A Tale of Two Nations


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MARACATU NAÇÃO or MARACATU DE BAQUE VIRADO  is a dynamic rhythm from the northeast of Brazil, propulsive and dramatic, steeped in African and Indigenous traditions with heavy religious overtones. This cultural performance derives from a ritual of the African slaves in Recife (capital city of Pernambuco) approximately 400 years ago when they crowned their own king inspired by the Portuguese colonizers. Its massive percussion groups and dancers lead the way for the king, queen, princess, and crowds of revelers who follow the rhythm of the music and the movement of the court.

Founded in 1906,  Estrela Brilhante  (‘Bright Star’)  has become one of the most renowned and respected traditional maracatu groups in the world. Their music and performance reflect not only more than a century of history, but the entire history of the Afro-Brazilian people of northeastern Brazil.  It is a history condensed into a colorful and vibrant ritual, an ancient Carnival art filled with pulsating rhythms, call and response songs and infectious dance.

Led by the legendary Mestre Walter and Queen and President Dona Marivalda, Estrela Brilhante has accomplished several remarkable achievements including releasing the first maracatu recording,  Amazônica (Sony Music), in 1996 and contributed a track to the live CD Pernambuco em Concerto (África Produções) in 1998.  They have performed throughout Brazil and hold numerous Carnival competition championship titles in Recife.  Over the last decade they have performed throughout Europe including EXPO 2000 in Hanover, Germany and other prestigious festivals.

On this tour Estrela Brilhante will be joined by members of Nation Beat.   In 2005, Scott Kettner successfully brought together Estrela Brilhante and New York City-based American-Brazilian collective Nation Beat for a historical collaboration. Recorded in Recife, Brazil, the resulting Nation Beat debut CD, Maracatuniversal – the first such collaboration between  a traditional maracatu “nation” and a contemporary  band – earned rave reviews from the Brazilian and American press including a feature in  Rolling Stone.  This project will reunite Estrela Brilhante and Nation Beat in concert as they celebrate bringing the roots of traditional maracatu together with its contemporary manifestations.