Actually it was Carlos's dad who as a break from his job first started taking guitar lessons from San Paolo guitarist, Benedito Moriera. But like-father-like-son, Carlos had also started to play. Although the elder Barbosa-Lima eventually gave up playing, Carlos continued his lessons and soon met and played for the Brazillian guitarist Luis Bonfá. That meeting put Carlos in touch with the Titan of Brazillian classical guitarists, Isais Savio. Under Isais's tutelage, Carlos progressed to where he was performing in public at age twelve. Then 1967, in his early twenties, Carlos played for the first time in America - and at Carnegie Hall no less.
One oft heard criticism of the classical guitar its limited repertoire. I mean how many times can we listen to Sevilla, Asturias, and Recuerdos de la Alhambra for crying out loud? Fortunately, Carlos's ability and background soon made him not only 1) a classical guitarist of international standing, but also 2) a jazz and folk musician who specialized in compositions from his Brazilian and Latin heritage. Although the average American listener may not be as familiar with the composers of the Brazilian classics (although Batucada by Carlos's mentor Isais has become a performing standard), when they listen to Carlos either live or by recording they will also be likely to be treated to portions of Cole Porter, George Gershwin, and Leonard Bernstein.
(Personal opinion: Nothing beats the Brazilian).
"A Tale of Two Continents: Carlos Barbosa-Lima", Mark Greenberg, Newsletter of the New York City Classical Guitar Society, April 22, 2008.