Raimundo Sodré had a nationwide smash in 1980 with the single "A Massa" (third place at TV Globo's Festival MPB) and the similarly titled LP, but never had another success, having released several other albums. His music is loaded with northeast-Brazilian rhythms and traditional influences from the region of the Bahian Recôncavo, both seaside and hinterlands, such as chulas and sambas de roda. In spite of their popular appeal, Raimundo Sodré's songs have been praised for their literary content.
In 1972, Sodré abandoned medical school and went to live in São Paulo, teaching private guitar classes and doing shows in small bars. Sodré only started to harvest some results for his work when he began to perform in nightclubs like the Partido Alto. After some years, tired of fruitless results, he returned to his hometown where he met, in the mid-'70s, the composer Jorge Portugal, who would be one of his collaborators in the future. With Portugal, Sodré starred in the musical Sertafro, which had local success, especially the toada "O Canto da Vorta Seca."
Playing in the university circuit in 1976 with the music and theater show Reconcertão, Sodré was accompanied by Jorge Portugal, the playwright Arthur Dantas, and the musician Roberto Mendes, along with the group Sangue e Raça. In the next year, they presented a music and dance show with the groups Intercena, Conga, and Carmen Paternostro throughout Brazil. Returning to Salvador in 1978, Sodré participated in the Mambembão prize winning play Oxente Gente Cordel, directed by the late João Augusto.
In 1978, Raimundo Sodré moved to Rio de Janeiro, where he made a living off of guitar classes, returning to his small shows at night. In one of his few opportunities at bigger nightclubs, sharing a performance with Tânia Alves at Nelson Motta's highly successful-at-the-time Dancin' Days, Sodré was hired by Armando Pitiglianni, Polygram's A&R director. Recording "A Massa" in late 1979, Sodré brought to mainstream attention to the universe of northeastern Brazilian rhythms of chula, samba de roda, xote, and baião, from the Bahian Recôncavo and hinterlands. Before the album's release, Sodré participated in TV Globo's Festival da Nova MPB in early 1980, earning third place with the chula and baião song "A Massa" (written with Jorge Portugal). Popular acclaim yielded him a gold record for over 100,000 copies sold of this LP.
After a winning Brazilian tour, Sodré performed together with Djalma Correa and Dudu do Gantois in a percussion festival in New York, NY, organized and sponsored by the Theater of Latin America. Sodré's second album, Coisa de Nego, released in the next year, explored more aggressively the northeastern Brazilian rhythms, bringing on cosmopolitan (from Iberian to the Beatles) influences to xaxado, baião, galope, chula, samba duro, samba de roda, and frevo. The ten-string viola also brought more attention in this work. The samba de roda "Ei Moço" earned some airplay, but not enough to bring a major enthusiasm around the release. Depressed by the failure, Sodré moved to Manaus, Amazon, where he wrote the songs for his timid album, Beijo Moreno. In that period, he staged the show Cantações, performing also with Yta Moreno in several Brazilian regions.
Still, in 1983, he participated in the French Music Festival in Paris, France, having been the only Brazilian artist invited for the event. In Brazil, Sodré stayed out of the commercial circuit until 1987, when he produced the show Soando Raízes with the Senegalese percussionist and dancer Mamour Bá. Another version of the show was presented two years later.
In 1990, Sodré participated in the Carnival of Nice (France), settling in that country. In the same year, he did his first European tour, starting in Paris at the Le Carnaval Brésilien at the Cirque d'Hiver (returning in the next year), followed by shows in Germany, England, Italy, and Switzerland. In 1995, he recorded his fourth album, Real, through the German label Tropical Rock. Still based in the northeastern Brazilian musical tradition, this album is singular in his discography for its electric approach. ~ Alvaro Neder