Brazil bids shocked goodbye to country star Mendonca

·2-min read
This handout file picture taken on September 25, 2019, and released by Globo TV on November 5, 2021, shows the late Brazilian singer Marilia Mendonca during a TV show called Tamanho Familia, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (AFP/Fabio ROCHA)

Thousands of people flooded the hometown of late Brazilian country music star Marilia Mendonca Saturday to pay an emotional tribute to the beloved singer, a day after she was killed in a plane crash at age 26.

Mendonca, a Latin Grammy-winning superstar of Brazilian "sertanejo" music, died with four other people Friday when a small plane carrying her to a concert crashed in a rural area in the southeastern state of Minas Gerais.

Her body was flown Saturday to the central city of Goiania, her hometown, where huge crowds of fans flocked to a stadium where a massive public wake was to be held.

Fans started lining up at dawn outside the 15,000-capacity arena, where large floral arrangements were arriving in a steady stream, AFP correspondents said.

"We came to say goodbye to our great Marilia Mendonca and thank her for spending these years of her life singing for us and making our hearts soar," student Davi Dyeimes Linares, who traveled 130 kilometers (80 miles) to be the first in line, told news site G1.

Some 100,000 people were expected to attend, said Goias state Governor Ronaldo Caiado.

The star and an uncle who worked with her -- also killed in the crash -- were due to be laid to rest later in a small private ceremony for close friends and family at a local cemetary.

Mendonca's producer and the two pilots were also killed in the crash, which left their twin-engine plane shattered against the rocks near a picturesque waterfall outside the city of Caratinga, where the artist had been scheduled to perform.

Mendonca was known for breaking into a country music scene long dominated by men and machismo. She was a leading figure in a burgeoning sub-genre known as "feminejo," or sertanejo music by women.

Nicknamed the "Queen of Suffering," she was known for ballads of heartbreak and long-suffering lovers, but also for singing of empowerment and the need for women to "overcome" -- the title of one of her most famous songs.

She had 22 million subscribers on YouTube, 39 million followers on Instagram and more than eight million monthly listeners on Spotify.

Her death drew heartfelt tributes from figures ranging from Brazilian music legend Caetano Veloso to football superstar Neymar to President Jair Bolsonaro, who said the country was "in shock."

"She was one of the greatest artists of her generation," he wrote on Twitter.

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