"Besides the general forms of samba, baiao/forró is the most important pop music form of expression in Brazil.”—Gilberto Gil
Though less well known outside the Brazil than samba, forró, the infectious dance music originally from Northeastern region of the country, continues to be one of the most popular musical styles in Brazil today. With its distinctive instrumentation of accordion, bass drum, and triangle, the earthy sounds of forró is reminiscent of a hyperactive zydeco music, while the song lyrics give voice to the hardscrabble existence of people from the Northeast.
The story of forró begins with Luiz Gonzaga (1912–1989). Born in the sertão ("desert backlands") in the northeastern state of Pernambuco, Gonzaga drew on the rich folk traditions around him to create a new type of music that came to known as forró. A larger-than-life character with an ebullient personality, a gift for showmanship as well as a resonant baritone voice and virtuosic accordion playing, Gonzaga burst onto the scene in the late 1940s with a string of hits that made forró a national craze. Following generations of musicians—most notably Gilberto Gil—have built on Gonzaga's legacy and reinterpreted forró for a contemporary audience.
Here videos, playlists, and a radio program provide an introduction to forró and Luiz Gonzaga as well as Gilberto Gil's forró recordings.
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This excerpt from the BBC 4 series Brasil, Brasil leads with a focus on the development of forró and the central role played by Luiz Gonzaga.
Luiz Gonzaga singing "Olha a Pisada" from the 1958 film Hoje o Galo Sou Eu (Today I Am The Rooster).
Luiz Gonzaga and Carmélia Alves—considered the king and queen of the ballad—performing together at Rio de Janeiro's Teatro João Caetano in 1977.
From his 2010 DVD Fé na Festa, Gilberto Gil pays tribute to one of the founders of forró and major influence Luiz Gonzaga with his song, "Aprendi com o Rei" ("I Learned from the King").
Gilberto Gil hearkens back to his roots in forró. Browse an extensive list of additional suggested listening here.
In a video produced to accompany the recent release of his album, the audience is introduced to violinist Nicolas Krassik by a host of stars of Brazilian music, including Gilberto Gil.
Enjoy the music of the man who founded forró. Browse an extensive list of additional suggested listening here.
Carlos Malta and Pife Muderno—who join Nicolas Krassik and Cordestinos on November 19—perform "Mulher Rendeira" from O Cangaceiro.
Forró expert Megwen Lawless joins Georges Collinet for Public Radio International Afropop Worldwide's "Luiz Gonzaga: The King of Baiao."