Thursday, November 12, 2009

Antonio Luis Alves de Souza, Olodum Founder, RIP

Author: Mery Galanternick
This article appeared in the NY Times, and is used without permission, in loving respect to the subject.

RIO DE JANEIRO — Antonio Luis Alves de Souza, who led Olodum, a Brazilian percussion band notable for its social work as well as its music, and who lent his distinctive rhythms to a Paul Simon album and a Michael Jackson video, died on Oct. 31 at his home in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil. He was 54.

The cause was a heart attack, Olodum reported on its Web site.

Mr. de Souza, nicknamed Neguinho do Samba (Little Black Samba Master), was also known for creating the samba reggae, a rhythm that blended the Olodum percussion with Jamaican reggae.

According to Débora de Souza, one of his daughters, when Mr. Simon first heard the new style, he hired the band to play with him on the album “Rhythm of the Saints” in 1990 and Mr. de Souza to perform with him in Central Park the next year. Delighted with the result, Mr. Simon offered to give Mr. Souza an expensive car. But Mr. de Souza asked Mr. Simon instead to give him the money to buy an old building where he wanted to install his new band, Didá, and develop an educational program for children and women.

Mr. Simon agreed. Mr. de Souza had lived since 1993 in that building, where he took poor children and women from the streets and gave them classes in singing, dancing and theater.

Mr. de Souza also participated in the video for Mr. Jackson’s song “They Don’t Care About Us,” directed by Spike Lee, in 1996.

He is survived by seven children and six grandchildren.

Mr. Souza’s funeral procession, on Nov. 3, was followed by 4,000 people dancing and singing his songs.

Olodum's website can be found here.

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