Alf was additionally Black, poor and homosexual in an trade aiming to draw prosperous white audiences to the style. Napolitano mentioned that within the late ’50s, the music enterprise noticed in bossa nova an opportunity to compete with American rock ’n’ roll, and Valencia acknowledged that race and sophistication inequalities restricted Alf’s rise: “There was a motion to advertise Tom Jobim, who was wealthy, white, younger, handsome,” he mentioned, and added that with Alf’s skills, “perhaps he was somebody who might overshadow Tom Jobim.”
Alf’s expertise, Rodrigues mentioned, might even have been an issue for Aloysio de Oliveira, an influential bossa nova producer who was significantly fascinated with selling Jobim and Gilberto in the US. Alf was excluded from the landmark “Bossa Nova at Carnegie Hall” live performance, organized by Oliveira and held in New York in 1962.
Alaíde Costa, Alf’s favourite singer, mentioned that racism in bossa nova has all the time been veiled, to the purpose the place Black individuals, like her and Alf, didn’t even notice they have been going through discrimination. “When the motion started, I used to be already an expert. I was invited to the conferences as a result of I might assist the motion someway,” she mentioned in a telephone interview. “However when the bossa nova boomed, I felt I used to be now not vital.” She added that she regrets not having been a part of the motion in a bigger manner.
Whereas Alf by no means achieved stardom, the style’s legends all the time noticed him as a musical guru. Jobim not solely used to name him Genialf (a mixture of “genius” and “Alf”), however was so impressed by “Rapaz de Bem” that he composed “Desafinado (Off-Key),” one in every of bossa nova’s most well-known songs. When Gilberto realized that Alf’s uncommon syncopations reminded him of the beat of the tamborim (a samba percussion instrument), he mentioned he had lastly discovered what he was searching for.
Alf, nonetheless, has remained just a few steps faraway from fame. He was, Valencia, mentioned, “his personal hero and personal villain.”