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Allen Thayer

Allen Thayer is a music journalist, nonprofiteer, and father of two who lives in Portland, OR. He was born there too, but then he moved away - East, at first, for an expensive degree or two, eventually working in Fair Trade, while writing about Brazilian Soul music by night. Allen is a senior writer and associate editor for Wax Poetics as well as publishing articles in the The Fader and The Utne Reader. He writes liner-notes for releases on Light In the Attic, BBE, and Luaka Bop and has a book coming out Fall 2018 as part of the 33 ⅓ Global Series about Tim Maia’s legendary cult records, “Tim Maia Racional, Vols. 1 & 2.”

"Black Power and Masculinity in Brazilian Funk & Soul Music"
Iconic images, classic Blaxploitation films, and unforgettable soundbites from famous Black (North) Americans, such as James Brown, Muhammad Ali, and Isaac Hayes introduced young, Afro-Brazilians to a different way of being Black and famous, new modes of expression, previously unimaginable in Brazil where Afro-Brazilian athletes didn’t talk about race and musicians were slotted towards Samba.
Almost singlehandedly, Tim Maia introduced soul music to Brazil, paving the way for the movement that came to be known as “Black Rio” with his unapologetic appropriation and evangelism of North American Soul and Funk, but more than that, his public persona and image was pulled straight from the playbook of James Brown and Muhammad Ali, incendiary, hilarious, and Black AF. Maia and his deep bench of musical friends not only translated the sounds of Black America (U.S.) to Brazil in the early seventies, they presented a new way of being Black in Brazil with their Afro hair styles and unapologetic musical styles that fused American Soul and Funk with Brazilian rhythms: Samba, Baião and Forró.

Tim Maia’s brand of Brazilian Soul inspired countless imitators and his roster of musicians, much like J.B., started dozens of bands after leaving Tim’s band, but in Rio de Janeiro during the mid-seventies the real star of the show was the DJ. By the late seventies, dozens of DJ crews throughout Brazil’s major metropolises with names like Soul Grand Prix, Furacão 2000 and Soul Layzer commanded crowds in the tens of thousands every weekend at suburban dances where the main attraction were local DJs spinning the latest soul and funk records from the U.S. while dancers brought their own Brazilian interpretations to funky line-dances and the fancy footwork stylings of James Brown. Meanwhile, films like “Shaft” and images of Muhammad Ali and James Brown flashed across screens surrounding the dancefloor. Brazilian Funk musicians emulated the jazz-inspired fusions of Earth, Wind & Fire (Banda Black Rio) and The Godfather’s fashion and vocal stylings (Gerson King Combo).

 Meanwhile, female Afro-Brazilian musicians remained mostly confined to traditional “Brazilian” musical styles, like Samba, and their related fashions almost until the 1980s with the emergence of Sandra Sá, Lady Zu and Marcia Maria (the latter of whom is still better known as a Sambista).