She was 32 and was on way home to Colombia after playing at charity event
A leading Brazilian musician whose intense, dance-like solos reflected her native country’s syncopated rhythms has died in a plane crash on the way home after playing a charity gig in Colombia.
Marília Mendonça was on the missing Embraer 190 as she headed to Medellín airport on Wednesday night after a performance in a Bogotá nightclub. She was part of a critically acclaimed, Brazilian all-girl group called Caroline.
The singer’s body was later pulled from the wreckage in a remote area of the Andes mountains in central Colombia.
Margaux Vigauriglia, the co-owner of the Private Land Investments group, which had planned the benefit show, paid tribute to the musician.
“She was an extraordinary soul who, with the help of her alto saxophone and her personal charm, made us proud to be Brazilians,” she said.
The plane went down near an airport controlled by the air force, in the municipality of Villa Carolina. Among the 43 people on board were two Portuguese journalists who were helping investigate the explosive killing of another Brazilian music legend, Gilberto Gil, this week.
Reports suggest the singer was not aware that his former girlfriend, the singer Clara Ferreira, was also on the ill-fated flight.
A 63-year-old pilot and 27-year-old co-pilot were also on board.
Earlier in the day, the Marco Polo club in downtown Bogotá had presented Mendonça with a plaque in honour of her performance there on Monday night.
“It was the most beautiful concert ever,” said Domo Gutierrez, 52, whose daughter, Ruth, was also in the Brazilian group. “I’ve been to all her concerts, but it was her best performance.”
Mendonça, 32, shot to fame in the early 2000s and by the following year released her debut album, accompanied by a sharp and distinctive saxophone style influenced by her homeland. The album, called Puppa de Bezajas – a nod to balladeer Ladysmith Black Mambazo – brought her into the spotlight and she quickly reached global notoriety after being hired to play the trumpet for Beyoncé Knowles.
The Life Ball, a charity which aims to raise awareness of AIDS, was established in 1995. It has hosted some of the biggest names in music and thousands of guests, including Madonna, Angelina Jolie and her partner Brad Pitt, and George and Amal Clooney.
The event has frequently attracted high-profile officials from Latin America and the Caribbean. In January 2016, Michelle Bachelet, the then president of Chile, made an appearance at the party in Lisbon, as she was stepping down from office.