Samba Society brings Brazilian protest music to the Ford Theatres

Samba Society and special guests Thalma de Freitas, Tita Lima and Diana Purim. Photo @StudioMiCastro

Los Angeles-based music collective Samba Society has more than just vibrant Brazilian dance music to share with the audience in their upcoming show Brasil 70: Samba Soul Resistance, taking place at the Ford Theatres on Friday, August 4.

With a repertoire that features the artistic response to the oppressive military dictatorship that ruled Brazil from 1964 to 1985, the show highlights some of Brazil’s most compelling musical/political movements. “In an increasingly divided political climate where tolerance and freedom are under threat, not only in Brazil and the U.S. but all over the world, it’s time to reflect on powerful voices of protest”, says multi-instrumentalist and Samba Society’s leader, Beto González.

The show presents interpretations of influential musical genres of the 1970s, when Brazilian music experienced one of its most creative periods but also suffered intense repression. Many of the country’s most revered artists (Chico Buarque, Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil, among others) were forced into exile and had many of their songs censored in the name of “morality” and “good traditions”. Brasil 70 will also highlight the tremendous influence of international political movements and musical genres — such as Black Power, Pan-Africanism, funk and soul, rock ‘n’ roll, and reggae — on the music of Brazil.

Beto Gonzáles, leader of Samba Society. Photo: @StudioMiCastro

Divided into three acts, the show starts with “Os Anos de Chumbo” (Years of Lead), representing the darkest period of the dictatorship, when the regime heavily censored all media and many dissidents were tortured and banished. Required to submit all song lyrics to be vetted by a censorship board, artists employed creative metaphors to sidestep censors while making powerful social commentary. The second act, “Resistência” (Resistance), explores the increasingly defiant demands for social justice. Finally, “Abertura” (Opening), reveals the regime’s imminent downfall as the music reflected the promise of open elections and a democratic Brazil.

“Brazilian music is powerful and the language has a beautiful musicality, so it is natural that Brazilian music lovers are drawn to it purely for its sound. However, we want to go beyond the aesthetics of the music by adding some storytelling about socio-political movements in Brazil,” says González.

BRASIL 70: Samba/Soul/Resistance also brings to the stage special guests including Diana Purim, Tita Lima and Thalma de Freitas — who all hail from legendary lineage of Brazilian musical pioneers (Diana is the daughter of jazz legends Flora Purim and Airto Moreira; Tita is the daughter of Liminha, musical producer and former bass player of the groundbreaking Tropicália group Os Mutantes; and Thalma is the daughter of maestro Laércio de Freitas).

Listen to “Pequena Memória Para um Tempo Sem Memória” written and originally recorded by Luiz Gonzaga Jr. in 1980. The song is a deep reflection on the disappearances, torture, and exile of dissidents during the previous decade.

BRASIL 70: Samba/Soul/Resistance
Friday, August 4, 2017 at 8pm
Ford Theatres
2580 Cahuenga Blvd. East, Hollywood, CA 90068
Prices start at $25. Tickets are available at FordTheatres.org or 323-461-3673

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