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One of the most famous percussion bands in the world, if not the most known, is Olodum from Bahia, Brasil. At the time this photo was taken in 1992, in Liverpool, England; Olodum would perform with over thirty percussionists. It was after American musician Paul Simon released the album “Rhythm of the Saints” which had a mesmerising tune played by Olodum, “Obvious Child.” Before that Olodum was mostly known in Brasil but this record introduced them to the rest of the world. Today, they are an institution.
The rhythm being played here by some of these members of Olodum is known as Samba Reggae; a fusion of Brazilian Samba, Jamaican Roots Reggae and African rhythms. The sound that comes out of these guys is absolutely amazing. It can make even the most serene, sad, and nonchalant to smile, dance and shake their bum, bum, bum…
Olodum (pronounced Olo-dun) is a Yoruba word, from Nigerian people; a short for Oludumaré. According to Wikipedia (the free encyclopaedia), Olodumaré, is the Sky Father creator of the universe, white, androgynous and female, associated with bones, clouds or brain.
The band was formed in 1979.
To understand Olodum one must also try to learn what Bahia is all about. Bahia is where the highest concentration of black people in Brasil live. It is in Bahia, whose capital city is known as Salvador, where most African slaves were taken. According to historical sources, Bahia had the highest amount of African “items” (as slaves were treated) in the whole of Diaspora. In other words in this region were the largest number of Africans out of the continent dumped, used as labouring donkeys, tortured and punished for hundreds of years.
However, Bob Marley sings: “While one door is closed, many more are open.” (Coming in from the cold).
Out of the suffering of these African Brazilians was born Capoeira, the Brazilian martial arts, dance and music. Today every single aspect of Brazilian music starts or has a footprint from Bahia. If you visit Bahia you will definitely see Olodum. And if you do not have that opportunity, you might hear them perform at any corner of the world. It will make you appreciate your heart beat. For that is what drums are. Multiple, grooving heart beats.