Great Brazilian Music

Soul and Samba-Soul

In the early 1960’s Jorge Ben was one of the first artists to mix samba with elements of rock music. He was also one of the first – if not the first – artists to mix samba with North American soul and funk. Between 1969 and 1976 he released a string of fantastic LPs, where he drew inspiration from “black” music, both of Brazil and North America, to create a completely new, unique and personal sound, always with samba as the main ingredient. Jorge Ben’s music during the 1970’s was described as samba-funk or samba-soul and with the adherence of other artists, it soon turned into a whole new genre and also part of the movement to strengthen Afro-Brazilian culture. Some of the most prominent artists of the samba-soul genre of the 1970’s were Di Melo, Banda Black Rio, Bebeto and Dom Salvador.

The godfather and great master of Brazilian soul, was definitely Tim Maia. He grew up in the district of Tijuca in Rio de Janeiro. When Tim Maia was just 16 years old, he managed to convince everyone in his circle of acquaintances that he had been accepted as an exchange stundet in the United States. He saved up enough money to buy a one way ticket to New York, where he got a work as a waiter and a pizza delivery boy in Manhattan. While in New York, Tim Maia came in contact with the early American soul music, and also started working as a singer in various local soul bands. Apart from absorbing the US music scene, Tim Maia also plunged into the North American drug culture, trying everything that was offered to him. After four years in the U.S, Tim Maia's stay in the country got a rather abrupt and ignominious end, when he and three of his American friends were arrested by police in Daytona Beach, Florida, while smoking marijuana in a stolen car. After a short time in a Daytona prison, Tim Maia was deported back to Rio de Janeiro.

Back in Rio de Janeiro, Tim Maia continued to perfect his musical skills, and by 1970 he was able to release his first LP. Tim Maia's music was clearly inspired by the Motown sound, but at the same time drew heavily from the Brazilian music tradition. His version of soul was thus far from a carbon copy of his North American source of inspiration. What Tim Maia instead found, was a seemingly simple and obvious way of incorporating US soul and funk into the existing Brazilian popular music (with clear elements of baião, bossa nova and samba). Anyone who listens to a song by Tim Maia, doesn’t get the impression that it is a forced mixture of soul and other music genres, but instead that it’s in fact the way soul music was always meant to sound. Apart from the fresh sound of his music, people loved Tim Maia’s deep, powerful voice, and after his first single Primavera, he instantly became one of the biggest stars of Brazilian popular music. Other great Brazilian soul musicians include Cassiano, from Pernambuco, and Hyldon, from Bahia.

Examples of Brazilian soul and samba-soul

Click to listen:

Oba, lá vem ela, Jorge Ben, 1971
Imunização Racional, Tim Maia, 1975
Mr Funky Samba, Banda Black Rio, 1977
Bom Senso, Tim Maia, 1975
Na rua, na chuva, na fazenda, Hyldon, 1976
Uma Vida, Dom Salvador e Banda Abolição, 1971
Kilariô, Di Melo, 1975
Orlandivo & João Donato, Onde anda meu amor, 1977
Você já morreu e esqueceu de se deitar, Silvinha, 1971
Zamba Bem, Marku Ribas, 1973
Mulher Brasileira, Jorge Ben, 1970

Guerreiro, Curumin, 2003




Banda Black Rio

Tim Maia

Jorge Ben