By Chesney Hearst, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Pedra do Sal will fill with celebrations of Afro-Brazilian culture this Saturday, April 12th, as the Baile Black Bom (Good Black Party) holds its seventh edition. Taking place every second Saturday of the month, the free event begins at 5PM with DJs and the band Consciência Tranquila (Quiet Conscience) reinterpreting classic funk and soul from the 70s, R&B, and hip-hop until midnight.
“There was a great need to put this kind of event on in the streets,” Alan Camargo, vocalist and organizer for the band Consciência Tranquila (Quiet Conscience), told The Rio Times.
“Besides the event having a different format with various activities, we also have a very high regard for Brazilian African culture and black music. This respect for music is strengthened by being held in the historical and culturally rich site of Pedra do Sal.”
The Pedra do Sal (Rock of Salt) is an area of huge, smooth rock that slopes down to the Largo João da Baiana in the neighborhood of Centro. Once known as “Little Africa”, the area surrounding Pedra do Sal, near Praça Mauá and the Port Zone of the city, was home to the first African immigrants to settle in Rio after moving to the city from Bahia in the early 17th century.
In the years that followed their arrival and as the community grew, Bahian traditions were introduced and eventually the Carioca samba began to develop. Currently, free weekly rodas de samba (live samba performances) take place on Mondays, commemorating the area’s origins and providing what many call the most authentic samba experience in Rio.
The Baile Black Bom events now hope to also shine a broader and more encompassing light on Afro-Brazilian culture. “I believe that black music in Brazil covers a much larger number of musical genres,” Camargo explained.
“Besides R&B, Soul, Blues, Jazz, Gospel and Rap in our country, black music also covers all the rhythms that use percussion instruments such as Samba, Maracatu and other rhythms that originated in Africa. Therefore we believe that black music has the power to unite the parts of society that identify with at least some of these genres.”
During Balie Black Bom, Camargo and his band, Consciência Tranquila, manage to blend those genres creating a unique sound. Together for twelve years Consciência Tranquila have toured Brazil and abroad. Founded by producers and rappers Antonio Consciencia and Sami Brasil, the band also consist of Camargo, lead vocalist and arranger; record producer and guitarist, Igor Swed; and Carrão Speed on beatbox vocals.
DJ Leandro Marcelino Flash will also bring the best of 70s funk, R&B and Charm to Baile Black Bom. “[During the previous editions] there has always been a very large audience with both young people and older people,” said Camargo. “They are curious about Afro-Brazilian culture and are followers of ‘baile charme.'”
“The event on the 12th will be the seventh edition and will have the biggest audience to-date,” Camargo predicted, adding, “Our main goal is to bring cultural entertainment consisting of music, entrepreneurship and information, free of charge to the center of Rio de Janeiro.”
What: Baile Black Bom
When: Every second Saturday of the month from 5PM until midnight. Next event is on April 12th.
Where: Rua Argemiro Bulcão 38, Gamboa, Centro