The first electric forró band and the inspiration for literally thousands of others, the Mastruz com Leite has recorded over 30 albums (some of them achieving gold and platinum status) in its career, and sold over five-million records. The band's average 16 shows per month which usually gather 10,000 people, and the group has once played for 80,000 in a São João party in Caruaru, Pernambuco.
Taking the traditional forró group (the generic name for a party where the folkloric genres of northeast-Brazilian music are played, like the baião, the xote, etc.) consisting of accordion, triangle, and zabumba (a kind of drum), Emanuel Gurgel added electric instruments, promoting a fusion of traditional and pop music. The band's repertory initially consisted of brega music performed as forró and also existing forró hits. Formed by Gurgel (an impresario who owns a radio network and a recording company) in November 1990, the group's first lineup was accordionist Zé Wilson, drummers Jean and Marcelo, bassist Bel, and vocalists Japinha and Tony Silveira (the latter was also a guitarist). Feeling the need for a female vocalist, Gurgel staged a contest for the Best Female Forró Singer which revealed Beth and Kátia Cilene. Soon after, Beth departed, replaced years later by Beth Nascimento. Playing initially in between the performances of Banda Aquarius (another band owned by Gurgel), the Mastruz com Leite had its first show at the Mangueira Clube (Fortaleza, Ceará) before leaving for a regional tour. Soon, other regions of Brazil were conquered by the pop/northeastern sound of the band, and eventually the only three states which resisted its impact were the three southernmost ones (Rio Grande do Sul, Paraná, and Santa Catarina).
The Mastruz' first hit was "O Rei do Baralho," which received good airplay and opened the way for their first album, Arrocha o Nó (Continental), which had some success with "Eu Preciso de Você" (written by Niceas Drumont and Cecílio Nena). Their second album, Só Pra Chamegar (1993), had the band's first hit, "Meu Vaqueiro, Meu Peão." Still in 1993, the LP Coisa Nossa yielded their first gold record. In 1996, they released the albums Mastruz com Leite no Forró do Gonzagão (dedicated to the "King of Baião," Luiz Gonzaga), and Mastruz com Leite no Forró do Jackson do Pandeiro (dedicated to the coco master). The live album Mastruz com Leite Ao Vivo (1997) sold 1,500,000 copies. In the middle of the next year, "Tatuagem" (from the similarly titled CD) became the most aired song in northeastern Brazil. In 1999, they participated in the film Xuxa Requebra.
The only members from the original lineup to remain in the band are Bel (bass) and Tony Silveira (guitar). The later lineup also consists of vocalists Alberto River, Kátia Cilene, and Bete Nascimento; keyboardist Ednaldo Tapeba; guitarist Rey; bassist Faísca; saxophonist Jorge Nobre; accordionists Zezinho da Paraíba, Chiquinho, and Thiago; backing vocalists Vídia and Adjara; and drummers Artur César and Sinésio, who take turns playing to endure the five uninterrupted hours their shows last. ~ Alvaro Neder