Seu Jorge

Seu Jorge will perform Saturday in Hollywood. (Nana+SEP+Moraes, The Rhythm Foundation/Courtesy / July 23, 2013)

During a rare tour of the United States, Brazilian superstar Seu Jorge this Saturday will bring his light bossa-nova grooves to downtown Hollywood. Seu Jorge, best known for his Portuguese covers of David Bowie songs in the 2004 film "The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou," will headline a free concert at ArtsPark at Young Circle.

He will be joined by local singer Rose Max and the South-Florida-based choir Brazilian Voices in a musical and culinary celebration of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil's second largest city and the host of the 2016 Olympics. The ArtsPark event is part of a cultural series organized by the Rhythm Foundation and the Hollywood Community Redevelopment Agency.

Born Jorge Mário da Silva, the 43-year-old singer-songwriter says his interest in music began at the samba balls he attended as a child to escape the hopelessness of growing up in Rio's infamous favelas.

"I come from a very poor home in a small community of good people who suffered from the problems of the system," Seu Jorge says in a phone interview. "It wasn't only hard to find resources and opportunities, but also everyday things like brooms."


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The entertainer spent about three years homeless before finding success as an international musician and film star.

Seu Jorge's first break came through Brazilian clarinetist Paulo Moura, who met the street musician in Rio and suggested he audition for a local musical. After recording an album and performing in several college plays, Jorge landed a breakout role as Knockout Ned in the 2002 Academy Award-nominated film "City of God." Last year, Seu Jorge, along with soccer star Pelé and others, paid tribute to his home city during the closing ceremonies of the London Olympics.

"He seems to have an undefinable street credibility, but also critical and commercial success," says Manuel Pila, the Hollywood CRA's program manager. "He's someone everybody likes. And he's hot now. He's not someone who had all this success 20 years ago."

Seu Jorge says he's looking forward to an intimate event at which concertgoers can enjoy Brazilian cocktails, food and music.

"I love connecting with a different audience," he says. "I like those shows where the Brazilians mix with the Americans and everyone else."

Hollywood ArtsWalk Experience: Rio de Janeiro will begin 6 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free. Call 954-921-3500 or go to HollywoodFL.org.

mfelix@tribune.com, twitter.com/mj_felix