While despairing Brazilian soccer fans in Rome were offered mercy by Pope Francis in the aftermath of their team’s 2-1 loss to Belgium in the World Cup quarter finals, the truth is the light and soul of Brazilian football can never be extinguished.
Football fever, shared by the Argentinian Pontiff, is not a condition that rears its head every four years. It lives on the beaches of Rio, in the streets of Sao Paulo and deep in the drums of the one thing that tells you everything you ever needed to know about Brazil — Samba.
More than just a dance, Samba is the sound of a nation.
As the Selecao tried in vain to win a sixth World Cup, we met up with T.Dot Batu, Toronto’s premiere Samba Reggae band, to hear about the history of the music, its connection with soccer, and the essential role it plays in supporting the Brazilian national team.
“Soccer and music goes hand-in-hand,” said French-native Chris Branco.
T.Dot Batu play a unique blend of Afro-Brazilian percussion, which hails from the north of the country.
“When the slaves went to Brazil, they brought all this from Africa,” explains director Pato Irie. “Over there we just did a little switch and put some Brazilian flavour on it.
“We call it Samba Reggae.”
You certainly don’t need to be Brazilian to play a drum. TDot Batu have members from all corners of the world, and Irie is the only Brazilian in the band. Branco says the group’s makeup means they can automatically relate to all types of soccer fans during the World Cup.
Samba bands are a common fixture at domestic and international games, a roving soundtrack to Brazilian life and culture.
“People can dance to it, people can play soccer to it,” says Iranian band member Moji.
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