Philadelphia Batala spreads the art of Afro-Brazilian Drumming

ByNiki Hawkins WPVI logo
Thursday, March 12, 2020
Philadelphia Batala is teaching Afro-Brazilian Drumming across the city
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Batala Philadelphia is a drumming ensemble and part of a worldwide initiative that unites people through music.

Music is a great way to connect people from different cultures.

Here in Philadelphia, a group gathers people who share the same passion: playing Afro-Brazilian music.

Batala Philadelphia is a drumming ensemble and part of a worldwide initiative.

Its goal is to inspire communities through music and cultural exchanges.

"Batala Mundo is a global arts project. It started in 1997, in Paris, by Giba Goncalves. He came up from Salvador and started studying music in Paris," says Cindy Penn, Executive Director.

This musical project spread to other countries. In 2017, Cindy Penn founded Batala Philadelphia.

"Two years later and we feel very rooted here in the community now," says Penn

Batala plays samba-reggae music, an Afro-Brazilian fusion.

"Samba-reggae is a music from the Northeast of Brazil, Bahia," says Xande Cruz, Technical Advisor. "It's a variation of samba."

"It's a mix between reggae, merengue beats," adds Penn.

This genre was created in the 1960's. Most of the Brazilian population is of African-descent, but they were not allowed to take part in the country's biggest music festival carnival. So, Afro-Brazilians created their own parade.

"Afro-blocos started marching together representing black people, black traditions, black culture," Penn said.

Batala Philadelphia attracts people from different ages and backgrounds.

"We have representation from Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Paris," says Penn.

Everyone is welcome and invited to learn. They also travel to different countries to play together.

"There are 46 bands across the globe and there's over 1,600 drummers in this movement," says Penn.

Batala Philadelphia/