About Salvador

Brazil has the biggest black population of any country outside Nigeria.

Over 10 million African slaves were shipped to Brazil, six times more than to the United States.

Slaves were prohibited from practising their own faiths. To avoid persecution they gave Catholic names and figures to all their African gods, giving birth to the Afro-Brazilian religion of candomblé.

Riachâo sings and dances on table The rhythm Brazil is best known for is samba. So who better to talk to about its origins than Riachão, the original sambista? Every great Brazilian musician has worked with him: Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Chico Buarque, among others. Now in his eighties, Riachão is famous for improvising love songs. He's a crooner, a terrible flirt and he believes that samba has its roots in candomblé.


  • ALEX: Where does samba music come from, what are the roots?

  • RIACHÃO: Roots? Brazil was born here, in Bahia. This is where the Portuguese and the Africans first arrived. And the Africans brought their "little demons" to the slave quarters.

  • ALEX: What's the rhythm of candomblé? Show me how it changes to samba.

  • RIACHÃO: From this (CANDOMBLÉ DRUMMING) to this (SAMBA DRUMMING). You can see the difference.

  • ALEX: It's different. But it's similar.

  • RIACHÃO: It's similar.

  • ALEX: And one created the other.

  • RIACHÃO: (CANDOMBLÉ DRUMMING) Da doom doom doom. Da doom doom doom. This is the people dancing in a candomblé hall. And (this is) samba: (SAMBA DRUMMING)(SINGS) "I've already told you my friend / you're sulking about everything, you can't deny / your cheeks are of a good size / you've got a body like I've never seen / I'm only going to go from here when you and your big cheeks / decide to come with me." You see how samba goes, how it's different. And everybody loves it.


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