students understanding a little about the sertanejo story, music and dance in feira de são cristóvão

Have you ever heard the word sertanejo? Do you know what it means? There are a lot of things that are associated with that single word right there. Once and for all, what is the meaning of sertanejo? What about sertanejo music, culture and dance? Do you know any Brazilian country music artists? Have you gotten to know Sertanejo Universitário and the new word “feminejo”? Let’s also listen to some música sertaneja together! Let’s celebrate Sertanejo Day in Brazil with this Dica!

The People of the Sertão

Whenever we use the word sertanejo in Portuguese to refer to people, we are talking specifically about the people who live in the sertão. But what exactly is that? Well, sertão is a desert-like area in Northeastern Brazil. It’s known for its annual droughts and, sadly, for its poverty too. Due to the harsh conditions of the sertão, these people are known for living a very simple life raising cattle and planting to sustain their families.

However, that’s no reason to think that the Brazilian sertão is only negative. It is known as a region where poetry is appreciated and many people are well-versed in it. Sertanejos are kind, hospitable, and have a heart full of hope. They are determined, religious, courageous and at the same time very superstitious.

The sertão and its people were also the inspiration for many great narratives, some involving the region’s history like that of cangaceiros such as Lampião. Notable Brazilian writers who wrote about the sertão include Guimarães RosaEuclides da Cunha and Graciliano Ramos.

Sertanejo Music

Sertanejo is one of the most popular musical genres in Brazil, surpassing even samba. It’s essentially Brazilian Country Music, and it began in 1910 with urban and rural singers who mainly used the viola, a typical 10-string Brazilian guitar, in their songs. It’s usually performed by two singers, both playing violas.

The First Era

When sertanejo first started, it was called country music (música caipira). The songs were about life in the countryside, with its beauties and its hardships. And even though it’s been a while, the fans are still going strong, trying to preserve what is now known as sertanejo raiz (roots of country music). One of the most famous duos of the time was Tonico e Tinoco.

The Second Era

After World War II, new musical instruments began to show up in sertanejo songs. This is also when stars of the genre, such as Milionário e José Rico, arose as well. And as Brazilian country music became more popular, women began to take to the stage, too. Duos such as Cascatinha & Inhana and Irmãs Galvão had significant success in the 1940s and 50s.

The Third Era

Later on, sertanejo music was influenced by American country music, Elvis Presley and the cowboy looks from old spaghetti movies. Brazilian country music artists decided to use electric guitars and wrote lyrics that were more romantic and melodramatic. In the 80s, there were big names like Zezé de Camargo y Luciano, who filmed a biography about their lives in the sertão; Chitãozinho e Xororó, with the enormous hit Evidências; Leandro e Leonardo, Rick & Renner and much more.

Sertanejo Universitário Era

This sub-genre came about in the 2000s as a way to reach a younger crowd. It focuses on teenage and young adult life, parties, college, and mostly carefree romantic relationships. It’s now probably the biggest sub-genre of sertanejo. Some of the Brazilian country singers of this kind of music include Gusttavo Lima, Marília Mendonça, Luan Santana, and Jorge & Mateus.

Sertanejo Universitário

This modern twist on traditional Brazilian country music has not only captivated the nation but has also gained a loyal following across Latin America. Let’s see what makes Sertanejo Universitário a cultural phenomenon and a must-experience for any visitor.

Origins and Evolution

Sertanejo Universitário originated in the late 2000s as an offshoot of the traditional Sertanejo, which has been popular in Brazil since the 1920s. The “universitário” suffix points to its popularity among college students and its modernized sound, which incorporates pop and electronic influences, making it more accessible to the urban youth. Unlike its predecessor, which often featured narratives of rural life and romanticized countryside hardships, Sertanejo Universitário is characterized by a lighter, upbeat tempo and themes that resonate with young, urban listeners.

Key Features

What sets Sertanejo Universitário apart is its blend of traditional and contemporary sounds. Classic instruments like the accordion and violin merge seamlessly with electric guitars and modern beats. The lyrics often explore themes of love, friendship, and partying, reflecting the vibrant social life of Brazilian youth. This genre is also known for its catchy melodies and repetitive hooks, making it incredibly singable and danceable.

Cultural Impact

Sertanejo Universitário has made a significant impact on Brazilian culture, influencing fashion, nightlife, and even language. It’s common to see themed parties and large concerts, known as bailões, where enthusiasts don cowboy hats and boots, embracing the festive spirit of the genre. The music’s popularity has propelled its artists to celebrity status, making them influential figures in Brazilian pop culture.

Most Iconic Música Sertaneja Songs

So we’ve mentioned some of the greatest Brazilian country music artists there are, but we haven’t talked much about the música sertaneja songs. You’d be surprised to find out you may know the lyrics to at least one of them. Check it out:

Sertanejo Dance

Sertanejo dance is the popular Brazilian dance style that accompanies the music genre of sertanejo. This dance style is characterized by its energetic and lively movements, often performed in pairs. It combines elements of traditional Brazilian dances such as forró and country-western line dancing.

The basic steps of sertanejo dance involve a combination of side steps, swaying hips, and twirling movements. The dance can be choreographed or improvised, allowing dancers to showcase their style and creativity. It often involves close physical contact between partners, with the male leading and guiding the female partner through various turns and spins.

Over the years, sertanejo dance has evolved and incorporated influences from other dance styles, such as salsa and zouk. This fusion has added more variety and complexity to the dance, allowing dancers to incorporate different techniques and footwork patterns. Whether you’re a seasoned dancer or a beginner, sertanejo dance offers an exciting and enjoyable experience, allowing you to immerse yourself in the vibrant rhythm and spirit of Brazilian music!!!

Feminejo: Women Changing Brazilian Country Music

Feminejo is a growing trend where women sing sertanejo music. This genre has become quite popular lately. It shows how more women are becoming the main focus in sertanejo music. This change is noticed through online videos and articles in magazines and on websites.

A preliminary study looks into why Feminejo is rising and its impact. It checks the genre’s past, how women have joined in more, and the role of the internet and global connections. All these have helped to make women’s country music more visible in Brazil.

Women are changing Brazilian country music, they are sharing their own experiences through their music.

Key Feminejo Artists

  1. Marília Mendonça – Often hailed as the queen of Feminejo, Marília was known for her powerful voice and poignant lyrics. She brought a depth to Sertanejo that resonated widely with audiences. Her impact remains profound even after her tragic death in 2021.
    • Notable Song: “Infiel – This hit song is a poignant anthem for many women who’ve faced betrayal and are reclaiming their strength.
  2. Maiara & Maraisa – These twin sisters have been instrumental in shaping the Feminejo trend. Their music often explores themes of love, life, and resilience.
    • Notable Song: “Medo Bobo – A soft, melodic tune that captures the vulnerability and excitement of falling in love.
  3. Simone & Simaria – Known as “The Barretos Sisters,” they blend traditional Sertanejo with elements of pop and forró, creating a unique sound that has broad appeal.
    • Notable Song: “Loka (featuring Anitta) – This track is an upbeat, empowering song that talks about getting over heartbreak with a fun night out.
  4. Naiara Azevedo – Famous for her hit “50 Reais”, Naiara’s music often features narratives of female empowerment and assertiveness.
    • Notable Song: “50 Reais – This song tells a story of discovering infidelity and confronting it head-on, which resonated with many for its portrayal of female strength in adversity.
  5. Paula Fernandes – One of the early proponents of the modern Sertanejo sound, Paula combines folk elements with contemporary pop, making her music both soulful and appealing.
    • Notable Song: “Pássaro de Fogo – A powerful ballad that showcases her vocal range and the poetic quality of her lyrics.

Sertanejo Day

students learning more about sertanejo lifestyle in feira de são cristóvão, in rio de janeiro.

So we’ve talked plenty about sertanejo music, people and culture. But we still haven’t explained what Sertanejo Day is all about. It was a radio event made to honor country folk and customs. And it all started because of a tradition that Brazilian country music artists had back in the 60s.

On May 3rd, sertanejo singers and musicians go to the city of Aparecida in São Paulo to attend a mass in honor of Our Lady of Aparecida (Virgin Mary), patron of Brazil. After the religious ceremony, they’d all gather together and play. And so the date gained significance in sertanejo culture.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t experience sertanejo culture when visiting Rio de Janeiro. The Feira de São Cristóvão is a great place to experience country music and food in the city. That’s one of the many places we like to visit during our RioLIVE! activities. Join us someday!

And that’s all, guys! Get into Brazilian culture by listening to one of the most famous genres around! Did you enjoy our sertanejo songs? What are your favorite Brazilian country singers?
See you on the next Dica!

       Click on the links below to see more related Dicas
Musical Instruments in Portuguese
Best Brazilian Songs
Singer Gilberto Gil
Brazilian Samba

This post is also available in: English Português (Portuguese) Español (Spanish)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Search for Portuguese Dicas

Tell us which Portuguese lesson you would like to learn


Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors

Suscribe to A Dica do Dia.

Get free Portuguese lessons. Subscribe to A Dica do Dia and get short, daily lessons in Portuguese completely free.

Based on 321 reviews
I’ve just started online classes with Prof. Ana Carolina & she is the absolute best! It’s my first time learning Portuguese and I was speaking full sentences in the first class. Obrigada!
Katie Andrews
Katie Andrews
Small classes, diverse accents, and engaging professors make Rio & Learn Online a fantastic choice! I've been thrilled with my experience at Rio & Learn Online so far. The small class sizes (around 1-3 others students) allow for personalized attention and plenty of opportunities to practice speaking. What's more, having different professors throughout the program exposes you to various accents, preparing you for real-world interactions. I opted for the full-time program, which involves 2 hours of daily learning from Monday to Friday. After just over 12 weeks, I can confidently say my Portuguese has improved dramatically. The professors are incredibly engaging and encourage students to utilize real-life examples, solidifying the learning process. While I'm only halfway through the program, I'm confident in recommending Rio & Learn Online to anyone seeking to learn Portuguese in a supportive and effective environment. I've gone from being a complete beginner (only knowing hi and bye) to holding conversations - and I'm excited to see how much further I can progress! I'll be back with another review after completing the program, but for now: Rio & Learn Online - highly recommended!
Mona Hinamanu
Mona Hinamanu
I have been taking Portuguese classes with Rio and Learn for a few months. I appreciate their methodology. It is enjoyable and I am challenged and improving every day!
Bryan Beaver
Bryan Beaver
My teachers Lucas, Ana Paula and Paulo were all excellent as well as very friendly and funny. It was a really enjoyable experience and I met loads of interesting new people.
David Smith
David Smith
Rio & Learn e um novo jeito de ensinar a lingua portuguesa. Puro prazer e muito eficiente. Quanto mais alunos na aula mais vida. Eu aconselho voces escolher as aulas grupais por porque sao interativas: rir, falar, argumentar, compartir uma lingua!
Dominique Jacquin
Dominique Jacquin
Après 3 semaines que je suis dans cette école et je peux déjà parler portugais. Certe avec des erreurs mais j'ai fait des progrès fulgurant. En plus, du Lundi au Vendredi l'ecole propose des activitées qu'il appelle "Rio Live" ce qui permet de visiter en même temps Rio tout en parlant Portugais et de rencontrer des gens😃 Toute l'équipe est genial et est prêts à aider si besoin 😁
I've been taking the group online courses with Rio&Learn for 2 months. They offer a fantastic way to learn Portuguese and get speaking practice if you don't live in Brazil. The teachers are engaging and are able to adjust their level of Portuguese to whatever level you are at. Obrigado!
Jake H
Jake H
C'est vraiment fantastique...RioAndLearn. Les cours de portugais...ça vaut vraiment la peine. Les cours ont lieu du lundi au vendredi, (de 9h à 13h) et en après midi, ce sont des activités libres en groupe. (Soccer de plage, volleyball , excursions, visites des lieux touristiques, etc) Vendredi soir, on est allé à Lapa, un quartier nocturne de Rio. C'est quelque chose à voir! Des rues bondées de monde, des orchestres, des discothèques...Allô les décibels! L'apprentissage du portugais se fait en immersion, aussi bien en salle de classe que dans les activités extérieures organisées par Rio&Learn. On est plongé dans la langue portugaise et la culture Brésilienne.... Obligé de parler portugais....🫡 Je le recommande. Pierre Pedro, Montréal, Canada
M54 “M5454” 54
M54 “M5454” 54