Tag: Afro Brazilian
Several people have asked me about blackness and race in Brazil. I thought you would find this interesting. Below is a description of the documentary Ebony Goddess: Queen of Ilê Aiyê, clip above.
“Ebony Goddess: Queen of Ilê Aiyê follows three women competing to be the carnival queen of Ilê Aiyê, a prominent and controversial Afro-Brazilian group with an all-black membership. The selection is based on Afro-centric notions of beauty, in counterpoint to prevailing standards of beauty in Brazil, a country famous for slim supermodels and plastic surgery. Contestants for the title of Ebony Goddess dress in flowing African-style garments, gracefully performing traditional Afro-Brazilian dances to songs praising the beauty of black women. For Aurelina, Joseane and Talita, the competition for the title of Ebony Goddess is part of a profound and personal search for identity and self-esteem. The figure of the Ebony Goddess, representing a “black is beautiful” view of black women, resonates with women of African descent in Brazil, the United States and throughout the world of the African Diaspora…Following the three candidates’ daily lives, dance rehearsals, and interactions with each other, Ebony Goddess: Queen of Ilê Aiyê shows the contest’s role in reshaping the idea of beauty in a society in which African descendants constitute the majority of the population but is pervaded by Euro-centric concepts of body esthetics. The concept of the Ebony Goddess creates an alternative view of the black female body as beautiful, desirable, and talented, promoting social change at its most basic level: the individual sense of self.”
Selected Resources on Race in Brazil
Ebony Goddess: Queen of Ilê Aiyê (Documentary Website)
Ilê Aiyê (website in Portuguese language)
“What Does the Brazil Census Tell us About Race?” (Published December 6, 2011 by Jefferson M. Fish, Ph.D. in Looking in the Cultural Mirror)
“Brazil 2010 census shows changing race balance,” (November 16, 2011, BBC News)
Video: “Brazil: A Racial Paradise?” – full episode from PBS “Black in Latin America” series (51 min. 25 sec., 2011)
Daniela Mercury, \”Ilê Pérola Negra,\” (Sol da Liberdade, RCA, 2000).
Daniela Mercury is one of the major stars of MPB, Brazilian popular music. The lyrics to this song praise black culture as demonstrated through the song and tradition of Bahia\’s first Bloco Afro, Ilê Aiyê. Ilê Aiyê was founded in Bahia on November 1st 1974 with the mission to preserve, value, and expand Afro Brazilian culture.
Download: Ilê Pérola Negra
Found this on baixafunda, an excellent music blog (in Portuguese)
Brazilian rhythms meet afrobeat, funk, & soul! (I only had time to put a few of my favorite tracks up so far).
“Exploding out of the rich cultural melting-pot of London’s underground music scene comes the half-Brazilian, half-British, Afro-Brazilian Funk sound of Saravah Soul.”
The album is on the London-based TruThoughts label.
My friend and dance partner Larisa introduced me to a Brazilian street vendor from Cachoeira, Bahia up in Harlem near the Apollo Theater on Sunday. He recommended a greatest hits compilation containing songs by one of his favorite Brazilian vocalists, Clara Nunes. I included links to some of my favorite tracks on the album below (click on song title to listen):
Clara Nunes was a factory worker when she decided to compete in a music contest, placing third at the finals held in São Paulo in 1959. She got a day-job at a radio station in Belo Horizonte (capital of Minas Gerais, Southeast Brazil), and sang in nightclubs.
In 1965, Clara moved to Rio de Janeiro, recording boleros (Spanish music made for dancing) and samba songs on her first album. After a few LPs featuring assorted styles, she signed her name as a samba vocalist in the 70s. In 1974, her album sold approximately 300,000 copies, thanks to the hit samba “Conto de Areia” (Romildo/ Toninho). It was a remarkable number then, helping put down the common idea that women weren’t big record sellers and stimulating the companies to invest in other female samba musicians, like Alcione, who made her first album in ’75, and Beth Carvalho, hired by RCA in ’76.
The following albums transformed her into one of the three samba queens of the ’80s, along with the two above-mentioned musicians. In the second half of the decade, she would release one album every year, all of them selling well and featuring historic tracks like “Juízo Final” (Nelson Cavaquinho/ Élcio Soares), “Coração Leviano” (Paulinho da Viola) and “Morena de Angola” (Chico Buarque).
Clara was also famous for songs crafted upon the rhythms of Candomblé, her African-Brazilian religion, and for her typical costumes, as she always dressed in white and wore lots of necklaces and African beads. She died prematurely, after a botched surgery, causing a popular outcry.
(Source: National Geographic Music, http://worldmusic.nationalgeographic.com/view/page.basic/artist/content.artist/clara_nunes_16312/en_US)