On Brazil’s Axé Music

Following up on yesterday’s post on Brazilian hip-hop, here’s another article on another musical format popular in Brazil: Axé music. In a perfectly Brazilian fashion, Axé (pronounced “Ah-SHAY”) blends together a variety of musical formats, including calypso, reggae, and other outside musical styles, with Afro-Brazilian rhythms and styles; in this regard, it’s not so different from Bossa Nova, Tropicália, or Brazilian hip-hop. However, if you hear Axé, it is clearly something quite different from those other genres, and today is mostly associated with party music and with having a good time. While the music has its roots in the 1950s, it really came into its own as a uniquely Brazilian musical style in the last thirty years. Now, its popularity in the country is almost unrivalled. When I was there in 2006-2008, it was almost impossible to escape Axé (it was especially difficult to hide from the ever-present Ivete Sangalo, currently one of Axé’s biggest stars). I’m not the biggest fan of Axé myself, but it is an important part of the cultural fabric of Brazil today, and the article does a nice job providing a concise history of Axé.

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About Colin M. Snider

I have a Ph.D. in history, specializing in Latin American History and Comparative Indigenous History. My dissertation focused on Brazil. Beyond Latin America generally, I'm particularly interested in class identities, military politics, human rights, labor, education, music, and nation. I can be found on Twitter at @ColinMSnider.
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