Born into a poor family in Maceió (capital of Alagoas, Northeastern Brazil), Djavan formed the group Luz, Som, Dimensão (LSD – Light, Sound, Dimension), playing Beatles' singles. In 1973, Djavan moved to Rio de Janeiro and started singing in local nightclubs. After competing in several festivals, he gained attention and recorded the album A Voz, o Violão e a Arte de Djavan in 1976. The album included the song Flor de Lis, which became one of his most memorable hits. Albums that followed included his other musical influence, African music, and additional hits followed, such as Açaí, Sina, and Samurai, which featured Stevie Wonder's harmonica. Among his best-known compositions are: Flor de lis, Meu Bem Querer, Oceano, Se..., Faltando um Pedaço, Esquinas, Te devoro, and Serrado.
Djavan's compositions have been recorded by Al Jarreau, Carmen McRae, The Manhattan Transfer, Aaron Goldberg, Loredana Bertè, Eliane Elias, Bob Baldwin, Lee Ritenour; and in Brazil by Gal Costa, Dori Caymmi and Nana Caymmi (son and daughter of Dorival Caymmi), Lenine, João Bosco, Chico Buarque, Daniela Mercury, Ney Matogrosso, Dominguinhos, Caetano Veloso, Maria Bethânia, and other artists. The 1988, Epic Records single, Stephen's Kingdom, featured a guest appearance from Stevie Wonder.