came along and established the artist as one of the great names of the Brazilian music.
The title song becomes the theme of the World Cup and the Album wins the “Best Samba Album” award in the 2002 Grammy.
The album “Acústico MTV Zeca Pagodinho“ (CD and DVD), released in 2003, was an instant success. In 2005 Zeca Pagodinho released “À Vera” and in 2006 he once again partnered with MTV. The TV channel exceptionally chose to repeat the acoustic project with the same artist, with the “Acústico MTV 2: Gafieira – Zeca Pagodinho”.
In 2008 “Uma Prova de Amor” was released with 16 tracks, 13 new releases and 3 re-recordings. The album, produced by Rildo Hora, had João Donato as a special guest singer in „Sambou, Sambou“, a rereading of a song by the pianist; Jorge Ben Jor with the exciting “Ogum”, a song in which he recites the prayer of Saint George, and the Velha Guarda da Portela, the eldest members of one of the most traditional samba schools of Rio de Janeiro, a longstanding partnership of Zeca’s, in a pot-pourri that joins sambas like „Falsa Jura“, „Pecadora“ and „Manhã Brasileira“.
In 2010 Zeca Pagodinho releases his 22nd CD, “Vida da Minha Vida“, dedicated to his godmother Beth Carvalho. Produced by Rildo Hora, the CD brings 15 tracks, including new releases, rerecording of classics by Gilson de Souza, Nelson Sargento, Monarco, Dona Ivone Lara and Fagner, in addition to new releases by Nelson Rufino, Zé Roberto and a partnership between Zeca and Arlindo Cruz.
Zeca re-edited “O Quintal do Pagodinho”, an album recorded live in his farm in Xerém. In this Project, some of his favorite song writers, like Sombrinha, Zé Roberto,Toninho Geraes, Almir Guineto, Serginho Meriti, Dudu Nobre, Jorge Aragão, Monarco, Mauro Diniz and Juliana Diniz, among others, recorded their own hits.
The celebrations for a 30-year career started. Pagodinho releases “Zeca Pagodinho Multishow Ao Vivo: 30 anos, Vida que Segue”, an album in which he sings songs that tell stories close to his heart.
Songs like “Trem das Onze” (Adoniran Barbosa), “Diz Que Fui Por Aí” (Zé Keti and Hortênsio Rocha), “O Sol Nascerá” (Cartola e Elton Medeiros), “Mascarada” (Zé Keti and Elton Medeiros), “Aquarela Brasileira” (Silas de Oliveira) in beautiful arrangements and special guest singers Zé Menezes, Paulinho da Viola, Marisa Monte, Yamandú Costa, Hamilton de Holanda, Mauro Diniz, Rildo Hora, among others.
In 2014, the multimedia project „Sambabook Zeca Pagodinho“, in which artists such as Alcione, Arlindo Cruz, Diogo Nogueira, Gilberto Gil, Jorge Aragão, Lenine, Maria Rita, Amir Guineto, Beth Carvalho, Djavan, Marcelo D2, Jorge Ben Jor, Mariene de Castro, Monarco and the Velha Guarda da Portela, among others, sing songs written by the sambista.
The Sambabook includes, in addition to a CD and DVD, a book with the discography of the singer and sheet music.
After five years without new releases, Zeca releases his 23rd album in April 2015, named “Ser Humano”. With songs by Monarco, Amir Guineto, Nelson Rufino, among other composers, the Project comes with 14 tracks.
In 2016, Universal Music Brazil released the third edition of project “Quintal do Pagodinho” (which can be roughly translated as „Pagodinho’s Backyard”) in CD and DVD formats. In his backyard, in a farm house he has in Xerém, once again Zeca celebrated the best of samba by bringing together his team os composers and welcoming guests like Maria Bethânia, Paulinho da Viola, João Bosco and other great names of Brazilian music.
At the end of 2016, Zeca hit the road with his show “Ser Humano”. He went on an international tour including USA end several European countries like Portugal, England, Germany and Holland.
In 2017, he has renewed his contract with Universal Music and has kicked off the project – “Samba do Zeca”- an informal samba gathering/show, with special guests, held once in Jockey Club, in Rio de Janeiro.
In 2018, Zeca reunited with Maria Bethânia, onde of the most important Brazilian singer to a national tour called “De Santo Amaro a Xerém” that was recorded and will be release as a DVD.