Nova Scotia

Samba Nova celebrates 30 years of Brazilian percussion in Halifax

One of Halifax’s oldest, largest and probably loudest bands is celebrating 30 years of Brazilian percussion and community on Saturday.

Samba Nova is a Brazilian-style batucada band that explores percussion and rhythm, mirroring jazz and blues of the United States with a mix of African and European musical traditions.

Ian Taylor, one of the group’s musical directors, said the music has grown from poorer areas of Brazil where it’s considered an “expression of joy and defiance of the hardship.”

“It’s really kind of pushing against political or economic things that may be trying to bring people down,” Taylor told CBC Radio’s Information Morning Halifax on Friday.

“And this is a way of bringing people together to express that joy and really bring the happiness out, despite anything that might be going on.”

Samba Nova performs at events around Halifax, including the Halifax Pride parade in July 2014. (Samba Nova/Facebook)

The band was founded by the late Matthieu Keijser, a classically trained musician who worked for Halifax Dance.

Wilma Needham had met Keijser around the time of the group’s inception, and became involved before it even had a name.

“It just hooked me right away. And I just kept going — paid babysitters, paid parking, paid everything — so I could get there … now it’s just a regular part of my life,” Needham told Information Morning.

Three people hold drums pose for a silly photo together.
Members of the Samba Nova band practice on Tuesdays. (Wilma Needham)

She said she and the other players call their weekly sessions “Therapy Tuesday.”

“You just don’t think about anything else … it is a joyous, upbeat, lively, danceable event, even in practice when you’re doing it over and over again,” she said.

Taylor said the band is open to everyone, no matter their skill level or age. 

“It’s all about bringing people together and despite anything negative that might be going on, we are going to have the most fun we can have, with the biggest party we can throw,” he said.

Information Morning – NS6:33Samba Nova celebrates 30 years of music this weekend

Halifax’s Brazilian-style samba batucada band Samba Nova is celebrating three decades of music. Ian Taylor and Wilma Needham, two members of Samba Nova, talk about the band’s unlikely history and how samba fits into today’s Maritime culture.

Taylor said Saturday’s event will be just that. 

It will feature a salsa band, traditional Brazilian food, and capoeira, an Afro-Brazilian martial art and game that mixes dance, acrobatics and music.

The celebration is being held at the Mic Mac Amateur Aquatic Club in Dartmouth on Saturday from 7 p.m. to midnight. Doors open at 6 p.m. and tickets cost $15 at the door. All are welcome.

A pile of small, colourful drums sit on a sidewalk.
The band explores percussion and rhythm, using various instruments, mirroring jazz and blues of the United States with a mix of African and European musical traditions. (Samba Nova/Facebook)
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