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11 Afro-Brazilian Percussionists You Need To Know

These Brazilian percussionists have broken sound frontiers, invented new instruments and thrilled musical giants such as Michael Jackson and Sarah Vaughan.

It isn't rare to forget that excellent drummer's name. While singers, band vocalists, and even composers are venerated among amateur music audiences, percussionists very often go unnoticed. Perhaps because percussionists are not usually the protagonists on stage, their identities — or even their importance — sometimes fall from the audience's sight.

But when it comes to Brazil's African-influenced music cultures, percussion is by no means secondary. To get into the roots of Afro-Brazilian music is to understand that percussionists such as Ubirany, Naná Vasconcelos and Wilson das Neves — are on the same level of importance as internationally-famous singers like Elza Soares. The "cozinha" (or the "kitchen", how the ensemble of percussion instruments is popularly called in the samba universe) has always grounded, guided and defined the Afro-Brazilian music experience.

Below are 11 percussionists that enlighten the Brazilian and international music scene with unpaired rhythmic inventiveness and sensibility.

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