Arabs in Brazilian music

A talk should discuss Brazilian music from the 18th century to date. The event should take place in São Paulo, at the Arab-Syrian Cultural Centre.

The Arab influence on Brazilian music began with the arrival of Malê slaves in the country, in the XVIII Century. Although they were not Arab, they were Muslim and spoke the language very well. They also brought musical instruments that, in the beginning, were used to play religious music. That was just the beginning of a story that has already lasted three centuries. “The Arabs in Brazilian music”, by historian Silvia Antibas, at the Arab-Syrian Cultural Centre.
"The Arab immigrants, in turn, when they arrived, also had participation in music. Odalisques and the Arabian nights were covered by several different artists, as was the case with the Bedouins” said Silvia. Graduated in History from the Pontifical Catholic University in São Paulo, her specialisation is in Museums from the University of Avignon, in France, and she has worked as the director of the Department for Preservation of Museum Assets, connected to the Culture Secretariat of the State of São Paulo.

Among the most ancient examples of musicians of Arab origin, she mentions Nássara and David Nasser, who composed carnival tunes. She also recalls Wanderléa, from Jovem Guarda, and the Caymmi family, until reaching musicians like Waly Salomão, João Bosco, Zeca Baleiro, Almir Sater and Frejat. "Arabs have been included in all rhythms in Brazil. They naturally installed themselves in the Brazilian society and are now in Samba, Rock, Pop and instrumental” pointed out the historian.

Regarding modern Arab musicians, Silvia points out: "Currently, I believe that women are standing out, like Mariana Aydar, Bruna Caram and Marina Elali. This is a generation of women that are turning up and that are interesting. They are great singers,” he added.

Compiled by:Mayssa Wassouf