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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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14 Outstanding Black Women In Samba's History

These women built a legacy within Brazil's predominantly male (and often machista) samba scene.

More than music, samba is a social phenomenon setting the tone of Brazil's cultural identity for at least 100 years. A syncretic encounter of African and European music experiences, samba has also been influenced by multiple local sonorities from both the countryside and the seaside, in the Northeast and the Southeast. While Bahia is commonly acknowledged as the legitimate samba crib, it was in the cosmopolitan, urban Rio de Janeiro where, in the early 20th century, samba gained shape and echoed across Brazil and overseas.

Today, the world reveres samba and its 100-year-old tradition. Many people, however, still ignore the female legacy for this (predominantly male and often machista) music culture. Whether as entrepreneurs, managers, producers, singers, or composers, women have been actively present in samba since its early days. If it weren't for women, samba, as we know it, would not exist.

Here are 14 Black female singers and composers who have transformed Rio's urban samba scene since the beginning of its history.

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