Funky Samba

Sambadá - Gente!
Sambadá – Gente!

Gente! (Sambadá, 2010)

On Gente!, Sambadá explores the vibrant and captivating music of Bahia (Brazil). The large group provides some of the finest and liveliest Brazilian music made in the United States. While most Americans have been exposed to the laid back and sometimes smooth jazzy bossa nova, Brazil has a rich tradition of fiery music that incorporates elements of its indigenous, African and European heritage. Sambadá has a fabulous rhythm section (every member of the band plays a percussion instrument) and its repertory includes samba, capoeira, MPB (Popular Brazilian Music), funk, rock, reggae and electronica.

SambaDa was founded by capoeira master Papiba Godinho. “Capoeira is my inspiration for everything in life,” says Papiba. “Everything I see.” The line-up has varied throughout the years. On Gente! there is a new female vocalist named Dandha da Hora, from Salvador, the capital of Bahia. Through her husband, Dandha met Papiba, who invited her to be a guest singer for SambaDá. The band quickly asked her to become a permanent member. “That was a scary moment for me!” Dandha remembers.  “It was a big transition in my life. And when I said ‘yes,’ it was too late to come back!” Now, she says, “I have my third family with SambaDá. Every time we go on the road, for several hours in a van, we know we are a big family: we shop together, we eat together, we cry together. We all crash in the same room together!

Dandha brought her African-rooted traditions to Santa Cruz (California) and every September, Dandha goes to the beach to lead the ritual in honor of Yemanja, the Yoruba Orixa of the ocean revered in Candomblé, her native religion. “The beach is really where our music is supposed to be,” reflects guitarist and drum machine programmer Will Kahn.

SambaDa recently traveled to Brazil, where they played for audiences in Sao Paulo and Salvador.  “I was afraid of the reaction of the people,” recalls Dandha. “We had played for Americans. It’s different when you go back to Brazil, where everybody speaks Portuguese.” Their performances received a warm welcome from the Brazilian public.

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