Acclaimed Brazilian Singer Elza Soares Dead at 91: 'She Sang Until the End'

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
elza soares
elza soares

elza soares/instagram

Brazilian singer and samba icon Elza Soares has died. She was 91.

A statement shared to her official Instagram page, signed by members of her family, her manager, and her team, announced the loss Thursday.

"It is with great sadness and regret that we report the death of singer and composer Elza Soares, aged 91, at 15:45 at her home in Rio de Janeiro, of natural causes," the statement begins.

"Icon of Brazilian music, considered one of the greatest artists in the world, the singer elected as the Voice of the Millennium had a triumphant, intense life, that moved the world with her voice, her strength and her determination."

It adds that "the beloved and eternal Elza rested, but she will forever be in the history of music and in our hearts and thousands of fans around the world."

"Elza Soares' will was done, she sang until the end," the message continues, signed by Pedro Loureiro, Vanessa Soares, and "family members and Elza team."

RELATED: Mac Miller's Mom, Close Friend Thundercat and More Pay Tribute on Late Rapper's 30th Birthday

In a separate post, loved ones shared that the wake will be held Friday at the Municipal Theater of Rio de Janeiro and that she will be memorialized at Sulacap Jardim da Saudade cemetery. The burial will be closed to the public.

Soares was born in Moca Bonita, the poverty-stricken westside of Rio, in 1930, according to The Guardian.

She married at the age of 12 due to a mandate from her father and bore her first child at 13. Her second child died of hunger when the star was 15.

Rolling Stone reports that Soares initially concealed many details of her personal life, including her age, for many years.

In 1960, she garnered a record deal, kicking off her iconic singer career, going on to have hits like "Se Acaso Você Chegasse" and "Cadeira Vazia."

While the songstress, known for her jazz and samba sound, often experimented with other genres, she stayed true to her Brazilian roots.

She garnered the attention of Queen Elizabeth II during one of the royal's visits to Brazil in 1968.

RELATED: Fashion Icon and Former Vogue Creative Director André Leon Talley Dead at 73

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

"She liked the samba, you know!" Elza later shared, according to The Guardian. "She even broke protocol by tapping along to the rhythm with her feet. My God, isn't life mad?"

The British embassy in Brazil recalled the special moment while paying tribute to Soares on Twitter Thursday.

"In Brazil, in 1968, @ElzaSoares impressed Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II with her voice and presence. A meeting of queens!" the organization wrote. "Rest in peace, Elsa."

Soares briefly stepped away from music in the 2010s before making her return with A Mulher do Fim do Mundo in 2015, an album that earned her a Latin Grammy for Best Musica Popular Brasileira Album. The project notably addressed violence against the LGBTQ community, police brutality, and those living oppressed in Brazil.

Her later albums, Deus é Mulher and Planeta Fome, released in 2018 and 2019 respectively, also received Grammy nods.