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By Kalamu ya Salaam of Kalamu.com

Sunday, May 30, 2010.

Brazil. Samba. Samba before Bossa. Samba. After Bossa, Samba. Always Samba.

More of us have heard Bossa Nova more than Samba, especially if we listen to jazz, but the “new beat” was based on a version of the eternal beat - Samba. Brazil’s heartbeat fuels the people’s musical soul.

Samba is music when Brazilians have nothing else. Samba is everything to people with little or nothing else. On the hillsides down to the seashore, there is Samba.

In Rio, the Samba schools are the community glue, the net that every musician sooner or later tosses into Brazil’s musical waters and even if they come up empty, just the tossing will have brought them something; some food to feed their inspiration. Yes, it is the only empty that can satiate you. The only full you never tire of consuming.

One night in a Rio street I met Isabel -  Martinho’s city of sweet sounds. It was not until then that I knew I had a middle name. Even for a foreigner, Samba was something familiar.

Ana Costa is one of the newer voices carrying Samba forward. She is a child of Samba and a mother of Samba.

Samba gave birth to her; she studied with the avatar of contemporary Samba, Martinho da Vila. Working in O Roda, an all female Samba group.

She gives birth to Samba; her two solo albums have given voice, given corpus to a new generation of Sambaistas.

Me, I am simply in love with Ana’s voice. She reminds me I am alive. I find waking to face another day easier if she has sung me to sleep. Listen to the many ways she mixes her lullabies.

Her songs are aural nourishment. The basic ingredients are beans, rice, fruit, some vegetables, fish and a little meat. But what banquets she prepares. Each day different yet the components are the same week after week. Each of her Sambas is distinctive but each Samba is still Samba.

Ana Costa is not just another pretty voice. There is a sagacious sensibility that shapes her Samba. Ana’s heart knows this music is more than mere beating.

There is optimism in her sunny Samba sound. Smiles. The upturn of Ana’s smiling lips as she sings is a cup that catches the tears of tough times and makes of that bitter brew a nourishing elixir. Take one drink and you will feel better. Knock back a long draft and you’ll be ready to face whatever. Let it rain, she has the sun on her tongue.

And she not just sings, she also composes. Ana is a musician accompanying herself with the chords of her guitar, plus she arranges the notes and the voices. She’s the future with the sun shinning on the right side of her shoulder. Watch her rise.

By the way, of all the songs no sound is more beautiful to me than the enchantment of “Novos Alvos” (which she co-wrote with Martinho’s daughter Mart’nália, and with Zélia Duncan). Ana Costa brings happiness in my ears.


Kalamu ya Salaam is a New Orleans writer and filmmaker. He is also the founder of Nommo Literary Society - a Black writers workshop. 


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