Brazilians say emotional goodbye to rock icon Rita Lee

AFP , Thursday 11 May 2023

Fans flocked to a Sao Paulo park Wednesday to say an emotional farewell to Brazil's 'Queen of Rock,' the trailblazing singer-songwriter Rita Lee, who died this week at age 75.

Rita Lee
Brazilian rock icon Rita Lee per (File Photo: AFP)


Brazil is holding three days of national mourning for the Latin Grammy-winning icon, who shot to fame in the 1960s with legendary band Os Mutantes and captivated the country across a five-decade career with her rebellious spirit and irreverent songs on sex, love and freedom.

Standing in the rain, hundreds of fans joined a long line that formed early Wednesday outside the planetarium at Sao Paulo's Ibirapuera Park, where a public wake was held for Lee, as she had requested.

"She was a woman before her time, a genius," said 27-year-old fan Barbarhat Sueyassu.

"She's our biggest national symbol of women's rock," she told AFP.

Inside the planetarium dome, fans filed past Lee's simple brown coffin -- some in tears, some singing her songs.

Lee, a leading figure in the "Tropicalismo" movement that revolutionized Brazilian music amid the country's 1964-1985 military dictatorship, was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2021.

She died Monday at home in Sao Paulo, her family said.

With her eye-grabbing outfits, bright red hair and colored sunglasses, Lee was a national fixture across the decades in Brazil, releasing more than 30 albums and racking up hits including "Ovelha Negra" (1975), "Mania de Voce" (1979) and "Lanca Perfume" (1980).

Her body will be cremated in a private ceremony, in line with her wishes, her family said.

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