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Pabllo Vittar is a Brazilian singer, songwriter and drag queen whose international popularity exploded this year thanks to a prominent feature on the track Sua Cara by Major Lazer. She also released her first album this year, has racked up hundreds of millions of views and plays on YouTube and Spotify, and is an important role model for the global drag community. So meet Pabllo Vittar, Major Lazer’s favorite Brazilian drag queen.
Pabllo Vittar was born in Brazil’s Maranhão state in 1994. However, she didn’t achieve any semblance of fame until 2014, when she performed the Whitney Houston classic I Have Nothing on a Brazilian TV show. She had only started performing seriously a couple of years earlier, making videos for YouTube of her singing covers and performing at parties. In an interview with Billboard she stated that “on my 18th birthday, I started to do drag for real. It was just for fun at first; I used to play dress up. I evolved a lot until I found the aesthetic I like.”
She rose to greater prominence in Brazil in 2015, also thanks to Major Lazer: her music video for Open Bar, which was a Portuguese-language cover of Major Lazer’s Lean On with original lyrics, was an unexpected smash that year. The track was produced by popular Brazilian baile-funk group Bonde do Rolê and reached over a million views on YouTube in just four months (at the present moment the video has been viewed over 50 million times!).
However, it was 2017 that was truly Pabllo’s breakout year: in January she released her first full-length album Vai Passar Mal (which featured production by Rodrigo Gorky of Bonde do Rolê and Diplo) – the album incorporates a startling mix of musical genres, many of them from different regions of Brazil. The album has been certified Platinum in her home country, and the first single Todo Dia was the undisputed song of Carnival this year. The third single, K.O., has surpassed 240 million views on YouTube and in June Vittar became the most followed drag queen in the world on Instagram and counts on 5.4 million loyal followers.
A month later, Pabllo shot to international fame with another Major Lazer collaboration: she performed, along with Brazilian pop star Anitta, on their track, Sua Cara from the EP Know No Better. The video is about to reach 300 million views and was the second most streamed track from the EP on Spotify. And it didn’t stop there: her September single Corpo Sensual racked up 25 million YouTube views in just 24 hours, putting it 10th in the list of most viewed online videos on the first day of release! Suffice it to say, 2017 has undoubtedly been Pabllo Vittar’s year, both in her native Brazil and around the world.
Beyond her amazing musical success and talent, Pabllo has also become an important role model for drag queens around the world and is highly aware of the importance of having a prominent drag artist on most viewed and most streamed lists worldwide. As she said in the same Billboard interview: “The drag art is growing. We have drags on ads, TV shows, novelas, movies. People now have more access to knowledge about it and less prejudice. I get a lot of messages. The community is changing the image of what drags used to be related to, that all we do is party. We help causes. They tell me I inspired them, but knowing it inspires me. I dropped out of college to follow this dream. We don’t have more time to wait, we have to make a statement and ask for our rights and for respect.” Far from being just another pop star, Pabllo Vittar stands for something important and is helping people to feel accepted and represented through her art.
Pabllo Vittar’s star seems set to continue rising outside her native Brazil, where she is already a huge megastar, so keep your eyes open for her in 2018. After the 2017 she had, it’s impossible to imagine that Major Lazer’s favorite drag queen has peaked in influence and popularity. The best of Pabllo Vittar is surely yet to come…