Ahead of the release of the animated film Rio 2 on April 11, GRAMMY-winning Brazilian artist Sergio Mendes recently participated in an exclusive GRAMMY.com interview. Hosted at Scott Frankfurt Studio in Woodland Hills, Calif., Mendes discussed co-producing the Rio 2 soundtrack, capturing the diversity of the music from his home country and collaborating with GRAMMY-nominated singer Janelle Monáe on "What Is Love," among other topics.
"Rio 2 gave us the possibility to show the diversity of Brazilian music," said Mendes. "A lot of people think that Brazilian music is mostly Carnival music or maybe bossa nova … but there are other rhythms from Brazil … wonderful rhythms that we're able to bring into Rio 2. That was the fun of this project."
Born in Niteroi, Brazil, Mendes emerged as a leading Brazilian artist in the '60s with his group Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66. Following the release of his debut album, 1961's Dance Moderno, Mendes released hit albums such as Herb Albert Presents Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66 (1966, No. 7), Look Around (1968, No. 5) and Fool On The Hill (1968, No. 3). The former recording was inducted in the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame in 2012.
Mendes' 1992 album Brasileiro climbed to the top of Billboard's Top World Music Albums chart and earned him his first GRAMMY for Best World Music Album. In 2006 he released Timeless, which featured collaborations with artists such as GRAMMY winners John Legend, Justin Timberlake, Q-Tip, and Stevie Wonder, among others. The album garnered two GRAMMY nominations for Best Urban/Alternative Performance for "Mas Que Nada" (with GRAMMY winners the Black Eyed Peas) and "That Heat" (with GRAMMY winners Erykah Badu and will.i.am). Mendes' most recent studio album, 2010's Bom Tempo, earned a GRAMMY nomination for Best Contemporary World Music Album.
Co-produced by Mendes and GRAMMY-nominated composer John Powell (Happy Feet), among others, the Rio 2 soundtrack follows the soundtrack for 2011's Rio, which Mendes executive produced. Released on March 25, the Rio 2 soundtrack features 14 songs, including Monáe's "What Is Love," GRAMMY nominees B.o.B and Ester Dean's "Rio Rio" and GRAMMY winner Bruno Mars' "Welcome Back."