Neguinho de Samba

the father of Salvador Carnaval's Samba-Reggae Rhythms

Neguinho de Samba which means Little Black Samba Master is how Neguinho was known by all of Salvador.

His dream was to live the music and he succeeded for himself, as well as his generation, his city and and so many generations present and future. Finding beauty and truth in identifying as an African in prideful resistance his Afro blocos conquered the Carnival of Salvador, and the force of his new percussive combinations are sounds that still echo around the world and particularly in Salvador's Pelourinho historic district. 

Born in 1954 in the region of the Dique do Tororo, Neguinho Samba is the 3rd of 14 siblings.The son of a drummer and a washerwoman, he learned to play percussion on the aluminum washbasins used by his mother, and began his musical career playing in samba schools in the city of Salvador.

 He assembled his first percussion group with boys with fellow 11 and 12 year olds in, the neighborhood where he lived, playing drums made from milk cans and grocery bags.  At age 13, he began playing in blocos of carnival, with Coruja, Filhos da Liberdade, and Ritmistas do Samba

As a young adult Neguinho variously found work as an electrician, iron worker and street peddler, all the while tapping rhythms.

Neguinho  realized that drums could be fashioned for favela children from scrap metal. Iron construction rods could be formed into exoskeleton drum struts. Other pieces of scrap metal could be used to form 13 inch rings to secure the struts at the top and bottom of each drum.

Neguinho found that a drum with five struts was good for samba but one with eight was best for timbau, a drum which came to be associated with Timbalada. Neguinho organized a group that developed a process for building drums in his father's workshop. The availability of affordable drums contributed to the revival of Salvador's most historic district, Pelourinho, where the Portuguese had auctioned slaves.

The First Bloco Afro:  Ilê Aiyê
Salvador Carnaval in the mid-20th century had many samba schools and still more informal blocos yet they mainly performed Rio-style samba and black Brazilian participation was minimal.


 In 1974,  Neguinho helped found the Ile Aye, where he began making instruments for the bloco with the help of his father, the blacksmith Jacinto Souza, and stayed there for eight years. His artistic career has emphasized the importance of the bloco to affirm its black identity. He said the idea of creating the Ilê came after two women, and Neusa Marinalva were blocked at a dance carnival of Bahia Athletic Association because they were black.

The first "bloco afro," was Ilê Aiyê, which was founded in 1974 and paraded in the 1975 Carnival, with a new music that consciously tried to be blend of older samba and reggae rhythms. Ilê Aiyê's founders revered the work of Bob Marley, and added elements of reggae to the older, Bahian style of samba called samba de roda which had later evolved into the faster paced Rio-style samba. The tempo was slowed and the cuica and pandeiro were eliminated as too high-pitched percussion instruments associated with the Rio Carnival.

 "At that time he [Neguinho] concluded that each bloco should have a distinctive rhythm, and he devised the first rhythm uniquely identified with Ilê. The rhythm of Ilê came to him as he thought about the residents of Curuzu, where Ilê was formed and which it represented, and the "mother" of Ilê, the mother of the bloco's founder who was and still is a leader of a famous Afro-Brazilian religion Candomblé 'terreiro' there. The Ilê rhythm reminded him of the time of slavery and the backbreaking labor of slaves to create "sisal" fibers. It also reminded him of Candomblé, which emerged from behind the façade of Catholicism and is not-infrequently co-opted by white Catholics who identify with the characteristics of a particular orixá (or saint). Neguinho saw from the dance movements of the members of the Ilê bloco that they "fit" with the rhythm he had created for them, so that they could "find" their own identities, recover something of their African heritage, in it. ---Phillip Wagner  [ more ]

Many other afro blocos were founded soon afterwards, and all played the same rhythmic pattern which is mainly credited to Ile Aye's musical director Neguinho do Samba. At the time, it was known simply as "the music of the afro blocos" or "the rhythm of Ile Aiye".

Musically, Ilê Aiyê's major innovations to samba were the

  •  addition of a new 4th surdo playing rapid rolls with two mallets,
  • the addition of a reggae backbeat played by the snare drums (caixas), and
  • the creation of a new clave pattern that is a blend of samba-de-roda clave with a reggae backbeat.

They retained many aspects of samba, such as samba's 3 surdos, and a repinique pattern that was played with hand and stick. Bloco Afros were also a growing cultural statement, highlighting African heritage and black pride through music, dance theater, and art.


Following the success of 1986's Graceland, on which he worked principally with South African musicians, Simon broadened his interests in diverse forms of music from around the world. He turned to Latin America for the musicians and rhythms which characterize much of this album, partnering with Afro-Brazilian superstars Grupo Cultural Olodum, masters of the heavily percussive sub-style of samba called Batuque or Batucada.
In 1990 Paul Simon arrived in Bahia to shoot a video for a song from an album of his, called “The Obvious Child.”  This video was done in the Pelourinho the historic old city of Salvador. The following year Paul Simon invited Olodum to play in New York’s Central Park. It was the first of many international
The Obvious Child by Paul Simon
percussion by Olodum arranged by Neguinho de Samba
I'm accustomed to a smooth ride
Or maybe I'm a dog who's lost its bite
I don't expect to be treated like a fool no more
I don't expect to sleep through the night
Some people say a lie's a lie's a lie
But I say why
Why deny the obvious child?
According to Neguinho; Paul Simon, when he heard the sound of drums of the boys from Olodum, he said: "I was with Bob Marley and told him that his music was the music of the world. Agora eu digo a você que a sua música é a do mundo. Now I say to you that your music is in the world. Você poderia se juntar ao Bob Marley (à música) e dizer que essa música é samba-reggae”.

Why deny the obvious child?

And in remembering a road sign
I am remembering a girl when I was young
And we said
These songs are true
These days are ours
These tears are free
And hey
The cross is in the ballpark
The cross is in the ballpark

We had a lot of fun
We had a lot of money
We had a little son and we thought we'd call him Sonny
Sonny gets married and moves away
Sonny has a baby and bills to pay
Sonny gets sunnier
Day by day by day by day

I've been waking up at sunrise
I've been following the light across my room
I watch the night receive the room of my day
Some people say the sky is just the sky
But I say
Why deny the obvious child?
Why deny the obvious child?

Sonny sits by his window and thinks to himself
How it's strange that some rooms are like cages
Sonny's yearbook from high school
Is down from the shelf
And he idly thumbs through the pages
Some have died
Some have fled from themselves
Or struggled from here to get there
Sonny wanders beyond his interior walls
Runs his hand through his thinning brown hair

Well I'm accustomed to a smoother ride
Maybe I'm a dog that's lost his bite
I don't expect to be treated like a fool no more
I don't expect to sleep through the night
Some people say a lie is just a lie
But I say the cross is in the ballpark
Why deny the obvious child?

Stocks and Whipping post at Norton, Bridgnorth [ Shropshire Newspapers] In England, the practice of whipping was considered a just and humane punishment by the authorities until it was finally discontinued in 1948.


Rhythm of the Saints

As an Album its stature has stood the test of time and continues to grow over two decades later Rhythm of the Saints, is now being called by some, Paul Simon's best ever.
 The Obvious Child - The Olodum Single/Video remains its most distinguished and recognized work

With Paul Simon, Olodum recorded The Rhythm of the Saints album in 1990 and participated in the subsequent worldwide tour.
"But Simon deserves a bit more credit than just being the voice in front of the songs; he produced the album, putting it together in more than one sense. More so than almost any other album from 1990, the original CD issue of The Rhythm of the Saints still sounds fantastic—dating from before the loudness wars, with a luscious sense of space that allows your ears to follow the multiple rhythms and melodies weaving through every song. Simon's decision to have the rhythms form the heart and soul of the music and yet remain glowingly soft instead of hard-edged was at first baffling but quickly becomes one of the record's best features --- Ian Mathers
 "But great art is judged by time as much as anything else, and I believe that this is a fascinating and moving record, whose subtle and shifting rhythms, melodies, harmonies, and chords represent perhaps the best admixture of Brazilian, African, and American sensibilities in the history of pop music" --- Fred McGhee
"The Obvious Child", by Paul Simon, whose music video featured Olodum, was the only single to receive substantial radio play from the Rhythm of the Saints album
“O Canto da Cidade” / The song of the city
  • “I am the color of this city
  • The song of this city is mine”
Neguinho do Samba is "the god of percussion in Brazil."

Carlinhos Brown [more]

Surdos derive from urban centers, and are traditionally made of leftover industrial materials, like sheetmetal, bolts, and steel rods. As the need arose, different sizes developed, each drum with its own name and role in the bateria. From one basic design came the repinique, repique de mão, and the surdo.

The name surdo has been used as a general term for all drums of this type, but more recently specifies the large, cylindrical  bass drum in Brazilian music. It literally means "deaf" of "deaf man" in Brazilian Portuguese, because of huge sound wave it can produce and propel down your ear canal.  



Ile Aiye sets out from its year round headquarters, several miles out from downtown, very much as the Afro-Brazilianile-aye bloco of a particular community. The neighborhoods of Liberdade define their historical community in the rituals of departure. In those songs, led by young musicians trained in Ilê Aiyê?s neighborhood school, the community celebrates a proud local history and tells itself and the city that it is on the move for a brighter future for all Afro-Brazilians.
Truth is the light
So you never give up the fight --- Bob Marley
"join in this year?s bloco songs that I have to learn over the hours of the parade but that have clearly long since been rehearsed by everyone else: songs of identity, of the struggles and achievements of Afro Brazilians here in Salvador and all Africans of the diaspora, songs of love and longing and hope." ---Rowan Ireland [more]



Olodum (pronounced oh-lo-doon) was founded as a Bloco Afro in 1979 and by 1986 they had established themselves as the premier performers of a new genre of music. Neguinho joined  Olodum in 1982 where he remained for 16 years, encouraging cultural and educational development of their students.  "In these blocos, I had the opportunity to educate through music, boys who were social vulnerable and play with various artists abroad. he said to  Andrew Holland shortly before he passed away.

 Mestre Neguinho do Samba,  introduced a key innovation: the old, samba-derived, style of playing the repinique, with hand and stick, was eliminated, and the repiniques switched instead to playing rapid rolls with two wood or plastic rods. This style of playing is derived from candomble, an Afro-Brazilian religion. The resulting rapid-fire clatter of the repiniques, along with the distinctive driving roll of the 4th surdo, gives samba-reggae an unmistakable sound.

During the carnival of 1986, this new style of music, known as samba-reggae, made its debut. Olodum had combined the traditional samba with sounds from a number of other Caribbean music genres, including: merengue, salsa, and reggae. The toques, or "drumming patterns", that categorized the samba-reggae beat was composed of "a pattern in which the surdo bass drums divided themselves into four or five interlocking parts. Against this, the high-pitched repiques and caixes filled out the pattern with fixed and repeated rhythms in a slow tempo, imitating the shuffle feel of reggae."

In 1986, the phrase "samba-reggae" was used for the first time to describe the music of Olodum, and, by extension, of the other afro blocos as well. Over time, most afro blocos converted to Olodum's style of playing the repinique. In the 1990s, Ilê Aiyê finally converted to the Olodum two-rod style.

Michael Jackson - They Don't Care About Us
(Olodum Version)

Neguinho Samba appears in the video for Michael Jackson with a blue shorts, a striped shirt and a yellow beret governing the drummers as the king of pop sings in the foreground. File:Michael Jackson The Way You Make Me Feel.jpg
Spike Lee Michael Jackson Neguinho de Samba
Director King of Pop Music Arranger


In the 1990s, a style of pop music that was influenced by samba-reggae in its creation, is known as Axé Music (ah-SHEH)

Samba-reggae has given rise to a style of African-influenced dance derived from Afro-Brazilian and candomble dance moves. In a social setting, samba-reggae dances tend to be done in a follow-the-leader fashion, with a few skilled dancers initiating moves in a line in front of the crowd, and the whole crowd then following along. In addition, samba-reggae drummers often dance while they drum. The third- and fourth-surdos do short choreographies, using their mallets to emphasize arm moves. Most dramatically, the fundos (first and second surdos) frequently take center stage to do elaborate, showy mallet lifts and throws, and tossing their huge drums high overhead.
Didá Dance and Percussion School:
Didá Dance and Percussion school began with the proceeds from Neguinho' collaboration with Paul Simon Rhythm of the Saints being put into buying a building rather than a car as Simon had suggested. According to Débora de Souza, one of his daughters, when Mr. Simon first heard the new samba-raggae style, he hired the band to play with him on the album “Rhythm of the Saints” in 1990 and Mr. de Souza to perform with him in Central Park the following year
 Many activities of the "banda feminina" of the school happen on streets of Pelourinho, which give the children the opportunity to explore and demonstrate what they have learned and share it with others.

The Dida Bloco de Carnival came out soon after their founding for a 1994 Carnaval debut, nearly 200 women participated, and discovered an avenue for their hopes. They took the route from the Pelourinho to the Campo Grande wearing red overalls and yellow turbans, symbolizing gypsy woman. Neguinho surprised the group by finding a powerful trio electrico to make their debut  memorable and successful.

Samba-reggae is not just the most infectious rhythm to be created for Carnaval at the dawn of the third millennium but also represents a successful effort by black Brazilians to develop a Carnival parade music highlighting the deep roots to the rhythms of Africa this percussion music represents. Their Carnaval groups were as much about mutual aid and community development as fun, dance and music. 

A shared beliefs among the Salvador Carnaval participants is that their annual efforts reimagine and strengthen their community through the revelry of carnival and the magic of a time outside of normal time. The Carnaval performance is an event celebrating communal life, and a vital product of the year's cycle, reflecting the best offering the community can give to their city. Like the annual cycle of life, these performances are made anew every year with new themes, new songs and rhythms and are as much for each other as the out of town visitors. 
Neguinho de Samba is buried at
Neguinho de Samba's funeral procession, on Nov. 3,2009  was followed by 4,000 people dancing and singing his songs. Olodum and Filhos de Gandhi, were part of the procession as was the body of the musician. The procession left at 10am, the headquarters

Jardim da Saudade

of Didá, accompanied by 50 female members of the band and  passed by the headquarters of the Filhos de Gandhi and Olodum in the Pelourinho, where he was received with honors. The musician Carlinhos Brown attended the funeral and helped carry the coffin of Neguinho Samba. From there, the procession continued to the Municipal Square, where the body was taken in a truck for burial at the cemetery Jardim da Saudade. Around 17 hours, Didá played a musical tribute to their founder.


Neguinho do Samba (? - October 31, 2009), whose real name was Antonio Luis Alves de Souza, was a Brazilian percussionist and musician. Samba was the founder of Olodum, an internationally known cultural group based in Salvador, Brazil. Samba, a resident of Pelourinho, was considered to be the "father" of samba reggae in Bahia.

Neguinho directing Olodum for Michael Jackson's

They Don't Care About Us  


In 1995, Olodum appeared in the music video for Michael Jackson's single, They Don't Care About Us. Samba also appeared as a musician on Paul Simon's album, The Rhythm of the Saints, which was released in 1990.

Neguinho do Samba died of heart failure on October 31, 2009, at the age of 54. Samba was buried in the Jardim da Saudade cemetery in Salvador. One of many similar groups in the city (and elsewhere in Brazil), it offers cultural activities to young people, largely centered around music; it also offers theatrical productions and other activities. Founded in 1979, its stated aims are to combat racism, to encourage self-esteem and pride among Afro Brazilians, and to fight for civil rights for all marginalized groups.

Olodum is widely credited with developing the music style known as samba reggae and for its active participation in carnaval each year. Neguinho do Samba, the lead percussionist, created a mix of the traditional Brazilian samba beat with merengue, salsa, and reggae rhythms for the Carnaval of 1986. This became known as samba-reggae. This "bloco afro" music is closely tied to its African roots, as seen through its percussion instruments, participatory dancing and unique rhythm . It also directly draws from many Caribbean cultures, like Cuba and Puerto Rico.
Didá was the first percussion group in Salvador to include—and specifically focus on—women. It is through Didá that Neguinho began to collaborate with students and faculty at The University of Texas. Over the years, he regularly welcomed university visitors, researchers, and volunteers into Didá to showcase its projects and promote its mission.

I knew Neguinho (everybody in Bahia knows Neguinho!) for a long time, but got to know him much better in 1995 during a few months when I was there doing field work for my dissertation. His warmth, caring and concern for the people of Bahia were amazing. His dream of building a music school was realized, and his work with the all women’s percussion band Dida’ was revolutionary.”

It is such a loss. We are, however, fortunate to have many “filhos” of Neguinho. Not only his actual children, but his musical children as well. O rufar dos tambores nao para. We will all miss him sorely.

Axé ---Judith [more at]

Neguinho do Samba-Reggae [ Translate this page ]Foi no Olodum que Neguinho do Samba teve a oportunidade de tocar com artistas de ... Você poderia se juntar ao Bob Marley (à música) e dizer que essa música é ... Mais tarde, Paul Simon prometeu dar-lhe um carro importado, mas Neguinho ... -

The Pelorigno
In the 1990s, a major city project cleaned up and restored the old historic center or Pelourinho. Now, the Pelourinho is a cultural center, and the very heart of Salvador's tourist trade featuring colonial-era buildings, broad plazas and many grand cathedrals marking the time when Salvador was the most important city in South America. Salvador was the capital of Brazil from 1552 to 1763 and the busiest, richest port in the South Atlantic during this time. Perched on a cliff high above the its beautiful blue bay are cobblestone streets flanked by colorful buildings and the nation's largest collection of colonial architecture. The sheer number of grand decaying Churches has yet to find a solution but the Pelorigno today has been rescued from its more recent past as the city's red-light district and is the heart of the thriving visitor industry centered on Afro-Brazilian culture.

"Pelourinho" means pillory or whipping post. And Salvador's pelourinho stood at the top of the sloping Largo do Pelourinho. The fourth and final point in a journey which began in the city's first open market in the Praça da Feira (today known as Praça Municipal or Praca de Se -- the open square at the top of the Elevador Lacerda). The pelourinho stood at the market's center.

Then sometime between 1602 and 1607 during the Governorship of Dom Diogo Botelho -- the pelourinho was moved by governor's decree to the Terreio de Jesus. Just around the corner from Praca de Se, you will enter Terreiro de Jesus. The Museu Afro-Brasiliero and Igrega de Sao Francisco are the two most prominent attactions flanking this square.

 Whippings produce unholy sounds and the Terreiro de Jesus was the site of the Jesuits' church and school. So it was removed again and repositioned at the bottom of the Ladeira de São Bento (where Praça Castro Alves is now located).

Again it was removed, for the final time, in 1807, and taken to the Largo do Pelourinho  which would come to bear its name. It would stand there for another 28 years. Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Rosário dos Pretos, a church built by the slaves, for the slaves. They weren't allowed to worship at other churches and at this church they maintained many of their African traditions and languages.

Today these are all famous points for public gatherings in the City of Happiness especially during the Carnaval.



Didá Escola de Música
  • Dida was born in a place so blessed
  • A place where our honored humanity
  • Lived in a slavery
  • Which grew big claws and fought big fights

(from the song Dida de Salvador by Neguinho do Samba)

Didá Music School was founded on December 13th, 1993, by maintainer and mentor, Maestro Neguinho do Samba. Dida is a non-profit cultural institution  that aims to improve the quality of lives through music and arts. The school W is based in transformational musical teaching and serious educational work. The classes that are offered for the community are: percussion, string instruments, keyboard, singing and capoeira, Afro-Brazilian dance theatre and art.

The women are given an opportunity to become educated on their origin, build self-esteem, and wide their perspectives for a better future. This can mean relearning pre-conceived notions about their "place" in society

Dida often portrays the famous Brazilian slave Anastacia who was enslaved and cruelly treated by her owners. Anastacia stoically bears these traumas and treats all people with love. Anastacia is believed to have possessed tremendous healing powers and to have performed miracles. Eventually, she is punished by her owners by being forced to wear a muzzle-like facemask that prevented her from speaking with a heavy iron collar. Reasons vary from the mistress jealous of her beauty or refusal to submit to her master's amorous advances. After a prolonged period of suffering, Anastacia died of tetnus from the collar and as she passed she healed the son of her Master and Mistress and forgave their cruelty as she died.

Dida Banda Feminina: A Mulher Gera O Mundo
Label: BMG
Release date: 1997


The Dida bloco Carnaval themes generally relate to women.  In the year of 2000 the bloco grew and brought together with children, families and friends and became one of the Carnaval's largest at 6000 people.

A decade later, on October 31st, 2009 tragedy stuck when the leader, patron and founder  Neguinho do Samba passed away unexpectedly. stricken with a heart attack at age 54.


Didá Escola de Música
Rua Joao de Deus, 19 Pelorinho
Salvador - Bahia
Tel.: 0055-71-321-2042
Brazilian Blocos Afros are community organizations which represent the personality, and address the needs of the residents who live there. The blocos are a socio-evolutionary product of black desire to protest oppression during the worst years of military dictatorship in the 1960's and 1970s.

The emphasis of Olodum and Didá, which Neguinho later founded, is on inculcating dignity and self-esteem, encouraging self help and fostering self reliance". The approach has been remarkably successful in many ways and worthy of any genuine offer of assistance which does not expect something in return.

Phillip Wagner  [ more ]

 Volunteers from more than 40 countries have worked at and donated to Didá through the Rhythm of Hope nonprofit  [] founded by Mr. Wagner
Escrava_Anastacia A slave woman of African descent, Anastacia is depicted as possessing incredible beauty, having piercing blue eyes and wearing an oppressive facemask. Not officially recognized by the Catholic Church, Anastacia is still an important figure in popular Catholic devotion throughout Brazil. She is also venerated by members of the Umbanda and Spiritist traditions. She has also been portrayed in Brazil in books, radio programs and a highly successful television miniseries bearing her name.
Interview with Director Vivian Caroline de Jesus Queirós by Phillip Wagner
Girl Beat [2004] takes us into the lives of three members of the all-girl music group Banda Dida a film by the San Francisco Bay Area's Suzanne Girot  and Renato Frota
Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our mind.
 ---Bob Marley
 "The work that Didá does causes the community to evolve, to know its rights and the rights of others, its importance and the importance of others,
 "so that we can have a society with more equality and freedom, understanding that anything is possible when there is respect.
"We all have the right to eat well, live well, and have a good education."
 is how Neguinho de Samba described Dida's mission.
“Life is one big road with lots of signs. So when you riding through the ruts, don't complicate your mind. Flee from hate, mischief and jealousy. Don't bury your thoughts, put your vision to reality
  • Bob Marley
    "Wake Up and Live!” on
    Survival (1979)



"Dona Canô"- (Daniela Mercury, Mariene de Castro & Banda Dida)

Dona Cano is a samba-reggae anthem written by the father of the rhythm. Neguinho do Samba. Remembered here at  for his monumental contributions to percussion at the close of the 20th century. He passed away on October 31st 2009 at the age of 54. Banda Didá, is an all-female Afro-reggae band that that represents a larger program that uses the power of drums to overcome percieved limitations of race, class, and gender.  Didá is a Yoruba word meaning "power of creation."

Neguinho is survived by seven children and six grandchildren.