Paula Santoro was born in Minas Gerais (Belo Horizonte), the land of legendary Brazilian composers Milton Nascimento and Ary Barroso. From an early age Paula started singing in family reunions, encouraged by her violin-player grandfather, from whom she inherited her love of music.
Paula Santoro started her career in Minas Gerais in 1989, as part of a local vocal group- Nós & Voz, and was spotted by violinist Marcus Viana, leader of Sagrado Coração da Terra, a reputable progressive rock band.
In 1998 Paula Santoro moved to Rio de Janeiro. She was invited to take part in the Brahma Brasil Festival in France, one of the highlights of the World Cup events. She performed for thousands on her own, and shared the same stage with the great Gilberto Gil.
In 2000 Paula Santoro was part of the pioneering project Novo Canto (New Singers), which gives incentive to young and talented artists in Brazil. She performed with amongst others, Elza Soares and Chico César in one of Rio’s best and most traditional music halls – Canecão.
The year 2000 saw the crowning of Paula’s performing career, when her work as the voice of the actress Maria Fernanda Cândido, star of Aquarela do Brasil, one of TV Globo’s leading soap-operas then, was seen by millions the country over. Paula featured on every major Brazilian magazines, and was a guest in the most important Brazilian television chat-shows.
At the height of her professional maturity, in 2002 Paula Santoro sent her work to be considered by the panel of judges of the respected Visa Music Award (equivalent to the Brit Awards), which that year attracted more than 2.000 candidates from all over the country. Paula was the only female singer among three finalists. Paula Santoro’s career since then has been in a new footing in Brazil, and is on its way to international recognition.
In May 2003 Paula left Brazil for her first solo tour of Europe. She performed to an enthusiastic and receptive audience in Luxembourg, Germany and England. Her London appearance at Momo’s Kemia Bar, prompetd an invitation for her to return for a performance at the Forum in November, as part of the Brazilian Contemporary Arts project- Forever Samba, where she performed with 2003 Grammy winner, Alcione.
Paula Santoro’s appearance at London’s Forum in November 2003 attracted a lot of media interest. Paula performed live at Britain’s top television music program - Later with Jools Holland (BBCTV 2), at Late Junction (BBC Radio 3) and at BBC Radio London. She had a very positive preview in Time Out, and just as positive a review in the Evening Standard. Paula recorded seven tracks in a tribute to Tom Jobim (voice and instrumental), which was released in the UK by Union Square Music in 2004.
In November 2005, Paula Santoro launched her album by Biscoito Fino in Brazil, Argentina and Japan. It has special guests like: Chico Buarque, Toninho Horta and Jaques Morelenbaum and was produced by Rodolfo Stroeter and Rafael Vernet.
In 2006/2007, Paula was nominated for Best Singer at Rival Petrobrás Music Award and travelled around Brazil and Europe launching her new album “Paula Santoro”. The concerts at “Tudo é Jazz” - one of the most important jazz festivals of Brazil - in Ouro Preto, and at Projeto Pixinguinha with the samba icone Wilson das Neves were a huge success. Even the renamed Nélson Motta invited her to participate of his project “Sintonia Fina”. In Europe, she performed at important jazz clubs and cultural centers like Jazzkeller (Frankfurt), Gasteig (Munich) and Guanabara (London) among others. Besides that, Paula and Guinga travelled around Brazil and Italy launching his album “Casa de Villa” in which Paula recorded as a special guest.
In 2008, Paula has performed at Brazil’s top television music program - Som Brasil (Globo TV) - a tribute to Ivan Lins with his participation. In 2009, she continued to tour around Brazil with her band and is beginning her new project to be recorded in 2010.
Throughout her career, Paula has had a main role both as a singer and as an actress in such Brazilian musicals as: Manoel, o Audaz (Manoel the Daring)– whose score was especially written by the world famous guitarist Toninho Horta; Mulheres de Hollanda, based on the works of singer/song-writer Chico Buarque de Hollanda; Aldir Blanc, Um Cara Bacana (Aldir Blanc, a Nice Guy).
About Paula Santoro
"I am very happy for having participated in Paula Santoro’s CD, which in my view is one of the great new Brazilian Popular Music (MPB) artists, in addition to being one of the best singers in Brazil. Her voice rings smooth when required, but can also cut through space with firmness, clarity and even poetry, depending on the music style. It was a pleasant surprise to meet a singer with a differentiated voice timbre, fine-tuned and musical and with a first class repertoire. Congratulations, Paula, I am your great fan! I wish you great success, which you so much deserve.”
“From the lyric elegance of Madame Butterfly to the melodic chanting of the washerwomen, to the melancholic wailing of lamenting mourners, to the sultry huskiness of Clementina, Satchmo and Nélson Cavaquinho, all would not amount to more than cries and whispers, breeze and silence, for the voice is but an instrument. The difference, and a place also reserved for Paula Santoro, is when the voice is indeed the instrument and life is thus the argument.”
“...Brazil also does a fine line in winsome, girlie singers, and this MPB double bill features the wonderful Paula Santoro. Santoro doesn’t yet have the profile of Bebel Gilberto or Cibelle, but she’d certainly impress the millions who’ve bought their albums. She specialises in beautifully arranged bossa nova classics and samba-pop ballads, switching between Spartan acoustic guitar or piano backing, jazz-edged rhythm sections or elegant string orchestrations. Oddly for a Brazilian singer, you’ll also hear touches of Portuguese fado, flamenco or even some of more stately Cuban folk forms. Proof that the samba can continually reinvent itself for every generation.”
John Lewis - "Time Out" - London, 2003
"...The new Rio sensation, Paula Santoro, skipped on stage with a rock star`s exuberance, but the intimate jazz style of her young trio and her versatile vocal style, with its Satchmo growls and luscious bossa notes, indicated a personally crafted samba-jazz..."
Sue Steward - "Evening Standard" – London, 2003
“Paula Santoro from Minas Gerais is one of those perfect singers: fine voice, perfect pitch and excellent repertoire. As shown is the CD in her own name (Biscoito Fino), which among other hits, opens with a little remembered partnership of Moacir Santos and Vinícius “Se você disser que sim”, includes “Sem Fantasia” by Chico Buarque with his participation, and a pearl from Vitor Ramil “Não é Céu”.
Antonio Carlos Miguel – O Globo – Rio de Janeiro, November 2005