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Eliane Elias (Portuguese: ɛliˈani eˈliəʃ; born 19 March 1960 in São Paulo) is a Brazilian jazz pianist, singer, arranger and songwriter.
Elias is known for her distinctive musical style which blends her Brazilian roots and her voice with instrumental jazz, classical and composition skills. Born in São Paulo, her musical talents developed at an early age. She started studying piano at age seven, and at age twelve was transcribing solos from the great jazz masters. By the time she was fifteen, she was teaching piano and improvisation. Her performing career began in Brazil at age seventeen, working with Brazilian singer/songwriter Toquinho and touring with the poet Vinicius de Moraes. In 1981, she moved to New York City where she attended the Juilliard School of Music. A year later she became part of the acclaimed group Steps Ahead.
Her first album release was a collaboration with Randy Brecker entitled Amanda in 1984. Shortly thereafter her solo career began when she signed to Blue Note Records and released the album Illusions in 1987, which featured Steve Gadd and Stanley Clarke. The following year Cross Currents appeared where Elias worked with Eddie Gomez and Peter Erskine. The third solo album So Far So Close was produced by Eumir Deodato in 1989. Elias has documented dozens of her own compositions. Her recordings have garnered praise from the critics and all have topped the Billboard and jazz radio charts. In 1988 she was voted Best New Talent in the Critics Poll of Jazziz magazine.
In 1993 she was contracted by EMI to record a number of classical pieces, released as On The Classical Side. Along with Herbie Hancock, she was nominated for a Grammy in the "Best Jazz Solo Performance" category for her 1995 release, Solos and Duets. This recording was hailed by Musician magazine as "a landmark in piano duo history". In the 1997 Downbeat Readers Poll, her recording The Three Americas was voted Best Jazz Album. Elias was named in five other categories: Beyond Musician, Best Composer, Jazz Pianist, Female Vocalist, and Musician of the Year. She has recorded two albums solely dedicated to the works of the composer, Plays Jobim and Sings Jobim. Her 1998 release, Eliane Elias Sings Jobim, won Best Vocal Album in Japan, was the number one record on Japan's charts for over three months and was awarded Best Brazilian Album in the Jazziz Critics Poll.
In 2001, Calle 54, a documentary by Oscar-winning Spanish director Fernando Trueba, featured Elias' performance of "Samba Triste" and also received a Grammy nomination for Best Latin Jazz Album. On the Classical Side, recorded in 1993, demonstrated her skills with a program of Bach, Ravel, and Villa Lobos. In 2002, she recorded The Lost Days with Denyce Graves, arranging two Brazilian classical pieces and wrote an original composition especially for Graves entitled "HaabiaTupi". In 2002, Elias signed to the RCA Music Group/Bluebird label and released Kissed by Nature, an album consisting of mostly original compositions. Dreamer, her second recording for the label was released in 2004 and received the Gold Disc Award, as well as being voted Best Vocal Album in Japan in 2004. It reached No. 3 on the pop charts in France and No. 4 on the Billboard charts in the U.S. Elias' Around The City was released on RCA Victor in August 2006.
She returned to Blue Note/EMI in 2007 with Something for You, which won Best Vocal Album of the Year and the Gold Disc Award in Japan. This is also the third consecutive recording of Elias to receive these awards and her fourth overall. Something for You reached No. 1 on the U.S. Jazz Radio charts, No. 8 on Billboard and No. 2 on the French Jazz Charts. In 2008, she recorded Bossa Nova Stories to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Bossa Nova.
In 2009, EMI Japan released Eliane Elias Plays Live. Light My Fire (2011) features four compositions written or co-written by Elias and also includes covers by songwriters including Jim Morrison and the Doors, Stevie Wonder and Paul Desmond. In September 2011, her song "What About the Heart (Bate Bate)" was nominated for a Latin Grammy in the category of Best Brazilian Song. In 2012, she collaborated with bassist Marc Johnson on the album Swept Away, the Editor's and Critic's choice in 2012 Downbeat and Jazztimes magazines respectively. Her 2013 release, I Thought About You reached No. 1 on USA and France Amazon.com, No. 2 on iTunes USA, France and Brazil, and No. 4 on Billboard Jazz Charts.
She was married to Randy Brecker, with whom she has a daughter, the singer Amanda Brecker. They separated in the early 1990s, and she is currently married to Marc Johnson, who plays bass in her band.