Welcome to scintillating Brazil (where since the days of slavery music has functioned like an oyster's pearl). And welcome to a music & arts discovery engine based in Salvador and built not on artificial intelligence, assigned curators and share prices, but on REAL intelligence, OPEN curation and an African-American legacy.
My name's Randy Roberts (here in Brazil they call me "Pardal", that's "Sparrow" in English) and I love the highly misunderstood musical form samba (at its beginning, samba was in Brazil as the delta blues were in the United States...the soulful source of huge music that would come after). A couple of decades ago I "rescued" unpaid royalties for people including Mongo Santamaria, Aretha Franklin, Barbra Streisand, Led Zeppelin, Jim Hall, Phillip Glass and others. Then I came in search of samba's Holy Grail, something that could not be found on the shelves of Manhattan record shops alongside the recordings of Brazilian millionaires like Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil...
Why should ANYBODY not like me, not enchanted by a primordial form of African music in backlands Brazil, care if a grapevine rises from the pounded earth that João do Boi (to my left above) dances upon in his village in Bahia (per the youtube clip filmed at ground zero)?
Because that grapevine runs up through New York City, over to Co. Clare, Ireland, to Edinburgh, Paris, Berlin, Niger, Uganda, Pakistan, Australia and lots of other places.
Meaning that people scattered across the globe, who've never heard of João, can nevertheless be led along the grapevine recommendation-by-recommendation, arriving wide-eyed in João's village of São Braz. And João's music, rarely heard beyond the village borders before this blithe empowerment, can now be heard even from earth orbit.
What's true for João is true for EVERYBODY on the grapevine. YOU can sign up and recommend João by clicking on his page. Then people who know you, or find you, can go directly to him. Or maybe João's not your style. You recommend a guitar shredder in Boston. Who recommends (among others) a bass genius in Copenhagen. Who recommends (among others) a drummer in Ivory Coast. Who recommends (among others) a singer in Rio de Janeiro. Who recommends (among others)...João do Boi. As per the Kevin Bacon game / six degrees of separation phenomenon, there's almost always a way.
SO WHAT'S IN IT FOR YOU, MY FRIEND? If you're a musician (it's not necessary to be a musician to participate) and people by their own criteria feel that you are worth their recommending, they can likewise click on YOUR page and YOU will appear in their GRAPEVINE FORWARD >> tab (they will appear on your << GRAPEVINE BACKWARD tab). You will be part of a complicated system of trails carrying people to other people. Your village borders will disappear over the horizon.
I Heard It Through the Grapevine was inspired by pre-Civil War African Americans' "grapevine network" (origin of the expression "I heard it through the grapevine"), a poor peoples' way of working together to spread the word. It's part of www.salvadorcentral.com and is run from a specialty record shop in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil (our outsider's inside guide to Salvador is here!) We are proud to have received a visit from David Dye of World Café a couple of years ago (our interview and the show we produced were broadcast on NPR). Writer/NPR producer Michelle Mercer's been in. As has been music writer James Gavin. And documentary filmmaker Simon Brook. And David Byrne. And Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. And lots of others including scores of the greatest musicians you've never, ever heard of. But now can : )
Assigned curators can be knowledgeble and enthusiastic but they can't know everything. Within these pages parallel universes are bridged and connections (some highly unlikely) forged. This is OPEN music curation, discovery by the most powerful, far-reaching and subtle software ever written: the collective human mind. If you care, be a part of it.
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