In her native Brazil, Rosa Passos is known and loved as "the female version of João Gilberto." For a singer/songwriter who carries the soulful cool of bossa nova into a new age, there can be no higher cumpliment. Mingling the classics of Gilberto, Jobim, Barroso and other masters of Brazilian songs with her own enchanting works, Passos sings in a sweet, warm, totally-in-tune voice that the Los Angeles Times has hailed as "sounding a bit like the legendary Elis Regina but with the rhythmic articulation of Ella Fitzgerald."
Rosa Passos was Born and raised surrounded by music in the city of Salvador, the capital of the state of Bahia in Brazil and the heart of Afro-Brazilian culture.
Stimulated by her parents, Rosa was already a promising pianist when she was five. As a teenager her father introduced her to a collection of early recordings from João Gilberto and Tom Jobim. Inspired by the movie 'Black Orpheus' (1959) and its soundtrack, she replaced the piano with the guitar, and since then she has been completely dedicated to her art of composing and singing. When she was 15, she had already appeared successfully on television in Salvador.
You will see the resemblance to João Gilberto, in fact, his music was a strong influence on her early years and made a lasting impression.
In 1972 her composition "Mutilados" won the first prize in the University Festival promoted by Aratu TV in the state of Bahia.
In 1979 Passos released her first record - the “Recriação” album, containing her own compositions with the co-composer Fernando de Oliveira, who has been her constant partner.
After taking several years off to devote herself to her husband and children, she returned to performing and recording in 1985, jump-starting a career that has been on the upswing ever since.
In 1991, Rosa released her first CD “Curare” - a refined record consisting of Brazilian Popular Music standards by Tom Jobim, Ary Barroso, Carlos Lyra, Johnny Alf, Bororó , Vinícius de Moraes and others.
In 1996 she released the “Pano Pra Manga” CD, with most songs composed by Fernando and her . Rosa's compositions have also attracted the interest of the American singer Kenny Rankin, who in 1997 recorded the songs "Verão" (Those Eyes) and "Outono" (Stay), both of them with the vocal participation of Rosa Passos.
In September of 1996 Oscar Castro-Neves - a renowned Brazilian musician living in the United States - invited Rosa to participate in a Brazilian night of Jazz at the Bowl, held at the Hollywood Bowl. Since her american debut, Rosa Passos has developed an ever growing international following.
Also in 1996, the singer/songwriter performed in Japan for the first time with saxophonist Sadao Watanabe which led her to successful appearances in Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Norway and Sweden, as well as Colombia, Cuba, Uruguay and the U.S. In the years since, Passos has toured Japan five times, collaborated with Ivan Lins and Chucho Valdez in a memorable Cubadisco show in Havana.
In 1999, she was invited to perform during the 50th anniversary celebration of German Democracy, joining Paquito D’Rivera and the WDR Big Band for shows in Bonn and Cologne that featured her own songs and classic brazilian tunes. The same year she performed at the Jazz Festival Bern.
In Brazil, where she has built an impressive catalog of recordings, Rosa Passos has been one of the stars of producer Almir Chediak’s “Words and Melody” project, a series of recordings honoring the legacies of the great brazilian songwriters. Her discs of the songs of Tom Jobim and Ary Barroso were instant hits, in Brazil and internationally, featuring unique and innovative versions of such worldwide hits as Ary Barroso’s “Aquarela do Brasil” and Jobim’s “Desafinado”, “Samba de uma nota só” (One Note Samba) and “Garota de Ipanema”(The Girl from Ipanema).
In August 2001 Passos performed in New Orleans (voice and guitar), from which arose an invitation to record a new cd, “Me and My Heart”, released in America in 2002, with the participation of bass player Paulo Paulelli.
In 2002, the “Azul” CD was released in Brazil , gathering her favorite songs by Gilberto Gil, João Bosco, and Djavan with special arrangements. In the same year she wowed a packed crowd at New York’s Lincoln Center for a “Tribute to Elis Regina” show.
Closing the year 2002, Rosa Passos returned to the United States to record with Ron Carter, one of the dominant bassists in jazz for over 40 years, her first CD with American-based jazz musicians entitled “Entre Amigos” (Among Friends).
Her 2003 schedule includes three presentations in Russia, one with the Moscow Chamber Orchestra. This year Rosa Passos will also tour throughout the United States with the pianist Cesar Camargo Mariano.
Also in 2003, Rosa Passos joined the double-Grammy-winning “Obrigado Brazil” by famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma , with two songs by Tom Jobim ("Chega de Saudade" and "Amor em Paz"). Following the release of “Obrigado Brazil” , the singer/songwriter joined YoYo Ma and the other musicians from the record on a critically acclaimed world tour leading to its sequel in 2004 “Yo-Yo Ma Obrigado Brazil Live in Concert” with Jazz clarinetist Paquito D’Rivera and percussionist Cyro Baptista.
"Perhaps best of all, singer/guitarist Rosa Passos’ sweet-voiced renderings of Jobim were marvelous updatings of classic bossa nova, superbly demonstrating the subtle interplay between the voice and guitar this is the foundation of this enduringly appealing genre," the Los Angeles Times wrote, when the Obrigado Brazil tour played the Hollywood Bowl.
In 2004 Rosa Passos makes her Sony Classical solo debut with her album “Amorosa”, a heartfelt tribute to the legendary Joao Gilberto and his landmark 1977 album entitled “Amorosa”. Passos’ special guest is the french musician and bossa nova singer Henri Salvador, besides the musicians of “Obrigado Brazil” . To follow the album’s release Rosa and her fantastic brazilian jazz band that features Paulo Paulelli on five string upright bass, were engaged in an international and successful tour.
With “Obrigado Brazil” and “Amorosa” Rosa gets her first significant promotion in America. It even inspired Diana Krall to include two of its songs on her album ‘The look of Love’.
In 2006 , back from the international tour, Rosa was approached by Telarc to release her first CD solo (voice/guitar) entitled simply "Rosa" and invited to perform for the first time alone in the stage of Zanken Hall - at Carnegie Hall NYC, a dream predicted by her own father, followed by several performances in jazz festivals throughout Europe in the summer.
“As much as I enjoyed Amorosa, Passos' CD simply titled ‘Rosa’ (Telarc), with just her own guitar backing, is so intimate it sounds like she's singing to you only. Again, her voice is warm and the atmosphere is thick with intimacy” said Don Albert of FinancialMail.com in South Africa.
After that , Rosa comes back to Brazil to perform again in her own country in the event of “Rosa” release that includes a sold out 2-weeks tour in January of 2007 at Fecap Theater - São Paulo.
Rosa is working through her next concerts and has a scheduled DVD recording expected to happen in september/2007 together with Jazz Symphonic Orchestra in São Paulo . The DVD is a tribute to the great Diva of Brazil 'Elis Regina' who happens to be the inspiration for Rosa herself.
"Nobody plays bossa nova like Rosa Passos since the master João Gilberto," El País proclaimed. All About Jazz wrote of Passos, "She has done what so many vocalists have attempted since the days of Astrud Gilberto, but failed to do: she’s made the bossa nova sexy again ... Her voice, which is at once exotic and strangely familiar, is magnificent. Her interpretations of various bossa nova chestnuts are sublime. She takes these over-familiar songs and makes them sound brand new again."