Longtime UT Collaborator Neguinho do Samba Dies
Posted: November 4, 2009
World-renowned Brazilian percussionist Antonio Luís Alves de Souza, known as Neguinho do Samba, died October 31, 2009, at the age of 54. In 2008, Neguinho spent two weeks in Austin for a residency coordinated by LLILAS Outreach that built upon the strong interest of UT faculty, students, and staff in his music and his social mission.
Neguinho is the father of the samba reggae, a unique Afro-Brazilian rhythm born from the traditions of his home state of Bahia. He was also the founder of Didá Educational and Cultural Association, a nonprofit organization with a mission to educate women and children through the arts. 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 was one of the founders of the Bloco Afro Ilê Aiyê and of Olodum, where he served as musical director for sixteen years. With Olodum, he played with David Byrne, Paul Simon, and Michael Jackson. With Simon, Olodum recorded The Rhythm of the Saints album in 1990 and participated in the subsequent worldwide tour.
In 1993, Neguinho founded Didá Educational and Cultural Association, through which he promoted transformation through the drum. 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. As he described it, "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."
LLILAS Outreach organized a unique two-week residency in Austin for Neguinho and Viviam de Jesus Queirós, Cultural Director of Didá. Integrating music workshops at UT and in the community, academic presentations, and meetings with students and faculty, this visit highlighted the long and fruitful relationship The University of Texas at Austin enjoyed with Neguinho. What once had been a special opportunity for a handful of faculty, staff, and students who traveled to Salvador became an open opportunity for the UT and Austin communities to learn from these master percussionists and important community leaders.
LLILAS Outreach Director Natalie Arsenault comments: "Neguinho's legacy can be seen not only in the music played by every percussion group in Salvador but also in the empowerment of women and children. We will miss him greatly, but we know that Didá will honor his memory by continuing their important work."