Dandara Odara and the Pragandaia Band
Click here for a sample of her music with Banda Relogio.
Dandara Odara was born in the Pelourinho neighborhood of the most African city in the Western Hemisphere, Salvador, Bahia, in northeastern Brazil. Salvador was Brazil’s capital city for its first two hundred years, and was the gateway city for Brazil’s African slave trade, explaining the heavy African influence in the region’s food, religion, culture, and especially its music.
Dandara’s early years in this culturally rich cosmopolitan stew exposed her to a plethora of musical styles as she learned her craft in the home city of such musical luminaries as Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso, João Gilberto, Dorival Caymmi, Gal Costa, Margareth Menzes and countless others. Inspired by the richness and sensuous swing of Bahia’s African-based culture, she has been able to create a mixture of many sources involving rhythms from the Caribbean, Africa, and Cuba.
As her career developed she sang with a number of local bands, and by the early 1990s she was the featured vocalist with the extremely popular Bahian Axé group Banda Relógio, singing on the band’s two CDs, as well as killing audiences at the 1995 Montreux Jazz Festival with her electrifying energy and commanding vocals. On that legendary “Brazil Night” in beautiful Switzerland, Dandara, along with Gilberto Gil and Jorge Ben Jor, had the crowd singing and dancing in the aisles the entire evening, inspiring the Festival’s director, Claude Nobs, to dub Dandara the “Brazilian Tina Turner”.
Sometimes also referred to as the Ebony Goddess, her deep, spicy singing voice and her vibrant dance and performance style make her a sensation on stage. Her exceptional voice and her contagious way of moving, dancing and jumping on the stage, has led to a fan base that spans much of the Western Hemispheres, both North and South. Why? Because no one can stand still during her performances!
Dandara has traveled all over Brazil, leading the legendary Trio Eletrico Carnaval groups of her hometown of Salvador, as well as mesmerizing packed concert halls from São Paulo to Rio. Dandara’s magic has also captivated crowds in Europe including such luminary cities as Paris, London, Lyon and Geneva.
During her 25 years as a top Brazilian performer, Dandara has shared the stage with the great names of Bahian Carnaval: Carlinhos Brown, Chiclete com Banana, Ivete Sangalo, Banda Eva, Ilê Aiyê and Olodum. Dandara is currently dividing her time between Salvador, Bahia and the San Francisco Bay Area.
Austin Samba, is Austin’s Samba School composed of approximately 160 local drummers and dancers trained in performing authentic renditions of Rio’s great carnaval groups, the escolas de samba. Director Robert Patterson, former leader of Sambaxê among other Austin Brazilian groups, spends many weeks each year in Brazil learning new drum techniques and rhythms which he transmits to the group’s members in long, dedicated hours of rehearsing. They offer a great taste of the amazing sound of Rio’s legendary carnaval parades. Each year they adopt a theme, usually taken from popular fairy tales, operas, and literature—for example The Wizard of Oz, Verdi’s Aida, Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance and Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. For 2014, they will present a show inspired by the classic 1959 film set in Rio’s Carnaval, Marcel Camus’ Black Orpheus.
The Samba School is composed entirely of enthusiastic volunteers who rehearse once a week for the 10 months preceding Carnaval. If you would like to get involved with this amazing Austin group, go to their website, here.
We have added an interesting dissection of Rio’s samba school drum sections, the baterias, explaining their makeup, their role in the parade, etc. Complete with photos and sound! Click here.