Dick Farney was an outstanding singer, instrumentalist, and composer who contributed decisively to the renovation of Brazilian popular music with the incorporation of jazz harmonies and style.
Having been the first artist ever to record "Tenderly," which would become an international hit later in the interpretation of Nat "King" Cole, Farney had hits in Brazil that announced the soon-to-be bossa nova genre, such as "Copacabana" and "Teresa da Praia" (the latter having been recorded in duet with Lúcio Alves). He also worked on the films Somos Dois (1950, by Milton Rodrigues), Carnaval Atlântida (1952, by José Carlos Burle), and Perdidos de Amor (1953, by Eurides Ramos). The son of a pianist and female singer, Farney became a classical pianist and also a singer while in his teens, he performed Manuel de Falla's pieces at the Rádio Mayrink Veiga at 14. Also taken by North American pop/jazz music, Farney became the pianist of the Swing Maníacos group, along with brother, drummer Cyl Farney. Farney's first public appearance as a singer was in 1937 at the Rádio Cruzeiro do Sul (Rio de Janeiro). At the Rádio Mayrink Veiga, he had his own show (Dick Farney, Sua Voz e Seu Piano). From 1941 to 1944, he performed at the Cassino da Urca as the crooner for the Orquestra de Carlos Machado. His first recording as a singer came in 1944 as the crooner of the Ferreira Filho orchestra with "The Music Stopped" (Rodgers/Hart). As a solo singer, his first recording was two years later, interpreting the samba-canção "Copacabana" (João de Barro/Alberto Ribeiro), that would become one of his classics. Still in 1946, he went to the U.S. to perform with Cole, Bill Evans, and David Brubeck. In the next year, he had another season in that country, performing for two months at NBC radio and doing live shows in Hollywood, Chicago, and San Francisco. Dick Farney launched "Tenderly" (Walter Gross) in that period through Majestic Records. In Brazil, he had success with the songs "Marina" (Dorival Caymmi), "Um Cantinho e Você" (José Maria de Abreu/Jair Amorim), and "Nick Bar" (Garoto/José Vasconcelos). In 1949, Farney toured Argentina and Uruguay. In the early '50s, he had success with "Uma Loira" (Hervê Cordovil), "Alguém Como Tu" (José Maria de Abreu/Jair Amorim), "Sem Esse Céu," and "Ranchinho de Palha" (both by Luís Bonfá). In 1954, he formed the Dick Farney e Seu Conjunto, in which he played the piano. A new phase began in this year, marked by his association with Tom Jobim, that announced the forthcoming bossa nova times; in that year, "Teresa da Praia" (Tom Jobim/Billy Blanco) became a huge hit, interpreted by Farney and Lúcio Alves. The song intended to discredit the so-called rivalry between the two singers. In the same year, Farney participated in the Sinfonia do Rio de Janeiro (Tom Jobim/Billy Blanco) and formed a jazz quartet with drummer Rubinho, bassist Xu Viana, and saxophonist Casé. The group had success, having performed at the Municipal Theater of Rio de Janeiro and recorded an LP. In 1957, he departed for the U.S., where he performed for one year in New York, NY, touring afterwards through Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Porto Rico, and the Caribbean. In 1959, he had his own show at TV Record (São Paulo), and in 1965, he and Betty Faria hosted the Dick e Betty 17 show at TV Globo (Rio de Janeiro). In 1965, Farney launched an album through Elenco with "Você," another of his biggest hits. In 1971, Farney formed a trio with bassist Sabá (Sebastião Oliveira da Paz) and drummer Toninho (Antônio Pinheiro Filho) that performed at Flag's nightclub. Continuing to record and perform regularly, Farney's last release was the live record Dick Farney Ao Vivo (1986). ~ Alvaro Neder