Roberto Leal, stage name of António Joaquim Fernandes, (Macedo de Cavaleiros, 27 November 1951 — São Paulo, 15 September 2019) was a Portuguese singer, composer and actor based in Brazil. He was considered an ambassador of Portuguese culture in Brazil. Throughout his career of more than 45 years, he has won thirty gold records, in addition to five platinum records and five hundred trophies and according to different sources his total sales amount to 15 million or even 25 million.

First years
Son of Avelino Augusto Fernandes and Maria Julia Patricio, Roberto Leal was born in the parish of Vale da Porca, in Macedo de Cavaleiros, in the District of Bragança, in the north of Portugal. He had a poor childhood and declared that he ate only potatoes for a year after the family’s wheat harvest was destroyed by a thunderstorm. With the aim of having a better life, he emigrated to Brazil, at the age of eleven, in 1962, together with his parents and nine brothers, on five ship trips. In the city of São Paulo, after working as a shoemaker and candy merchant, he began his career as a singer of fado and romantic songs.

In 1971 he had his first big hit with “Arrebita”, known for its chorus “Ai cachopa, se tu queres ser beautiful, arrebita, arrebita, arrebita”, after appearing on the program Discoteca do Chacrinha. Soon after, he began to gain great popularity performing on several auditorium programs in Brazil. The albums Carimbó Português (1976) and Rock Vira (1977) won a gold record, with more than 150 thousand copies sold each, according to ABPD.

In 1978 he participated in the film Milagre-O Poder da Fé, which featured special appearances from some important names such as presenter Chacrinha, Elke Maravilha and actress Lolita Rodrigues. Released in 1979, the film covers his life story. Directed by Hércules Breseghelo, parts were filmed in the singer’s hometown.

In addition to the romantic-popular repertoire, his work was also characterized by mixing Portuguese and Brazilian rhythms, in addition to recording in typically Brazilian styles such as forró. Almost all of his repertoire is made up of tracks written by himself and in partnership with his wife Márcia Lúcia, with whom he was married and had three Brazilian children, including music producer Rodrigo Leal.

In addition to being a singer and composer, Leal was a presenter of programs on Rádio Capital in São Paulo in the 1980s, a presenter on the Portuguese channel TVI and in Brazil, also having presented programs on TV Gazeta and Rede Vida.

He released the CD Canto da Terra in 2007 and Raiç / Raízes in 2009. On these albums he recorded songs in Mirandese to promote Portugal’s second official language. These records earned him awards and decorations from Portuguese music critics for his in-depth study of musical instruments widely used in Mirandese music, such as bagpipes.

In his career he sold around seventeen million records and has recorded more than three hundred songs. He is one of the composers of the current anthem of Portuguesa de Desportos, from São Paulo. He was also a partner in the Portuguese food restaurant Marquês de Marialva, in São Paulo, located in the Barueri region.

In 2011 he participated in the cast of the sitcom Último a Sair, a fake reality show written by Bruno Nogueira, João Quadros and Frederico Pombares, shown on the Portuguese channel RTP1, a program from which he won. That same year he published an autobiography in a book entitled Minhas Montanhas, being released in both Brazil and Portugal.

In 2014 he participated in Chiquititas, acting as himself, Roberto Leal, the musician who sues Tobias for using his music. That same year, he released the CD Thank you Brasil!, which included some sambas by Jorge Aragão and Arlindo Cruz and duets with Jair Rodrigues, Alcione, Jairzinho and Luciana Mello.

Roberto Leal lived between Brazil and Portugal, in addition to performing in countries in South America, Central America and Europe, promoting Portuguese culture. Collections of his main hits were released, sold both in Brazil and Portugal.

In 2018, he ran for state deputy for São Paulo for the Brazilian Labor Party (PTB), obtaining 8,273 votes (0.04% of valid votes), not being elected.

Illness and death
In January 2019, Roberto Leal revealed that he had been fighting melanoma for two years, but suffered from metastasis to his eyes and spine, and that as a result he had lost part of his vision, also due to cataracts.

He died at the age of 67, on September 15, 2019. The cause of death was a malignant melanoma, which progressed, affecting the liver, causing hepatorenal syndrome, and also complications resulting from an allergic reaction to chemotherapy drugs. The singer had been hospitalized for five days in the semi-intensive unit at Hospital Samaritano de São Paulo.

He had been married for 45 years to Márcia Lúcia. The couple had three children, born in Brazil, and two grandchildren. One of the sons, musician Rodrigo Leal, stated that the family only revealed the severity of the disease to Roberto Leal shortly before his death.

According to Rodrigo, this made his father’s life longer, as he did not stop working because of the illness. He was buried in the Congonhas Cemetery in São Paulo.

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