Music from Maranhão

The state of Maranhão is not only Brazil's "reggae central," but also home to some of the most beautiful musical traditions in the country. By the way, reggae over there is sort of like a slow dance version of forró's a couples' dance...Don't forget to read about the centuries-old bumba-boi dramatic dance! It's wonderful to see these old traditions still alive, always evolving. More will be added to this page eventually.

The most famous artists from Maranhão are singers Alcione and Rita Ribeiro, percussionist Papete, singer Ceumar, and singer/songwriter Zeca Baleiro.

All CDs donated to our site automatically become part of the Sheila Thomson Collection of Brazilian Culture at Florida International University in Miami.


Bumba Meu Boi de Axixá ATR 21019. My favorite bumba-boi "sotaque" or style, so far...The orchestra sounds like it could be playing a frevo, but it isn't...Same loud, brassy sound...but the rhythm isn't as frenetic.

Bumba Meu Boi de Iguaíba  Independent production. This is one of the most famous of the "sotaque de matraca" bumba-bois. A matraca is a percussion instrument made of two pieces of wood that you carry in your hands and hit against each other. Some matracas are very large and are carried around the neck. With these, hundreds, sometimes thousands of people, create a clacking, frenetic rhythmic beat that's extremely contagious and vibrant.
Bumba-Boi Unidos Venceremos Independent production. "Sotaque de zabumba" utilizes very large drums and pandeiros.
Brilho da Sociedade, Costa de mão de Cururupu. Independent production. The innovative bumba-boi from Cururupu uses only pandeiros and maracás as instruments. On this recording, they added cavaquinho and 6- and 7-string guitars.


Cacuriá de Dona Teté Independent production. The cacuriá is an absolutely joyful circle dance performed outdoors in the streets and squares of São Luis. A good place to catch is the downtown area of Praia Grande. Dona Teté is a famous percussionist, a "caixa" (a type of drum) player. The dance had its origins in the informal dances performed by the women who play "caixa" during the Holy Ghost festivities. The rhythm is extremely contagious and the moves are...well, a bit sexy! 


Babaçueira Independent production. The coco is all over Northeastern Brazil and in Maranhão, home of the largest babassu palm plantations, it's called Coco Babaçu, of course!

Brazilian CDs