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Ile Aiye

Biography

Ile Aiye, which means "house of life" in Yoruba, is a traditional Afro-Brazilian performance troupe based in Curuzu, the largest black neighborhood in Salvador, Bahia. Every year the group performs with more than 120 drummers, singers, and dancers for the Carnaval celebration in Bahia. In 1975, due to intense community support, Ile Aiye became the first troupe of African descent to be permitted to perform at the event. Their music finds its roots in the candomble, or traditional Afro-Brazilian religion, for which music forms an important part of ritual. The songs consist of male and female vocalists leading call-and-response chants with a chorus over thundering polyrhythms of African origin. The rhythms form the backbone for the samba, Brazil's foremost national dance style. The lyrics, sung in both Yoruba and Portuguese, deal with themes of unity against racism, cultural preservation, and spirituality. This group's contribution to Afro-Brazilian culture and the decline of institutional racism cannot be overstated.

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