Remembering the ancestors of samba-reggae … compliments of SambaReggaeTV
Mestre Neguinho do Samba – the father of samba-reggae. Today is the 10 year anniversary of his passing.
Pelourinho is perhaps the most famous neighborhood in Salvador. It is a vibrant city center where restaurants serving up delicious Bahian cuisine, artisanal products, baroque architecture, religion, cultural centers and the world-famous drummers of Olodum are all united here.
As the first capital of the Portuguese colony in America, Salvador established a ‘model’ for slave labor and erected gallows with various whipping posts in public areas of the city to expose and punish slaves. Originally installed in squares such as the Terreiro de Jesus and the current squares of Tomé de Sousa and Castro de Alves, as a symbol of the authority of justice, the gallows ended up lending their name, Pelourinho (which means ‘little post’ in English), to the area as a whole – perhaps the most integral part of the city’s historic center.
The construction of churches and manor houses in the city increased in the 17th century, a period in which the wealthy plantation owners demonstrated their aristocratic authority in the elaborate architecture of their houses. The buildings constructed by the religious and third orders and the sumptuous mansions around the Terreiro de Jesus, in the 18th century, accurately reflect the various social strata of the city. In the 19th century, business gradually took over the traditional houses of Taboão and thereafter throughout the city center. Numerous liberal professionals came to live and work in the area, and consequently the aristocrats moved to other parts of the city.
Pelourinho is also a great source of inspiration and a stage for both Brazilian and foreign artists, such as Caetano Veloso and Paul Simon; Michael Jackson once filmed scenes for a music video there. There are also some of the best restaurants and liveliest bars of the city.
The cultural richness accounts for the colorful diversity of Pelourinho. On Tuesdays, various shows are performed, such as the rehearsal of Olodum, which attracts thousands of people to the streets and squares of Pelourinho.
Samba-Reggae is a music genre that was created in Salvador, Bahia by Afro-Brazilians during the 1970s and 80s as an extension of the Black Pride movement. Through a mixture of Jamaican reggae and Brazilian samba, samba-reggae was born. The first bloco-afro to showcase samba-reggae was Ilê Aiyê, which was created in 1974 and was significant in returning samba to its African roots and identity while establishing a carnival parade in Salvador that Afro-Brazilians could call their own since Black Brazilians were not allowed to participate in many of the Rio samba schools for carnival in Rio de Janeiro.
In 1979, the second bloco, Olodum, was led by Mestre Neguinho do Samba. Mestre Neguinho do Samba was also a former drum leader of Ilê Aiyê and he he eliminated the old-style hand and stick style of playing the repinique drum which now plays fast beats with two sticks like the style played in the Afro-Brazilian religion of Candomblé. Following Olodum was Timbalada, which is a bloco-afro-that was directed by Carlinhos Brown who brought back the playing of the timbal drum, which was nearly extinct.
Because of these three groups, samba reggae bands such as Didá, Cortejo Afro, of course Batalá, and many others came into existence and created their own samba-reggae rhythms. Through samba-reggae (also known as Afro-Reggae), music genres such as Axé came along and until this very day samba-reggae inspires many people to create, live, and love.
Listen to the sounds and watch the images in this documentary about the birth of samba-reggae. There are no English subtitles, but the music speaks for itself.
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