From the heart of Brazil's Afro-centric capitol Salvador, Olodum pumps out uplifting, conscious music,
with deep rhythms that strike a chord in everyone. Love reggae? Wait 'til you hear samba-reggae! Carnival
in Brazil is something that must be experienced to be believed. In Salvador, millions of people crowd
the streets for weeks, to dance, sing and watch blocos (groups) parade. Olodum formed as a bloco afro
in 1986, introducing a new rhythm, a mixture between Brazilian samba and Jamaican reggae, which has
long been popular in the region. The new samba-reggae sound was a huge sensation, and the song "Farao"
from their first LP "Egito Madagasgar" was played all over Brazil, later to be recorded by numerous
other artists to even greater success.
Producing about an album a year, Olodum favors themes of
Black consciousness and liberation, although some of their best songs like "Requebra" and "Girassol"
are just great dance tracks. "O Movimento" (1993), "Filhos do Sol" (1994) and "Liberdade" (1997) are
among the strongest albums. Imports, especially of Olodum's earlier recordings, can be scarce, but
compilations like "The Best of Olodum" are easier to find.
The sound of Olodum is that of a chorus of
surdos (deep bass drums), with snare drums snapping and the higher repique drums accentuating the upbeat
or reggae cadence. Once a very pure, ritualistic sound of only percussion and voice, Olodum over
the years added electric and brass instruments, producing what is today a world class sound whose
influence has spread to over 25 countries. Work with Paul Simon on his "Rhythm of the Saints" album
and with Michael Jackson on the video for "They Don't Really Care About Us" (as well as a remix of the song),
polished the international acumen of this group from the ghettoes of Brazil.
But despite the international notoreity, Olodum never forgets its roots. The touring group returns every year
for Carnival, expanding to its full size of over 300 drummers. And Olodum (whose name comes from Olodumare,
Yoruba name for the supreme diety) runs year round community programs in its neighborhood Pelourinho,
including arts, employment skills, and capoeira for street kids.