RIO DE JANEIRO — Marília Mendonça, one of the world’s most celebrated artists who scored a number of tunes on the soundtrack to “Evita,” died in a plane crash in southern Brazil on Thursday. She was 80.
“It’s sad news. She was an important musician,” said Peter Gabriel, who composed a duet with Mendonça for his 1995 album “Liselotte.” “It’s a sad day for music around the world.”
A police report released Friday said the plane that crashed Thursday disappeared from radar screens five minutes after takeoff, about 120 miles south of Sao Paulo, the capital of Brazil. There were no survivors.
The 30-seat Cessna 206A had taken off from Danilov, a city in the agricultural state of Sao Paulo, according to the pilot’s telephone transmission to the control tower. The last transmission was from the pilot reporting “stuff falling around us” and that his plane was “low,” according to state civil aviation authority officials.
The aircraft crashed and burst into flames less than a minute later, according to the ATC report. The pilot’s dispatcher found out that the plane was down near Consonarga, about 85 miles south of Sao Paulo, after she had checked in to the control tower after takeoff.
Mendonça, who was also a poet, dancer and a teacher, was nicknamed the Madonna of Soweto because of her huge following in South Africa. She was on a nine-day tour of the state of Santa Catarina before the plane went down.
“We never expected that Marília would be killed in this plane,” said Maifa Mandela, South Africa’s First Lady and widow of Nelson Mandela. “Her brilliant music and deep humanist gesture have had a profound impact on my country and the international community through which she flowed. Our sympathies are with her family, friends and comrades at this difficult time.”
In many ways, Mendonça defined herself as a perfect Brazilian. The youngest of eight children, she was raised on a farm and rarely had television in her home. She was married three times and divorced three times.
On Thursday, she was a familiar and respected figure on the popular São Paulo FM radio and TV show “Nossa Así.” She would play anything from Brazilian rumba to bossa nova to jazz. On top of that, she played the organ, trombone and lead guitar. She held the classiest of titles, sinfonia nova clásica, or biggest string orchestra.
Singer Gilbert Guilbert called her “a beautiful person with a good heart.”
Her songs soared to the top of the Billboard Latin music charts. “Evita,” the 1972 film about Argentine singer Eva Peron, was one of the biggest hits of all time, particularly for her rendition of “La Vida es solida.”
In 2015, Mendonça won a Grammy for best sólida, or traditional song, for the song “Mujeres com la Biblia.” On Thursday, the music video for the song had been released, featuring the artist’s daughters.