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Carlinhos started playing pandeiro around the age of seven.

When he was 14, he started a life-long affiliation with the great samba school Mangueira. A member of the school noticed his playing and dancing during a Mangueira rehearsal and made it clear that Carlinhos should join. That person was Jamelão, the legendary singer for Mangueira.

Around 1958, Carlinhos started playing professionally, eventually starting a pandeiro trio in the early 1960s with his wife Ana and good friend Rogerio.

As a kid, Carlinhos had watched many of the great pandeiro players perform. He recalls seeing Ruso do Pandeiro, who played with Carmen Miranda, spinning his pandeiro on his fingers. Carlinhos decided to take that performance aspect to another level and over time developed many of the pandeiro juggling maneuvers (called malabarismo) still in use today. He soon established himself as a fixture in the Mangueira parades at Carnaval, juggling his pandeiro and dancing at the front of the group.

In 1966 a national contest was held to determine the best pandeiro player in Brazil. The winner would be crowned with the title Pandeiro de Ouro (Golden Tambourine). Carlinhos didn't want to participate at first because of his busy playing schedule, but after his performing partner Rogerio signed him up without telling him, he decided to give it a go.

Over 500 pandeiristas showed up for the first round where each contestant was judged for their playing ability and showmanship. Out of this first group 10 people were picked for the final round which was held in Maracanã soccer stadium. Once again, each contestant had several minutes to demonstrate their knowledge of a variety of rhythms on the pandeiro, as well as malabarismo and dancing. In the end Carlinhos was awarded the Pandeiro de Ouro prize which, besides the title, literally included two golden pandeiros. He would forever afterwards be known as Carlinhos Pandeiro de Ouro. After winning the contest he changed the name of his pandeiro trio to Trio Pandeiro de Ouro.

Carlinhos soon established himself as a top-notch session player, appearing on Globo TV and Radio NAÇIONAL during the late '60s and into the '70s.

He regularly appeared on TV shows as Alerta Geral with Alcione, and Brasil Pandiero with Betty Faria. Other prominent performers he played with on TV and radio included Carlos Machada, Ataulfo Alves de Sousa, Emilinha Borba, and Jackson do Pandeiro. In 1978 Carlinhos contributed several songs to the movie Samba da Criação do Mundo.

Carlinhos has also played with many great North American musicians. During the '70s he was percussionist for drummer Ed Thigpen. He can be heard on Thigpen's recently reissued album Resource (available on iTunes). In 1982 he joined flutist Herbie Mann's group. Other legendary Brazilian musicians Carlinhos has performed and toured with include Martinho da Vila, Beth Carvalho, Maria Bethania, and Sergio Mendes. His career as a percussionist sideman took him on tours through Europe, the Americas, Australia, Asia, and Africa.

In the early '80s Carlinhos moved to Hawaii where he lived for the next 20 years.

While in Hawaii teamed up with a Japanese Taiko group and helped them to incorporate Brazilian rhythms into their music. This collaboration led Carlinhos and the Taiko group to Japan for a concert with the Tokyo symphony.

In 2002, Carlinhos moved to Los Angeles and quickly immersed himself in the Brazilian music scene there.

He is constantly in demand as a percussionist for musicians from San Francisco to San Diego. Aside from his performance schedule, Carlinhos also teaches pandeiro at the California Brazil camp in Cazadero, California each year. He also teaches a Brazilian percussion class each week at the 18th Street Arts Complex in Santa Monica, California. In 2006 Carlinhos received a Master Musician's grant from the Durfee Foundation which allows him to teach the pandeiro to two private students over a two year period.