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A great time for Brazilian culture in Ireland

Updated: 6 days ago

When Masamba was set up 30 years ago, access to Brazilian music and culture was almost the stuff of fantasy. Ireland at the time was essentially a monoculture – we had very few residents from other countries, and definitely very few citizens of colour. It was also the age before the internet and concepts such as digitised music, youtube and other electronic methods of sharing information. In the early 1990s, we got excited if someone managed to get a 10th generation cassette of Olodum or Ilê Aiyê.

 

Today, thankfully, things are different. We have a large and dynamic Brazilian community in Ireland, and connections between Ireland and Brazil have never been stronger. We at Masamba have a long history of inviting Brazilian artists to work with us here in Dublin, and we have worked hard to organise several study visits to Brazil, taking in Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Olinda/Recife and Sao Paulo along the way.

 

Here in Ireland, Masamba regularly connects and collaborates with ‘Irish’ Brazilian artists such as Kelly Baldonado, Alessandra Azeviche and Sensao Capoeira, and we even now have a Brazilian member of staff - Fernando Basqueroto! In the past, we have invited Brazilian musicians such as Monobloco, Mario Pam (Ilê Aiyê) and Mestre Jonas d’Oliveira (Modidade) to work with is and the wider percussion community. Of course, we can’t talk about musical collaborations without mentioning our long and storied partnership with Dudu Tucci, with whom we have worked since 1996. Dudu has visited Ireland many times to work with us and others. In addition, members of Masamba have visited Berlin to work with Dudu on training projects such as Conga Total and at the Karneval der Kulturen as part of the Afoxe Loni project.

 

To help celebrate our 30th anniversary*, we are renewing our contacts with Afro-Brazilian culture in several ways. Next month is a hotbed of activity with a masterclass with Ilê Aiyê early in the month, and a three day extravaganza whereby Dudu Tucci will return to Dublin to work with members of the Masamba Youth Project and with our adult band. There might even be a little pagode and a barbecue along the way!


In August, we are hoping to invite another long-standing friend of Masamba  - Claudio Santana (https://www.instagram.com/claudinhosantana_perc/) – who will deliver workshops and perform with us as part of the Big Bang Festival of Rhythm – more news as we have it.




 

In the wider community, it is a great time to experience Brazilian music in Dublin. Music fans can attend a pagode session almost any night of the week, with band such as the 353 Samba Club performing throughout the city. In recent times, we have seen performances from top level bands such as Bala Desejo and Naçao Zumbi at the Sugar Club, where the Choice Cuts crew have been doing amazing work to promote contemporary Brazilian culture (https://www.choicecuts.com) . Later this year, we will see BianaSystem (https://baianasystem.com.br), Ilê Aiyê (https://www.ileaiye.org.br) , Bixiga 70 (https://thesugarclub.com/tc-events/bixiga-70/) and our great friends Monobloco (https://www.instagram.com/monoblocooficial/) all playing in the capital. It is a sign of the vibrancy of the Brazilian cultural scene here, that these gigs are moving into larger venues such as the Academy and the Button Factory.

 

In 1994, any exposure to Brazilian culture was a rare and celebrated experience. In 2024, we are spoilt for choice and it is almost impossible to get to everything on offer. Masamba has been here for all of it, and we hope we have helped to lay the groundwork for such a great cultural scene!


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*Masamba's 30th Anniversary celebrations are supported by Dublin City Council Arts Office.

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