The impact of Afro-Brazilian culture, both inside of Brazil and abroad, has been immense, particularly in the area of popular culture. Audiences around the world are familiar with it through the work of popularizers such as Carmen Miranda or films such as the 1959 classic Black Orpheus. However a much richer and more complex story lies behind these popular images, one that spans from the long slave trade that flourished in Brazil between 1538 and the 1850s to the more recent rise of urban black and cultural nationalist movements of the 1970s and beyond.
This less well-known history is the subject of John Gray's latest bibliography. While primarily about music the literature it documents reflects on all aspects of black life and culture in Brazil from language and religion to gender relations and race.
Its central focus is on four distinct but intertwined categories of black vernacular culture—secular and Afro-Catholic festivals such as Carnival, bumba-meu-boi, and Folia de Reis, each of which has music and dance as a central component; the music, dances and ensembles associated with them, e.g. the afoxés and blocos afro of Bahian Carnival; folk and popular music idioms ranging from jongo and capoeira to samba, rap and funk; and the liturgical musics of Afro-Brazilian religions, e.g. Candomblé, Umbanda, Xango.
Of particular note are Afro-Brazilian Music' s extensive Regional Studies section which covers developments in 21 of the country's 26 states and a long chapter on Biographical and Critical Studies which documents the careers of more than 500 individual artists and ensembles. Portuguese-language sources are covered comprehensively, in particular a flood of recent electronic theses and scholarly articles from Brazil, along with a sizable cross-section of the literature in English, French, and German.
Citations span from 1833 to 2012, with the bulk having been published between the 1930s and 2012. They encompass folklore studies, ethnographies, oral histories, popular histories and reportage along with a wealth of academic material from Brazil, North America and Europe.
The work concludes with an extensive reference section offering lists of Sources Consulted, a guide to relevant Libraries and Archives, an Appendix listing artists and individuals by idiom/occupation, and separate Author and Subject Indexes.