When the group of five friends comprising Sorriso Maroto began performing around São Paulo at friends' parties and small gatherings in 1997, they probably had little idea that they would become one of the genre's favorite groups within a decade.
Favoring the popular style called pagode, a subgenre of samba made popular in the early '80s in Rio de Janeiro by groups like Grupo Fundo de Quintal and Zeca Pagodinho, the band found an enthusiastic audience almost immediately. As Bruno (voice), Cris (pandiero, percussion), Sergio (violao), Fred (surdo, percussion), and Vinicius (keyboards) began to pick up steam, they moved from after-hours parties to the city's most important nightclubs. Sorriso Maroto's self-titled debut disc, released in 2002, became a bestseller throughout São Paulo. Thanks to their polished performances and media-friendly good looks, the bandmembers found an eager and inviting audience as they performed throughout Brazil. The band's follow-up disc, Por Voce, released in 2003, hit national Top Ten lists and remained there for a lengthy period of time. The tour that followed produced the hugely popular Por Voce: Ao Vivo, released in 2005. The live disc's warm reception paved the way for the band's third studio album released a year later, entitled Diferente. As much of Brazilian pop music turned toward a rock band aesthetic, Sorriso Maroto's traditional Brazilian instrumentation yet contemporary-sounding repertoire earned them a reputation as one of pagode's most popular touring and recording groups of the mid-2000s. ~ Evan C. Gutierrez