Na Casa Com Baba Jan

Martial Arts:  Capoeira Angola


By Njoli Brown *Entrevista em Português

Conheço o Mestre Mestre Baba há muitos anos e fiquei honrado pela disposição de me dar essa entrevista e de compartilhar um pouco de sua jornada na capoeira, nas artes culturais e na vida, juntamente com algumas das idéias ele ganhava. Agradeço a todos por abordar este primeiro dos meus artigos em português e estou ansioso por mais oportunidades para apresentar trabalhos multilíngues.

 

Njoli: Você pode falar um pouco sobre a primeira vez que você foi exposto à capoeira?

Baba Jan:  Primeira vez quando conhecia a capoeira, na realidade ja existia varias capoeiristas na rua no bairro de Massaranduba que eu cresci. Então minha Mae e meu pai conhecia a coordenadora Ana Rosa responsável pelo Grupo de União e Consciência Negra – nesse grupo tinha varias tipo de atividades que envolvia manifestações de matriz africana. Era teatro, capoeira, samba, maculelê, poesia, musica e mas. Eu entrei a participar e tomar aula com esse grupo com 8 a 10 anos de idades, e eu ia juntos com 2 irmão meu. Ai eu comecei a capoeira com Grupo de Capoeira Angola Pelourinho, núcleo Mangueira projeto Ginga Moleque com Mestre Moraes. Depois Mestre Moraes manda Mestre Valmir, Mestre Poloca e Mestra Paulinha para dar aulas no projeto. 27066904_953079004849403_1343316284227275005_n

Njoli:  Como a capoeira e a cultura “negra” foram vistas e recebidas em sua família e comunidade?

Baba Jan:  A capoeira sempre existia a perseguição e descriminação. Muitos pais não queria seus filhos dentro da capoeira que pensava que capoeira era coisa de marginal ou vandalos. Mas eu começo capoeira e muitos amigos também começava que nosso pais sabia que nos estavam nas boas Maos dentro do Grupo de União e Consciência Negra e de mestres que queria ver nosso bem da parte do GCAP.

Njoli:  Você pode falar um pouco sobre suas primeiras experiências de treinamento? Quem foram alguns de seus colegas? Quais foram as coisas que você achou desafiadoras? Quais foram as coisas que te inspiraram a continuar?12963883_599312533559387_1173904661260471141_n

Baba Jan:  Meus amigos de capoeira que sempre andava juntos da escola, no bairro e na capoeira pra treinar, tocar berimbau e tudo. Ricardinho, Moises, Lourival, Virgilio, Marquinho, Ricardo, Jeane, George, Iverson, Marcelo, e mas. Hoje em dia a única que continuou na capoeira sou eu. Quando comecei no treinamento começou quando mestre falava ‘Ginga’ e ninguém sabia oque era. Nos tinha visto mas capoeira regional na rua então começava tentar movimentar nosso corpo assim. Desafiadora era tentar entrar na roda de capoeira. Nossos pais levava pra roda de GCAP no dia de domingo no Forte do Santo Antonio. Na roda la tinha muitos referencias para nos criança de querer ser que nem Mestre Moraes, ou Valmir, Poloca, Cobra Mansa, Paulinha, Cizinho, Pepeu e dai quando a roda começa tinha que estar pronto no uniforme, no horário certo, e quando tinha momento de entrar na roda com adulto, e vc criança, pequena. Ai era o desafio de jogar com adulto, entra na vida de capoeira, tomar rasteira de qualquer jeito. A inspiração de continuar era e ainda ate hoje são as referencias de pessoas boa, dos mestres levando a tradição da capoeira a seria.

Njoli:  Como sua experiência com a capoeira tem dado conta de sua perspectiva social e política?

Baba Jan:  Capoeira me ajudou na perspectiva social de viver no meio da sociedade misturar com varias tipos de pessoa, de saber entrar e sair em qualquer lugar, fazer trabalho com crianças, incentivar a fazer capoeira e atividades pra tirar da rua e mal caminho.

Njoli:  De que maneira você fez a capoeira por conta própria? Quer dizer, como você inclui sua identidade pessoal na arte?

Baba Jan:  Ninguém começa capoeira por conta própria, eu penso que sempre tem o incentivo de alguém. O aprendizado da vida ajuda a pessoa pega coragem pra se expressar com povo, os alunos, em dia dia pra saber oque falar e como orientar os alunos do jeito que eu aprendi com os mestres.

Njoli:  Qual o papel da sua família no seu desenvolvimento como capoeirista e como artista?

Baba Jan:  A minha familia que me botou na capoeira e ate hoje me apoia.

Njoli:  Quais são alguns dos benefícios que você vê ao usar as artes afro-brasileiras como uma ferramenta para a construção de comunidades?

10929931_10153821319298902_663864320635008944_nBaba Jan:  O que eu vejo e que as artes afro-brasileiras não existem sem comunidade. E essas comunidades são importante para fortalecer qualquer pessoa, participante nessas artes de ter um apoio de amizade e ate un tipo de familia maior para poder apoiar e depender na vida. Eu penso numa sociedade como aqui nos Estados Unidos, pessoas tem visao muitas individualistas e precisam mas desses tipos de comunidade e apoio na vida de cada um.

Njoli:  Quais são alguns dos desafios que você enfrentou na construção da comunidade?

Baba Jan:  Desafio na construção de uma comunidade e voce começar com um trabalho e aparecer pra compartilhar sua sabedoria, e ninguém aparece o dar valor daquilo que vc sabe nem o tempo que você estar la. De chegar todos os dias no seu espaço e nao tem ninguém pra querer aprender. Ai voce volta pra sua casa triste. Mas ai que precisa a forca de continuidade que aos poucos aparece alunos. Com 20 alunos ou 1 aluno o professor precisa esta presente e resistente pra nao desistir da comunidade.

Njoli:  Quais são algumas das aspirações que você tem para o seu projeto atual?

Baba Jan:  As minhas aspirações e manter o grupo firme e forte, de samba e de capoeira. Tentar conseguir que o povo veja meu objetivo e trabalho, e que as pessoas reconheço o esforço que dou pra estar presente cada dia pra ver os alunos progredir. Quero ver o Espaço Cultural Samba Trovao crescer cada vez mas, com projetos com crianças ate os adultos. Quero também que os meus mestres reconhece o meu trabalho de manter a tradição com dignidade fora do Brazil.

Njoli:  Quais são algumas maneiras pelas quais você chamaria sua comunidade para ajudar e apoiar?

Baba Jan:  E a comunidade sempre comunicando e participando. E eu convidando e sendo presente de sempre abri o espaço pra qualquer um chegar e sentir respeitado.

Adicionando:

 

 

Babajan-da-Cruz-225x300Livaldi “BabaJan” da Cruz was born and raised in Massarunduba, in the Lower City of Salvador, Bahia, Brazil.  He has been training Capoeira Angola for over 30 years and has been a practicing and performing musician for more than 20 years.

 In 2003 Baba was invited to come from Brazil to Washington DC to be the director of a residency program at Kamit Institute for Magnificent Achievers (KIMA) public charter school.  There, using Capoeira and Afro-Brazilian music, he developed a unique program of physical education and music studies for high school and middle school students.  At this time Baba also became one of the teachers at FICA DC and founded the samba reggae group Samba Trovao.  In 2013 Baba started his own chapter of FICA in Maryland.  In 2015 Baba Jan received the title of Contra Mestre in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil at the 20th conference of the International Capoeira Angola Foundation (ICAF or FICA) and soon after began his own project Capoeira Angola No Mato.

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5 Questions: Soul & Music with Kojo Johnson

Kojo X Johnson of Bambu Station& FICA DC talks back to 5 Questions from Njoli Brown at NoPaper

I resist classifying my music. First it’s very hard to nail down. I feel like I’m all over the page sometimes when it comes to my inspirations. I have several approaches to music and I think each of them are a genuine reflection of who I am musically. Being multi-lingual/multi-cultural I tend to code switch a lot….maybe that’s what’s reflected in my music as well. …….
Back to the issue of classification, I think the term soul most fully identifies what I am influenced by and what I strive to give to my music. I am a soul singer, on a roots man trod if that makes sense. I’ve heard my self compared to soul singers like Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, even Smokey Robinson  … A good friend and great singer/songwriter once said I was like Otis Redding (or some other soul singer) in Bob Marley’s band. I think that’s a colorful way to sum up what you’re hearing and when you think about it that’s a huge accolade.

My most natural stylistic instincts come mostly from the soul and gospel music I grew up on. as I’ve matured and expanded as an artist and as a person I’ve incorporated the influence music from other parts of the black diaspora like reggae, samba reggae, bossa nova, and even capoeira music. I feel completely comfortable flowing between what are considered “separate” genres because for me they all are expressions of diasporic soul. There’s a classification for you: diasporic soul. I think that’s the best yet.

kojoI think what reflects me the most in my music now are my lyrics. I spend a lot of effort trying have my lyrics reflect reality, to tell the truth about what I see, no matter how simple or massive. I can admit now that I probably wasted a lot of time struggling with writing because I was trying to sound as profound as possible while simultaneously trying to stay out of the middle of the story. I was trying to splash lyrical color without getting any on myself that would show everyone exactly who’s life, experiences, observations was behind the song. I think my creative honesty is what reflects more of who I am now. Also, I’m more confident of my purpose and my vision these days. I trust one-hundred percent the music coming from inside my head, from those higher regions. I know what it is i’m supposed to be saying musically and what it should sound like.

Many creative people will tell you that that’s where the battle begins, getting the end product to reflect and honor the inspiration for the project. Early on, when I found my medium of expression I was so overwhelmed at the gift and opportunity to be an artist somehow responsible for storytelling about the human condition the possibilities for expression seemed endless and it was hard to know which instinct to obey first. I think my creative processes reflect that I trust my instinct fully now, even when my ability takes a few steps to catch up.

In a vague fashion, I would say that my life’s experiences and personal struggles have really brought me to where I am. First, I think what I’ve learned through doing a lot of youth and community development work in the inner cities and even in the “out there” ( Brasil, the west indies, Cuba, Mexico and Africa, southern and west Africa) communities, the things I’ve seen in my work abroad have really changed me forever and burned certain messages into me that come out in my lyrics…some are reflections of what i saw and experienced directly (eg violence in the streets, police corruption, the floor of a foreign jail cell) some reflect peoples stories that i heard while working in the community as an anthropologist studying violence. as bad as things are, people still live such courageous lives of resistance and resilience.kojo j

Capoeira really inspired me to conquer my fear of public speaking  and singing.  The mestres of FICA (Fundação Internacional de Capoeira Angola) have always encouraged everyone to sing out, you know, put the feeling on the outside to generate and cultivate the axe of the roda.  I come from a family of gifted musicians, producers, and singers. I always wanted to make music like I saw my cousins doing in North and South Carolina (see: Lendon James, “Pappy” Mckoy, Gayle Fairley, Reel Mob Raab, Robert Fairley, Jr and sooo many others i haven’t named here) …music that moved and stirred people,…inspired them. ….. growing up on soul, gospel, country, bossa nova, rock, jazz, funk…. the little known truth is, I tried to run from being an artist at first, partly because of the negative stigma put on the artist around me at the time. as a young brother without much apparent support it just seemed like a hard trod to be a musician but still I knew I wanted to be a part of that divine calling, that elite society.

I’ve read that artists and healers feel the peaks and valleys of life more intensely than the average person… there have been when I’ve gone through so much pain it dragged me down. so far down that the music was the only thing that allowed thing that would carry me back to the heights. It got to the point where I had so much to reason about with people out there music was the only thing that allowed me . eventually, I kind of adopted songwriting and performing as a way to communicate what I was seeing and feeling since it allowed me the freedom and opportunity to reach out to so many people.

 


 

Who is Bambu Station?

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Bambú Station Band | bambustationband.com

Virgin Island roots reggae band Bambú Station was founded in 1996 by the impassioned lead singer Jalani Horton. After years of performing live, Bambú Station established its own recording studio and recorded and released its first album ”Congo Moon” (High Rotation Records, 1999). From the album the popular song “Heathen Fun”, was selected for a two-CD remix compilation entitled “Walking on Pennsylvania Avenue”, a major relief effort for children with AIDS in Washington, D.C. (www.opensource.com).

In 2000, Bambú Station independently released the critically acclaimed single “Amadou Diallo” in memory of the New York slained West African immigrant. The band personally presented the single to Diallo’s parents at the 2001 Anniversary of the March on Washington. In May 2002, Bambú Station reached global acclaim with their invigorating compilation “Bambú Station presents: Various Artists – Talkin’ Roots I” (Mt. Nebo Records). This groundbreaking album immediately charted worldwide, generating international praise from music critics and radio DJs, and was selected as “Compilation of the Year 2002” by Ireggae.com and won several music awards.

With the release of their album “One Day” in 2003, The Beat Magazine, Reggae Reviews, Urban Ambience Journal and countless other reviewer’s dubbed Bambú Station’s “One Day” as one of the most significant albums of the modern reggae scene. By the years end, with all the attention garnered,“One Day” was selected as “Album of the Year” by both the DC Annual Reggae Awards and Creation Steppin’ Radio. Additionally, the D.C. Annual Reggae Awards selected “One Day” as “Song of the Year 2003” and Bambú Station as “Producer of the Year 2003.” Fans, writers and industry experts all continue to praise the album as “classic”, “very powerful”, and “one for the ages.“

Since its first tour in July 2004, Bambú Station’s fan base has exploded beyond measure with every album and tour. Their Talkin’ Roots Tour 2004 was the first ever tour of a group of Virgin Island reggae artists on the U.S. mainland. The band also headlined at the Sierra Nevada World Music Festival, released “Break The Soil,” “Talkin’ Roots II,” “Chant of the Lions I” and toured the U.S. mainland solidifying their soul-stirring brand of music.

Through its Bambú Station Foundation, the band is proactive in efforts to positively impact the lives of families, with a focus on children. In November 2006, the prestigious Strathmore Music Arts Center in Bethesda, MD (www.strathmore.org) selected Bambú Station for its Artist In Residence Program, the first reggae band to be selected.

Bambú Station has since performed throughout South America, Europe, North Africa and the Caribbean and Pacific Islands. In 2012, Bambú Station released “Children of Exodus” and their first music video, “Leaning On Afreeka” in 2013.

In 2011, Bambú Station returned home to the Virgin Islands and opened Griotlife Studio in Rockas City, St. Thomas. Jalani Horton has been producing several projects and artists scheduled for release in 2014 namely, The INNER LIGHT PROJECT featuring Various Artists.

the Bambu Station Co.
P.O. Box 3981, St. Thomas, VI 00803 | 202-321-2263