Samba is one of Brazil's most popular music and dance styles. In many ways, it is symbol of the country itself. In the worlds of one of modern samba's main artists, Seu Jorge: “Samba is our truth, our peculiarity … and our flag”. When people today hear the word samba, they often think of the festival of Carnaval and the city of Rio de Janeiro. But there are many different types of samba, and these styles differ throughout Brazil.
Today, one of the most popular types of samba comes from Bahia, a state in the eastern part of the country. It’s called samba reggae. From the 16th to 18th centuries, over tree million Africans were brought to Brazil to work as slaves. Today in Bahia, 80 percent of the population is black. Samba of this region of Brazil is heavily influenced by African rhythms. Modern samba reggae is a mix of Rio samba, African drumbeats, and Jamaican reggae. It’s a bit slower than Rio samba, and it is usually performed in large groups – sometimes with over 200 drums playing at one time!
Bahia’s most famous drumming group is Olodum. Many say the group invented the samba reggae sound. But Olodum is not only a musical group. It’s members also created local organizations to help young people and the poor. Every year, in the city of Salvador in Bahia, the lively sound of samba reggae fills the streets during Carnaval – one of the world’s greatest parties.
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