Carlos Manuel Marques Paião (1 November 1957 in Coimbra – 26 August 1988 in Rio Maior) was a Portuguese singer and songwriter. He graduated in Medicine from the University of Lisbon (1983), eventually dedicating himself exclusively to music.
He was born in Coimbra, the son of a bar pilot who, years before, had dedicated himself to cod fishing, and a teacher, living in Ílhavo (his parents’ birthplace). From an early age, Carlos Paião proved to be a prolific composer, and by 1978 he had already written more than two hundred songs. That year he obtained his first public recognition, winning the Illiabum Clube Song Festival.
In 1980 he competed, for the first time, in the Festival RTP da Canção, at a time when this event represented a platform for success and fame in the Portuguese music world, but was not selected. With Playback he won the Festival RTP da Canção 1981, with an overwhelming score of 203 points, leaving behind competitors as strong as Doce and José Cid. The song, an amusing but scathing critique of lip-synching artists, placed second to last in the Eurovision Song Contest 1981, held in Dublin, Republic of Ireland. This classification did not “pinch” the singer-songwriter’s popularity in the slightest, as Carlos Paião, that same year, released another successful single that remains popular to this day: Pó de Arroz.
The success that followed was Marcha do Pião das Nicas, a song in which the singer once again showed his satirical side. Telefonia (Nas Ondas do Ar) was the B-side of this single.
Carlos Paião composed songs for other artists, including Herman José, who would achieve great success with A Canção do Beijinho (1980), and Amália Rodrigues, for whom he wrote O Senhor Extra-Terrestre (1982).
Algarismos (1982), his first LP, did not, however, obtain the desired recognition. However, the opportunity arose to participate in the television program O Foguete, with António Sala and Luís Arriaga.
In 1983, he sang alongside Cândida Branca Flor, with whom he performed a very patriotic duet entitled Vinho do Porto, Vinho de Portugal, which came in 3rd place at the RTP Festival of the song.
In another program, Hermanias (1984), Carlos Paião composed all the music and lyrics for Serafim Saudade, a character created by Herman José, already one of the most popular figures on Portuguese television.
In 1985 he entered the World Popular Song Festival of Tokyo, with his song being one of the 18 selected.
On August 26, 1988, he died in a violent car accident, on his way to a concert-festivals in honor of S. Ginésio, in Penalva do Castelo (the posters of the town’s festivals confirm this). The accident took place on the former National Road 1, near Rio Maior. His death has been the subject of controversy as it is unclear whether he was to blame for the accident that killed him. His body was buried in São Domingos de Rana, a parish in the municipality of Cascais.
He was preparing a new album entitled Intervalo, which was released in September of that year, and whose most successful theme was When the clouds cry.
Composer, performer and instrumentalist, Carlos Paião produced more than three hundred songs.
In 2003, a compilation commemorating the 15th anniversary of his disappearance was published – Carlos Paião: Letra e Música – 15 years later (Valentim de Carvalho).
In 2008, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the musician’s disappearance, several musicians and bands reinterpreted some of the author’s themes in the edition of a tribute album, “Tributo a Carlos Paião”.
His remains are transferred to the cemetery in the parish of São Salvador, in the municipality of Ílhavo, at the request of his parents, at the end of 2014.
On January 29, 2016, the Parish Council of São Domingos de Rana starred in a Tribute to Carlos Paião, in an evening that featured many artists for whom Carlos Paião wrote and who reinterpreted him. On January 30, 2016, the Carlos Paião Exhibition was inaugurated in São Domingos de Rana with the estate of the singer-songwriter.
On September 10, 2020, he was made Commander of the Order of Infante D. Henrique posthumously.
On June 26, 2021, a bronze statue of the singer is inaugurated in the city center of Ílhavo, by decision of the City Council within the scope of requalifications that took place in the area. The sculpture, by the plastic artist Albano Martins, is 1 meter and 80 centimeters high and has the inscription “#emPlayBack”, and is located on Calçada Carlos Paião, located in Jardim Henriqueta Maia.